Thinking Out(side) of the Box
By Leah Maclean
Still sitting pretty in his twenties, Identity Dance Company’s Artistic Director, Andrew Cesan, has quite the inventory of achievements. From recognised nationally and internationally award winning choreography and performance, in both tap and hip-hop, to following a path in music, to teaching and mentoring in the private sector. It’s safe to say Andrew leads an intensely busy life.
This month Andrew, who is a principal choreographer for the genre bending Out of the Box, is hitting the festival circuit with the production. First, Out of the Box will be gracing the stage in the Auckland Tempo Dance Festival (16thand 18th) and then heads down to the Nelson Art’s Festival on the 20th. “Out of the Box is exploration into the aesthetics of hip-hop dance culture,” Andrew describes. “It’s a platform that allows hip-hop dancers to fully explore ideas without any limitations, such as competition regulations or what is seen as ‘cool’.”
Out of the Box can be referred to as an ‘urban contemporary’ performance with pieces from the talents of Allister Salaivao, Chris Ofanoa, street dance and hip hop crew Projekt, Kat Walker, Jacob Yarr and Ken Vaega, Matthew Moore, Joshua Cesan, Joshua Faleatua, Chevy Mikaere, Jacqui Cesan, Kayla Paige and Paul Wilson, Nathan Kara and Taniora Motuere. Audiences will be swept into a world built on high-energy and experimentation. “It takes what you think hip-hop is, dissects it and stitches it back together,” says Andrew. In the past the show has been lauded as ‘charming’ and ‘explosive’ with critics indicating a desire to see the performance again. “Out of the Box and now out of my mind with the possibilities of what hip-hop can achieve.” (Kerry Wallis for Theatreview, 2014)
Accolades aside a serious question needs to be asked, what was it that encouraged the foundation of Out of the Box? Andrew stresses the idea that the performance is all about being a limitless platform for hip-hop dancers. He highlights the issue of hip-hop being seen as a competition focused genre with the dancers and choreographers dubbed as sports people rather than artists. “New Zealand is known to have strong hip-hop teams at the world championships,” he says but in turn feels that the dancers aren’t really getting much back due to the fact that they’re having to pay to do what they love, which is a boundary in itself. And with the expenses of travel it would be safe to say that the most cost-effective strategy for the performers is to stick with what the competition calls for, hindering the chance for experimentation. Out of the Box was born to expand on the opportunities and talents of the dancers/choreographers. “You can expect to see all the excitement of competition hip-hop. Stunts and intricate dance movements, but not in the usual hip-hop context.”
The title speaks for itself really, Out of the Box promises to be an indulging blend of masterful talent, attitude, exemplary music and of course a bit of rule breaking. Andrew sees the potential and the hope to one day have the work put on an international scale, where more urban contemporary artists can be introduced to an opportunity for creating and touring new work outside of competition constraints. “People should see Out of the Box because it’s not your average hip-hop show.”
Read DANZ Magazine Article - IDentity: Stay True to Yourself