Nick Power is a b*boy and choreographer, and a 2018 Sidney Myer Creative Fellow. His work Between Tiny Cities is heading to Sydney and Melbourne this July.
This article was first published in the December 18/Janurary 19 issue of "Dance Australia".
Dance Australia: Where did you grow up?
Nick Power: I was born and grew up in the regional Queensland town of Toowoomba. I live in Sydney these days.
Do you come from an artistic family?
My brother, Damien, is a comedian. He does shows all around the world and appears on TV regularly. I’m so glad I have a brother in the performing arts, we can compare notes and support each other. My mum loves the arts, she paints in her spare time. I also have a brother, Will, who is a world champion Indycar driver.
How did you discover break dance?
I discovered breaking through an Australian underground hip hop magazine, Hype. It had graffiti and music and also a page about the Australian and international breaking scene. This sparked my interest. I was around 15 at the time. After seeing that article in Hype magazine I used to rent a classic old school breakdance video called Beat Street from my local store. I’d watch the moves over and over again in slow motion and taught myself that way.
How did you transition from amateur to professional?
After moving to Brisbane I started training with some local dance crews, competing in battles and performing in nightclubs. After a few years of gaining skills and connections I began to get offered opportunities to teach and perform at local dance festivals, this broadened my thinking around dance and the potential to make a career path started to appear.
You’ve worked with several contemporary dance and physical theatre companies, including Tracks Dance and Stalker Theatre, and even had an international residency at the Cite International Des Arts in Paris. How did that all come about?
It was through dance festivals, particularly Stamp Ground, where I was exposed to new ways of working and also got to meet [people] who seemed to be interested in what I could offer. The opportunity to create shows with Tracks and Stalker opened me up to a whole new world. I was able to follow my raw instinct as a choreographer, learning on the job. It was exciting and new and I had some early success – my first work for Stalker did a big European tour … but I knew I still had a long way to go and a lot to learn. I still feel that way.
You worked with the remote Aboriginal community of Lajamanu over 10 years – what was your role in that project?
I was youth choreographer, predominantly working with the young people in the school but also getting mentored by the elders of the community about Walpiri culture. This experience changed my life; it raised a lot of questions for me particularly around my own connection to culture. I started to realise that hip hop had given me a dance form that had its own history, rituals and connection to culture. This realisation gave me a clear path forward for my choreographic practice.
How did your work at Lajamanu inform your first full-length work, Cypher?
A cypher is the circular dance ritual that forms at hip hop jams, with dancers vying for the centre space to dance their set, one at a time. Through my experiences in Lajamanu I realised that this was our hip hop ritual - it encompassed community, rivalry, celebration and knowledge, it has its own language and set of rules. The cypher was my entry point into hip hop.
Your second work, Between Tiny Cities, premiered at Dance Massive and has had seasons in Phnom Penh, Darwin, at APAM and in Hong Kong … what is it about?
It’s a duet featuring a dancer from Darwin (Aaron Lim) and a dancer from Phnom Penh (Erak Mith). In the work I take my orientation from b*boy battle culture to explore masculinity and friendship through an intercultural perspective.
What are your plans for your Sidney Myer Fellowship?
I just want to keep developing as a dance artist. I’m keen to make some new work, connect with inspiring humans and continue to learn. I’m truly excited about what will come of this incredible opportunity, I’m still pinching myself to make sure it’s real!
Top photo: Thoeun Veassna.