Next marks the continuing development of the 60-member Auckland-based Identity Dance Company (IDCO) in its quest to find a future beyond competitive hip-hop (it's IDCO that gave the world Bradas, the world champion hip-hop dancers taking the world by storm).
Replacing its annual Tempo Dance Festival Out of the Box hip-hop survey show, which last year featured IDCO's dozen professional dancers; Next looks toward possible new directions.
In 70 minutes, we get six longer-form dances by company choreographers set to a musical mosaic which ranges from excerpts of Night of the Living Dead to smooth soul, pop and rap, and remixes of dubstep and glitch hop.
It's pretty much all street dance fusion with requisite inclusions of Old School hip-hop and New School variations, fragments of locking and popping, liquiding and tutting, a touch of funk and boogaloo and very occasional aerials.
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Two polished works are choreographed by Chevrolet Mikaere and Taniora Motutere for groups of nine dancers. Their stirring haka with weaponry Ko Wai Matou ... (which could well become a signature work) opens the show. Their second contribution is the light-hearted boys-hanging-out-playing-video-games romp Who's In Control which gets plenty of laughs.
The standout work is the complexly patterned Puzzled choreographed by Josh Cesan, with atmospheric rumbling sound and often dark lighting and some extended solo breaks where individuals show off virtuoso sequences.
Sixteen or so dancers, dressed in greys and olives and wearing burnt-orange harnesses, flow through a series of regimented formations which imply they are squads or teams drilling and preparing for some future conflict or competition.
Love, Hope, Faith & Loyalty - The 4 chambers of my soul, choreographed by Indigo Sagala, has all 60 dancers on stage. It's a lyrically inspired, commercial dance-influenced work with a video backdrop, inspiring quotations and dancing to the music instead of interacting with it. There's even some perhaps unintentional lip-synching.
There's no doubting the talent and commitment of the company as a whole, however, if larger cast, commercially focused shows are the future, they will need larger stages than Q provides.
What: Tempo Dance Festival, NEXT - Identity Dance Company
Where: Rangatira at Q Theatre
Reviewer: Raewyn Whyte