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Watching New Zealand Dance: A Look At Modern Dance in Recent Music Videos

Dance like no one is watching except a director, a camera crew and a large television and online audience.

Drus Dryden

Sia’s “Chandelier” was a big music video. One billion views big. It's star was young Maddie Ziegler, whose intense dance routine became one of the most talked about performances of 2014.

Modern dance has long been part of the music video. From “Thriller” to Madonna’s “Vogue” to Christopher Walken’s dance/flying in Fatboy Slim’s “Weapon of Choice”, contemporary dance has been a natural fit for dynamic and energetic music videos.

Over the last few months there seems to have been a growing number of indie Kiwi music videos featuring modern dance. Coincidence? Probably. But hopefully one that continues.

One of the leaders in this resurgence is Kiwi director Rowan Pierce who as well as being part of Wellington electro outfit Glass Vaults, works with contemporary dance as a live video/projection designer and has made recent videos for Introverted Dancefloor and Boycrush. "There is a strong contemporary dance culture and community in New Zealand and perhaps that has something to do with its popularity," says Pierce. "I'm more comfortable working with dancers as opposed to actors. There's no need for spoken dialogue, so a music video lends itself to dance. You can focus strongly on composition, form, atmosphere and rhythm."

Here is a quick look at some of the more impressive videos that have recenty featured modern dance.

Introverted Dancefloor – “Happiness Is Such a Mess”


The video for Introverted Dancefloor, aka Bevan Smith’s jaunty "Happiness Is Such a Mess" features the minimalist moves of Errol Anderson and Emma Martin. “I wanted a video with dancers, or at least people who could move very specifically, in a mundane domestic scene,” explains Smith. Indeed the two dancers - and a large black monolith - manage to turn a mundane looking room into something very un-ordinary.

Boycrush – “Flirt”

The inspiration for "Flirt" came after Boycrush aka Alistair Deverick watched Silk, the 100% Silk dococumentary that follows LA Vampires, Ital, Magic Touch, and Maria Minerva across Europe accompanied by dancers.

The result is a video that features the very fluid Jadyn Burt (a recent graduate from the NZ School of Dance), Benny Bro and a troupe from Porirua’s Zone Dance Academy. “It was a mixture of Jadyn and Benny choreographing themselves, around Rowan and my ideas,” explains Deverick. “ It made me realise how cool improvisation can be."

Pierce says that though some of the dancers were unknowns everything worked out. “They [the troupe] turned out to be a group of high school age girls. The costumes we had ready for them were a bunch of teeny tiny skin coloured leotards, they weren't very keen on them and decided against wearing them for totally understandable reasons. Luckily they'd bought blacks. The whole video was shot in Porirua so it was nice to work with people from around the community.”

Die!Die!Die! - “Dark Angel”




Director Dylan Pharazyn had said that he’d never do a dance video. But the talent and location for Die!Die!Die!’s “Dark Angel” changed his mind. Shot in an abandoned Kiev train station the video stars Maria Kotsar dancing among the ruins as her slow and graceful moves contrast with the dim surroundings and punchy track.

Parris Goebel

So is dancing ‘a thing’ in New Zealand? Parris Goebel, the 2015 Young New Zealander of the Year is definitely a thing in LA, where the 24-year-old dancer and choreograher has worked her Polyswag style alongside J. Lo, Justin Bieber, Nicki Minaj and Drake.

Goebel plays a Kiwi exchange student in the upcoming film Step Up: All In, and will continue her choreography in the world of K-Pop where she has worked closely with YG Entertainment - the same label Gangnam Style creator PSY is on - choreographing for artists like CL (Chaelin Lee) and boy band Big Bang.

Congrats New Zealand, it looks like you’ve been dancing your ass off.

Drus Dryden is a regular attendee at Auckland’s No Lights No Lycra and runs Sensitiveboyfriend.com