AS THE world of hip hop dance continues to grow, there's no shortage of companies to make you smile, whoop and holler. Less ubiquitous are groups who prompt you to stop and think – and even more thin on the ground are choreographers like French-born Mickal Le Mer who take the genre to a completely new level.
Le Mer has been working with artists from the worlds of music, theatre and circus for years, and for this latest venture, Na Grani, he collaborated with dancers from the industrial Russian city of Yekaterinburg. Not just dancers like his own Compagnie S'poart, who specialise in hip hop, but contemporary dancers who produce movement with a whole other vocabulary.
The result is a remarkable fusion of the two. Hip hop may feel like the dominant genre, especially during the daring head spins, back flips and sweeping leg moves or "helicopters". Yet even then, there is something more at play – the work has a heart which beats to a different drum.
Le Mer says he was inspired both by the city of Yekaterinburg and the dancers he worked with during Na Grani's creation, and this certainly seems to have given his moves an emotional resonance. To a pounding, largely fast-paced soundtrack, the seven performers communicated love, friendship, aggression and city living, almost always in relation to each other, while the large, shifting boxes and light beams that made up the set gave the work a suitably urban home in which to reside.