Between Tiny Cities at Arts Centre Melbourne

Between Tiny Cities រវាងទីក្រុងតូច, sees one b*boy from Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and another from Darwin, Australia, use the language, style and culture of hip-hop to reveal the dramatically different worlds they come from, carving a journey to uncover the links that unite them, through dance.

Created by renowned Sydney based hip-hop choreographer Nick Power and accompanied by the beats and sound design of Jack Prest. The work is the result of a four-year dance exchange between Darwin’s D*City Rockers and Cambodia’s Tiny Toones youth program. The two crews have travelled, trained, battled and performed together, and Between Tiny Cities រវាងទីក្រុងតូច, is the culmination of that exchange.

James spoke with choreographer Nick Power about the huge project and why he's so excited to bring it to the great stages of the Sydney Opera House and Arts Centre Melbourne. 

Read the full interview below:

Nick Power

Since 2017, Between Tiny Cities has toured throughout Australia, Asia and Europe. How have the different cultures received this work? Have you noticed any differences between the West and the East in their response to the show?

 

We spent a lot of time in Phnom Penh during the development of the work so it was fantastic to take the finished piece back to there and perform it.  The strong connection we had built with the local hip hop community through the Tiny Toones Organisation meant that there was a real lineage and investment in the work by the audience.  Erak Mith (one of the performers) is a teacher and former student at Tiny Toones so it was really beautiful for him to represent this connection. There is also a section where Erak sings in Khmer which, of course, jumped to life in front of a Cambodian audience.  In the west I feel as though people have been really intrigued and interested in this collaboration between Australia and Cambodia. 

 

Over the course of your extensive career, you have aimed to blend your hip hop background with the stories and stylings of various foreign cultures. What elements of Cambodian culture do you hope to convey in this show and how does this blend with the your Western-based experience in hip hop dance?

 

In Erak’s b*boy style there are clear traces of traditional Khmer dance.  The great thing about hip hop is it allows you to express this traditional culture as part of your style.  So there is a clear link to Khmer culture but it is uncovered subtly through the foundation of hip hop. Equally, Aaron Lim - the other performer in the piece - has a strong martial arts background, this echoes through in his style.    

How does it feel to be bringing a dance that was born out of street culture and rebellion to the grandiose stage of the Sydney Opera House? Is this emblematic of how hip hop culture has been accepted by the mainstream audience?

 

I’m really excited about performing the work at the Opera House!  I think the interesting thing about this work is that because of its hip hop roots it can feel equally at home on a main stage of a major performing arts venue or on a basketball court in a remote Indigenous community.  Hip Hop has the cultural capacity and skill level to straddle this kind of diversity and still ring true.

 

At this stage in your career, do you find more personal value in choreographing, performing or both?

 

I’m focused on choreography these days… but I can still get down when the vibe’s right.

A key focus of many of your shows is the expression of different cultures. Why is giving POC performers a platform so central to a lot of your work?

 

My work is an extension of the community and culture I am part of.  Hip Hop has always given voice to people of colour and minority communities, it was born out of this need.   

 

RAPID FIRE QUESTIONS: 

 

Favourite production you have ever seen?

 Rubberband Dance Company in San Fran in 2005.  I can’t remember the name of the production but it opened up a whole new world to me.

You’re getting on a plane tomorrow and you can go anywhere in the world, where do you go?

Rio.

Dream work to create?

The one I’m working on at the moment - “Two Crews”

Plays or musicals?

can’t choose ahhhhh … 

 

A hobby you have beyond the theatre?

Body surfing.

What’s next for you after this show? 

Some time at home with my family … then off on tour again…

Between Tiny Cities opens at the Sydney Opera House on July 5 before moving to Arts Centre Melbourne for its performance on July 10. You can get Sydney tickets here, and Melbourne tickets here.

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