Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air
Hip hop has inspired Pacific youth for decades but a Pasifika-run dance event called Projekt Feel Good is breaking down barriers.
The event is a collaboration between the Projekt dance collective and the Do Good Feel Good (DGFG) movement.
Organiser Mele Taeiloa says it’s a rare opportunity for enthusiasts from different styles of hip hop dance to come together in a non-competitive environment.
“I think coming away from competition and being in an environment where we’re not staring each other down and competing is honestly just a way of connecting,” she says.
MC Renee Sharp who is also a member of the dance trio ‘Two and Half Brownies’ says, the event also makes hip hop dance more accessible for struggling communities.
“Having grown up in South Auckland, I didn’t quite get these opportunities,”she says.
“I couldn’t even take, like, a $5 lunchtime class because that was too much money. We were very poor so things like this – which is free – oh man, that’s what makes it different.”
Mele Tapueluelu from the DGFG arm of the organising team says it also provides an avenue for budding young Pasifika dancers who may be struggling to overcome cultural barriers.
“That form of dancing is a no go for Tongan females especially krump – because I krump – and that was always tough to share with my family but I’m glad that there’s space for it now,” she says.
Many of these dancers haven’t seen each other since before lockdown which is why hundreds turned out for this year’s event under Auckland’s orange light restrictions earlier this month.
“When we were planning this event, there was a 50-50 chance it wouldn’t go through but I am glad we did go down to orange light so that gave us the green light to go ahead,” Tapuleluelu says.
But now, with two successful editions done and dusted, organisers are now thinking global.
“It would be nice to bring some of the hip hop pioneers, tutors from outside of our country so yeah I think that’s the goal,” says Taeiloa.