BETWEEN TINY CITIES was devised and choreographed by Nick Power, a Sydney-based choreographer whose early career was marked with ten years in a remote First Nations community called Lajamanu in NT. There he was mentored by elders of the community about Walpiri culture and here that he realised hip-hop has its own history, rituals and connection to culture , which eventually led to his creation of this production. The show is Power’s response to a four-year dance exchange program between Darwin’s D*City Rockers and Cambodia’s Tiny Toones youth program. There is warmth ,humour and some amazing dancing.
The audience enters and stands behind the clearly delineated circle on the floor that is the performance space. Dancers Aaron Lim and Erak Mith are extraordinary. Dressed in casual t-shirt and leggings with sneakers, they blend contemporary dance , hip hop , Indigenous and traditional Cambodian dance in a thrilling ,compelling mix full of incredible dynamic energy and fluid grace. They watch each other intently the whole time, at times mirroring each other, sometimes melding and becoming a fluid, moving sculpture like a wrestling match. The show begins in slo -mo but soon becomes very energetic and fast paced. At times it is a teasing dialogue ‘anything you can do I can do better ‘, at other times it is a considered discussion reaching towards mutual understanding .
The audience is so close you can see and smell the sweat pouring off them and hear the squeak of their shoes. No wonder they need to pause for a bottle of water! There are slips, slides and slithers and the dizzying power moves – head-spins and windmills of hip hop/break dancing as well as dramatic posing, the graceful ,long stretched arms with special hand movements from Cambodian dance, contrasted with angular spiky arm movements. The high, dangerous kicks and flying leaps of capoeira are also included as is a teasing back and forth segment of shakes and wobbly movements. Mith teases and ‘spooks’ Lim in another fun scene like a mischievous Puck and sings songs in Cambodian as well.
The recorded percussive music/soundscape by Jack Prest was infectious and dynamic. Bosco Shaw’s lighting , which included strobe lighting, was at times glaringly clear, at other times shadowy and mysterious .
This was a fascinating, mesmerising dance dialogue/battle about two cultures colliding.
Running time – roughly 45 minutes no interval
BETWEEN TWO CITIES played the Studio Theatre at the Sydney Opera House between the 5th and the 7th July, 2019.