A dynamic, fast paced performance from the Black Grace UrbanYOUTHMovement, Who Are You? combines high energy dancing with social commentary to produce an enthralling work.
Who Are You? questions what it is to be a young person, exploring the individual’s identity and place within the teenage community. Group work is a constant theme, with dancers pulling away from the large groups into smaller groups, but not managing to escape altogether. The dancers move with abandon, but any freedom seems fleeting as they are pulled back into the crowd.
Punchy and rhythmic, there is a feeling of strength and focus in this production. The choreography is vibrant, fast and exciting to watch. Technically challenging, it gives the young dancers something to attack, which they manage to do admirably.
With chanting, drums and the repeated question of Who… Who… Who are you?, there is strong sense of the beat and a somewhat earthy, tribal feel to the performance. This is emphasised by the good timing of the dancers and this ongoing cadence moves the content along and gives structure and regularity to the work.
The focus is on teenage issues, and moves from friends, the opposite sex and fitting in, to something more sinister. As the show progresses, it examines social issues involving teenagers, quoting recent, shocking news stories of teenage violence and substance abuse in New Zealand. These are portrayed with expression and emotion, contrasting between depicting ‘normal’ teenage life and the cruelty and desperation which can be just underneath the surface.
The disturbing scenes are believable, with the young cast making the images of teens fighting and drinking really hit home. The fight scenes are fluid and well-choreographed with echoes of capoeira. There are contrasts everywhere, especially between the girls’ aggression and femininity.
A drink-driving scene is the peak of the performance, giving a powerful, unsettling vision of a possible consequence. Dark and intense, it gives a strong sense of loss and some lovely, haunting movement. The ending picks up the pieces, returns to the previous rhythm and places the scene into a context which seems all too unaffected by it.
Who Are You? is extremely well-performed by a very talented group of dancers. They give a mature performance, showing discipline and focus while displaying an emotional connection with the content.
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