Review by Nola Bartolo
Inspired by the legendary block parties of 1970’s New York, acclaimed Sydney-based choreographer Nick Power (Two Crews, Between Tiny Cities) premiered Deejay x Dancer in the Opera House’s Studio last night. Now hold up. I knew I would love this even before I saw it.
This playful, intimate dance work pays tribute to hip hop’s origins in a thrilling call-and-response showdown featuring the world champion turntablist DJ Total Eclipse – renowned in Australia as the touring DJ for hip-hop acts AB Original and Funkoars.
Deejay x Dancer pits the veteran New York DJ against three of Australia’s most respected Breakers:
Anastasios “Taz” Repousi, is a B*boy, dancer, teacher and choreographer from Bankstown, he's a former member of the iconic Justice Crew who won Australia’s Got Talent in 2010 and is currently with Hybrid Formz Crew.
Jackson Garcia, is a B*boy and movement artist who specilises in street styles, competing and performing internationally as a battle-hardened member of crews Skill at Will and Team Cream; and
Demi Sorono, achieving national fame as a crowd favourite on So You Think You Can Dance, and going on to create the acclaimed one woman show Shadow Warrior.
Commissioned by the Sydney Opera House as part of New York Now, Deejay x Dancer is a rousing celebration of the intricate interplay between DJ and Dancer, and how they intuitively react and respond to each other in the heart-racing heat of the moment.
The music was funky, and the dancing was ridiculous. The way that the two were beautifully entwined had the crowd cheering and dancing. How could you not? The Studio was set up with the DJ box and a square shaped dance floor/stage with a single row of chairs surrounding. The rest was standing room only. So, it felt like we were in New York City watching break dancers break and compete! All that was missing was the cardboard! In front of the DJ box there was a large screen so the audience could see DJ Total Eclipse do his thang. The dancers deserve all the accolade you can throw at them and more. The way they moved with DJ Total Eclipse was something else. Yes, it was playful, intense, fun, powerful, beautiful and exciting to watch. Nick Power did a sensational job of paying homage to the origins of hip hop. It is clear that the marriage between music and dance is still going strong.
A highlight for me was when DJ Total Eclipse came out and danced simulating playing the trumpet - oh the saints were marching in I tell ya. He was infectious with his style and smile; we all could feel the love. It was obvious that Hip Hop is built on community. It is of and for the people. So much so that at the end of the performance the dancers welcomed others from the tight community to dance with them. It was a touching moment and continued the communal element and theme of the performance. I only wish I knew who they were. The three dancers were seamless as they worked together, but the heartbeat of the performance was DJ Total Eclipse. There was no weak link here as all held their own strengths. The athleticism - the work involved in the performance is really something else. It’s so good to see this sort of dancing being celebrated and taken to audiences. Just as the composers created music for the opera and the ballet. The Dee Jay is the modern street savvy composer of today. It was such a thrill to experience. Please, please, please if you love music and dancing – this is absolutely for you. I really wish that the DJ could have kicked on and we all could have danced on. As it was, I was dancing in the street, on the ferry all the way home. Don’t miss this limited season – this weekend only must finish August 21st.
Image Credit: Jordan Munns