Black Grace (New Zealand)
Black Grace (New Zealand): Crying Men
This performance by New Zealand’s most dynamic dance company, Black Grace, is anchored by “Crying Men,” a powerful exploration of toxic masculinity. Black Grace’s choreographer Neil Ieremia, heard from a public-defender who interviews with the meanest male criminals inevitably lead to tears, suggesting a repressed sensitivity that contributed to their violence. Ieremia began pondering this idea, tracing it to the traditional cultures of New Zealand, his own Samoan ancestry and the loss of the matriarch in customary family structures. It was a tale of cultural loss and unexpectedly tragic consequences—a potent premise for this dramatic spectacle.
For “Crying Men,” Ieremia recruited popular New Zealand writer Victor Rodger, whose intense poetic verses play out over the twisted textures of industrial hip-hop. In perfect lockstep and with peerless fluidity, the dancers share painful stories with athleticism and agility, implicitly suggesting a corrective to the toxic dangers of men’s emotional repression. Praised as “fierce and angular [and] faultlessly performed” by the New Zealand Herald, “Crying Men” is a must-see during this moment of international reckoning. Black Grace pairs it with three other pieces, all hitting the highlights of their previous repertoire and pulling traditional Polynesian dance motifs onto the contemporary stage.