Where: Space Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre
When: 10-14 March, see here for show times
How much: $25-49, click here for tickets
Two dance crews face off across a bare stage. Lady Rocks (Paris) and Riddim Nation (Sydney) are preparing for battle. They gently taunt each other, waiting for the other side to give in and start the first round — a game familiar to anyone who has watched or participated in a street dance battle. Once the first performer crosses the threshold onto the dance floor, we are quickly transported along an intense physical journey from confrontation to playfulness to cooperation.
I would describe the Two Crews experience as hip hop meets modern dance. Subverting my expectations, the choreography is backed not by funky beats but by a percussive and largely atonal score by Sydney electronic musician and composer Jack Prest. I also found echoes of modern dance in the way that performers seemed to be deconstructing their art, moving beyond genre or learned steps to reach for pure movement.
All eight performers are extremely skilled. While ‘hip hop’ may be used as an umbrella descriptor, there are actually several different styles of street dance on display, with each dancer given the opportunity to spotlight their speciality. Gabriela Quinsacara of Riddim Nation was a standout with her beautiful solo performance. One of the show’s strengths is the choice to showcase each dancer’s individual style, rather than aiming for tightly coordinated conformity.
I think this show will be of interest to anyone who loves dance, but particularly to those who already have links to the street dance scene and the vocabulary of crews and battles. For those of us who don’t, I’ll note that audience commentary, cheering and applause are welcomed in street dance culture, so don’t be afraid to make noise if you see something you like during the show. This may be the Adelaide Festival, but there’s no need to hold your applause till the end.