Dancers from around the world have been invited to share their talents on social media to star in Steve Aoki's new music video. One particular submission that caught the attention of the popular music producer features Aboriginal group, Yagumbeh Dancers.
'Azukita', a collaboration with latin artist Daddy Yankee, is a high energy track that perhaps wouldn't typically be associated with traditional Indigenous dance, but when US hip-hop dancer and choreographer Darrell Rivera received a personal request from Aoki to create his own clip, he knew that he wanted to try something a bit different.
Accompanying the clip on YouTube, Rivera says, "During my recent trip to Australia, I had the pleasure of not only teaching for the week but also learning about Australian culture as well... I knew with my first experience being in the country I wanted to shoot a dance video for Steve Aoki's new song Azukita.... but as the days went by, my friends and I thought about doing something different than just a dance video... something more touching and meaningful."
In creating the clip, Rivera pulled some dancers and a crew together. He connected with Yagumbeh, led by Luther Cora, to develop the concept of connection through dance as a universal language, as well as the spirit of coming together beyond any barrier.
With this concept in mind, it felt like a perfect fit for directing duo, Shannon Robinson and Joel Zico from SRP Films who came on board to produce the project.
Robinson, who has collaborated with Rivera previously, says that he personally has a fascination with Aboriginal spirituality and dreamtime stories, and was hoping to feature Indigenous performers in a project for some time.
"SRP was founded in 2014 with the aim of creating emotive video content with the power to move and inspire audiences," Robinson told NITV. "This approach grew and over time our projects evolved. My work began to focus on delivering a message of unity and with Azukita, the universal language of music and dance was the perfect vehicle."
FIlmed in just a week at several different locations around the Gold Coast and Brisbane, including Elephant Rock in Currumbin, Zico says that the original plan was to give the Yagumbeh dancers complete creative freedom with the way they wanted to be portrayed, but using Rivera's story as a framework.
"Once we arrived at Elephant Rock at 4am on the first day of shooting and saw everyone ready to perform the smoking ceremony, we knew we had been invited to see and capture something truly special."
"In the end, we got more than we ever could bargain for with Luther and his crew. Once we arrived at Elephant Rock at 4am on the first day of shooting and saw everyone ready to perform the smoking ceremony, we knew we had been invited to see and capture something truly special," Zico says.
"The shoot was very organic. It felt like all the pieces of the puzzle fell in front of us and we had a very supportive team. We overplanned and got the shots we needed early so we could give the dancers and our Cinematographer Mark Desiatov time to play around and experiment, something that is very rarely afforded in filmmaking.
"Everyone involved in the project felt like they were a part of something special and the reaction to the clip, which was posted online and reposted by Aoki, has been overwhelmingly positive.
"Seeing Luther Cora and the rest of the team take pride in the results was a relief as you always want to do the best for your talent to make sure they're well-represented. Having the world be exposed to the Yagumbeh dancers is something that I take great pride in."
Robinson echoes Zica's sentiment, "The exposure and positive responses from both Steve's team and the public have been very exciting, especially because they understood the story and message. Overall, I think the most rewarding part for me is the joy it brought to the Cora family."