You Better Run Boy!

Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre, The Edge, Auckland

08/09/2009 - 12/09/2009

Production Details

This work explores the theme of bullying in our schools, streets and beyond. Created under the leadership of Neil Ieremia and Black Grace, this new dance work is set to be fast, fierce and funny and will make you want to laugh at a bully, hug a bully and bully a bully!

Performing at the Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre, THE EDGE®, 8 – 12 September. For booking information and show times phone (09) 357 3355, visit or

During June and July Black Grace auditioned over 100 young people aged 16 – 21 from all over Auckland. After an intense weekend of callbacks, only 16 made it. Since then, rehearsals have been almost every evening including the weekends.

In UYM’s 10-year history, this year’s project has seen the largest intake of Pacific Island and Māori participants. With 7 men and 9 women from Papakura to Long Bay, this group is a real mixed bag with lots of stories to tell – here are just a few …

Wiremu Mehana (16) is from Papakura High School. Wiremu and two of his school mates Joseph Matthews and Huiarangi Honara make the 50 minute train ride into Auckland City for each rehearsal, and home again. Wiremu dreams of becoming a Formula 1 driver.

Thomas Fonua (17). From Onehunga High School Thomas juggles school, rugby, and ballet lessons and says he gets a lot of flack for his dancing – but what’s new!

Brittany Le Sueur (17) is in her final year at Long Bay College. Brittany has come to UYM to get a taste of what it is like working professionally. "It’s a place where we can come and be who ever we want to be – go crazy!"

Joash Tuugamusu (21) is a student at the Pacific Institute of Performing Arts and has aspirations to work with Black Grace. "It’s an excellent opportunity to learn, improve and mature – a good all over experience so far. I’m living my dream!"  

8 – 12 September 2009
The Herald, THE EDGE
(09) 357 3355    





Wiremu Mehana .
Thomas Fonua
Brittany Le Sueur
Joash Tuugamusu

Artistic Director /Choreographer /Sound Design:  Neil Ieremia
Artistic Associate:  Wendy Wallace
Lighting Design:  Nik Janiurek
Costume Design:  Estelle Macdonald

Engaging, entertaining and potentially transformative

Review by Celine Sumic 09th Sep 2009

Driven by the exuberant rhythm of its collective body, Black Grace and Urban YOUTH Movement 2009 delivers You Better Run Boy – an eloquent work about peace, pies and accountability.

The historical propensity of the human habit to bully is explored in this work as tensional gatherings, confrontations and dissolves are played out in rapid re-framings of critical (mass) groupings and factional divisions. 

Constructed from three cycles of an extended choreographic sequence presented and re-presented in a film-like rewind and replay structure, Neil Ieremia’s stage presents a screen-play of real time anima and animus as dancers emulate the (animal) acoustics and attributes of cows, apes, birds and sheep in a reflected menagerie of the shadow side of human nature.

As pods of dancers amalgamate and dissolve, trios and quartets alternate with the company divided in thirds or split in half, at times according to gendered difference.  Pathway and collective line are also developed to convey the intersection of social structure with evocations of nature.

Ieremia’s use of form is complemented and developed within a layered movement vocabulary drawing on an energetic intersection of hip hop, haka, sasa, shake, break, kick, stomp, tap, ballet, contemporary, and possibly a glimpse of lady marmalade.

Echoing Gathering Clouds, You Better Run Boy emulates the elements in its critique of the human psyche.  Moving in collective chameleonic form, dancers variously reference the rigidity of rock, the receptive texture of earth, the fluid nature of the river and the immaterial vapour of cloud. 

Men and women are largely differentiated by their movement vocabularies within this work with the concluding section bringing a brief role reversal of the genders.  In this way Ieremia shifts the audience’s attention, making us laugh but also consider at the same time: what if I took on the other’s way of being /or seeing, and wore my skin his /her way? 

Blending specific reference with ambient affect, sound is used to great effect in this work.  Acoustic breaks and sonic dissolves further contribute to the filmic sense of the choreographic structure, with a strong use of body percussion complemented by a recorded score and live vocal sound from the dancers, employed variously in abstract, spoken and choral form.  A sprinkling of bells throughout the work (cow bells, school bells, church bells) act as effective signposts to the changing scenes of the work, contributing definition to its syncopated weave of movement. 

The tensional nature of power dynamics is successfully sustained throughout this work via the choral contrast of harmonic song and ugly taunt.  A poignant and melancholic a-cappella version of Talking Heads Psycho Killer underlines the central question, as the collective voice asks "Qu’est-ce que c’est?": "What is it?"

Strong acoustic and movement vocabularies in this work are further supported by the considered costume design.  Based on a monochromatic scale, midnight blue, black and grey form the main colour palette with the occasional touch of silver glancing off the range of thoughtfully selected urban-casual gear.  I enjoyed the subtle accents to the dancers’ clothing which creatively showcased and accommodated their individual styles and personalities.

With school bells ringing I’m called to final attention:  what creates a bully?  After watching this work, the recipe would appear to boil down to equal proportions of hunger and habit, i.e. if you mix human frailty and a certain propensity for repetition with an insufficient supply of respect, acceptance and steak and cheese pies, you might have yourself a problem…

The tireless You Better Run Boy emphasises both a need to break with the habits of personal and collective brutality to stop cyclic patterns of "heartless and senseless" behaviour, while at the same time presenting a compassionate and powerful celebration of the human spirit.  

In the end, Ieremia’s ambient choral mode and rich tapestry of movement is well matched by his dancers’ individual flair and whole-hearted commitment, with You Better Run Boy not only engaging and entertaining, but potentially transformative and ultimately uplifting.
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