Review: Between Tiny Cities at The Lion Arts Factory

Review By Lia Cocks I have a soft spot for dance and all its complexities and simplicities. And this performance of Between Tiny Cities was like no other. Staged in the industrial, gritty Lion Arts Factory as a standing room only show, we are ushered into the space and form the edge of hip hop’s traditional 10 metre diameter audience cypher circle. This work, expertly crafted and created by acclaimed hip hop choreographer, Nick Power is a brilliant collaboration between, literally, two cities - Darwin and Phnom Penh. Four years in the making as a cultural exchange between Australia and Cambodia, Between Tiny Cities brings together progressive duo Aaron Lim from Darwin and Erak Mith from Phnom Penh. These two performers, while both very different, are united by the international and common language of hip hop. The lights dim and the insanely incredible soundtrack, composed by Jack Prest begins. The dancers emerge from the shadows of the audience, facing each other, as traditional B Boy battles begin; like animals in the wild staking their claim. We see the animal-like competition begin, as they use their bodies so intrinsically and languidly. Sometimes, the movement is inspired by the soundscape, other times the lighting plays a huge part in the dynamic of the movement. I felt my eyes dart between the two of them - whose side am I on? The moment the lighting shifted to a bright strip between them the energy changed into a cheeky rumble and culminating into a spotlight of them panting and heaving. In silence. Baiting each other. Egging each other on. As the soundtrack starts up again, their relationship has shifted and we see a unison of whole body movement while their feet are planted firmly on the ground. This movement is very different to what we’ve been watching. It is more fluid, lymphatic and aqueous; still interspersed with break dancing but with a more contemporary feel and flow. They turn their attention to the audience and fracture that fourth wall to break into an old fashioned dance off! The following stage of their relationship is tender and supple, with song by Erak leading into a contact duo where their hands/arms are firmly connected. Incredibly beautiful and sublime to watch. Where they began this piece dancing at each other, they are now dancing with each other. A true expression of the meshing of their cultures as brothers. Between Tiny Cities is truly a marvel of sleek, vivid and intense choreography intertwined with the improvisation and urban beats of break dancing to explore the universal story between two performers through dance. Raw, energetic, compulsive, tenacious and dramatic.  Highly recommended.

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All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.

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