Hip hop hopes for Fiji’s Mata Dance Crew

The combination of energy, emotion, lyrical flow and body movement to the backdrop of musical beats, ring the hip hop hopes and dreams for the Mata Dance Crew.

The group is small, new and young and they represent a segment of the performing arts community that seldom takes centre stage in Fiji.

Yet, what they lack for in numbers, they make up for in passion for a genre of dance which took them to New Zealand in April this year – and if the stars align, to the United States.

Borne out of the Aue Dance School in Suva and barely a year old, Mata is a group of 20 super-fit, talented young dancers between the ages of 13 and 26, who are aiming to represent Fiji at the World Hip Hop Championships in Phoenix, Arizona in August.

Crew leader Tevita Tobeyaweni told Fiji Plus that Mata have big dreams and are committed to representing Fiji in hip hop.

“The competition in New Zealand was such a great experience. I had never been so nervous on the stage as I heard the crowd cheering and then the MC call out Fiji’s name” Tevita confessed.

“We entered three divisions when we went to NZ and competed against Papua New Guinea, Samoa and Tonga. We came first in the Junior and Mega crew division.”

On their way to New Zealand, the team struggled to find the $100,000 required to send the full team, reaching only half the required target. They had to rely on New Zealand-based friends and family to meet the shortfall.

While in April they danced-off against neighbouring Pacific countries, when they go to Arizona, they will go head to head with teams from 50 countries from around the world.

“When you work hard for something and you get the results, it is very reassuring. New Zealand really opened everyone’s eyes because our dancers were able to attend workshops, and meet dancers that they looked up to,” Tevita explained.

“New Zealand is known to have produced some of the best dancers in the world so we were all star-struck even when they just walked past us during the competition.”

While the energy is high and the passion is great, Mata’s commitment and excitement is overshadowed by the reality that they are still a long way from raising the funds required to get to Arizona.

The crew is back to fundraising – this time to raise another US $100,000, if they are to catch the four flights required to fly Fiji’s hip hop flag.

The strategy they’ve employed is to “go hard or go home” and so they’ve teamed up with big name creative colleagues from the music and fashion industries to help them meet the cost of the Arizona trip.

“It hasn’t been easy but it’s rewarding to be good at something we are dabbling in, something we were told is foreign to Fijians. That has actually motivated the crew.”

Tevita believes representation in Arizona could be the catalyst to a great new dance revolution.

In the months of preparation, Mata has witnessed a steady stream of enthusiastic, passionate and committed dancers who bring with them raw hip hop talent to the Fijian dance scene.

As they come to terms with the thought of competing with some of the best dancers from around the world, the Mata dancers have already learnt to not overthink the art of their dance but to instead have fun while dancing their dreams into realities.

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