"Hyper" doesn't quite describe the frenetic yet impeccably choreographed dance you see when the company ISH takes the stage. "Eye-popping" is a better descriptor of New Victory Theater's production of the hour-long "street dance"-themed show. With its seven young, highly talented dancers, HyperISH combines diverse dance styles with some (unnecessary) spoken-word interludes, getting its "be-yourself" message across more with its moves than with its monologues.
ISH was founded in 1999 by Marco Gerris, who named his company after the suffix -ish to suggest an indistinct, indefinable quality. That certainly is the case with this show, with its mélange of hard-driving music and dance "from the Dutch street scene and club circuit." If there are any rules left in dance, the ISH folks are determined to break them.
The show blends dance styles in a series of fresh, exciting segments, some solo, some partnered. Suriname native Shailesh Bahoran mixes hip-hop with traditional Indian dance, and British-born Martin Barnes combines modern dance with Brazilian capoeira (a blend of dance and martial arts), while Netherlanders Arnold Put and Carl Refos dazzle with their impressive breakdancing. One of the shows highlights is an excitingly choreographed, precisely executed body-popping routine by three of these male dancers that left the audience cheering.
The three women in HyperISH have styles all their own. Netherlander Raquel Tijsterman performs a noteworthy routine that combines of ballet and hip-hop. Her fellow countrywoman Melanie Van Der Mee gets the audience's blood racing with her blend of martial arts and hip-hop. Swedish Micka Karlsson draws on her experience as an aerial acrobat to inform her contemporary dance routine.
Interspersed with these captivating dance routines are a few anecdotes and poems in which the dancers encourage audience members, young and old, to discover their individuality and resist society's conformity machine. That's certainly a fine lesson to teach, but at times it is taught clumsily, especially for an audience aged eight and up. In one number, a dancer brags about being kicked out of school, and in another, piped-in voices rail against consumerism. These episodes ring with slipshod, folksy philosophizing. HyperISH would better convey its call to individuality if it focused on the iconoclasm symbolized in its dance. You don't always need words to get your message across.