Arts and Culture

Hip Hop dancers give Manchester a night to remember at the Contact Theatre

Breakdancing show Between Tiny Cities is a breathtaking story of two colliding cultures which unite brotherhood and friendship through the intensity of dance.

The movement duet connects the two dancers who unravel cultures, heritage and explore physical movement through ritual styled moves, displaying cross-cultural collaboration.

Throughout the performance the audience is taken on a journey of rhythm and character development with dancer Erak Mith from Cambodia and Australian Aaron Lim.

The dancers start off on the floor mimicking animal-like movements and gradually make it to the surface level through layers of music, their bodies move with power, narrating the story only with the use of movement and facial expression.

The music is electric and fully intensifies the connection between Erak and Aaron. As the dancers move to the beat they add flavour and humour to the performance, which is choreographed by internationally-renowned Sydney hip-hop dance artist Nick Power and accompanied by beats and sound designer Jack Prest.

Nick said: “Within the choreographed routine, there is freedom; some moves are sheer improvisation that sparks creativity between the dancers.

“Every night I am surprised with the performance. At the heart of the routine comes a connection between the two hip hop cultures.”

Between Tiny Cities has been nominated for Green Room & Australian Dance awards.

The collaboration between Aaron and Erak began four years ago with a dance exchange project between Aaron’s crew D*City Rockers, based in Darwin, and Erak’s Cambodian Tiny Toones dance crew.

Video of Between Tiny Cities dance routine – video credit (SOHOCredit.Prudence.Upton)

Aaron explained: “Breaking and hip hop is a culture that is universal. I saw a lot of similarities in the dances between Tiny Toones and my crew, and that’s how myself and Erak bonded.

“Culturally speaking we are different but hip hop culture brought us together.”

Original Creative Producer Britt Guy took a residency at Tiny Toones which enables and helps children from poorer backgrounds and who don’t have access to education to get the opportunity to dance, do music and learn English.

Erak was a teacher at Tiny Toones, and hip hop has allowed him to be paid for his art, which has then opened up opportunities to travel, making a difference to his life and his family’s life.

He said: “Being part of Between Tiny Cities gives me so much joy. I am now able to show the world what I can do through dance and represent Cambodia’s hip hop culture.”

Britt, who is from Australia and had connections to Darwin, came back and spoke with Nick who had worked a lot with Aaron’s crew.

Nick had worked as a choreographer for youth groups in Darwin before, which was the start of a collaboration with Britt, merging two cultures and two crews together.

The crews hung out for two weeks, jammed, danced, battled and performed at Darwin festival and afterwards went to Cambodia.

“It took a lot of time due to language, culture and geographical barriers.

“We were interested in breaking them down and creating a unique performance rather than just making a show and putting it on, it took time and care to make sure both sides of the coin were represented and that’s what we have done with Cambodia and Australia and created ‘Between Tiny Cities’.”

The first show premiered at Dance Massive in 2017 and in the last five years has travelled the world, touring more than 20 venues in Australia, then through Asia and Europe Malaysia, Hong Kong, Germany, Austria and Holland.

Aaron said: “The show is a special experience for me, it’s not every day I am able to perform, and share my personality and relationship with Erak, where people get to know us as individuals through the power of dancing.

“It’s so fun for people to see that and experience it with us.”

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