Amrita Hepi is back. Riding the momentum of her recent sold-out tour of Justin Bieber dance classes, the choreographer, artist, writer and radio host is returning to Brisbane, taking over the Woolly Mammoth on March 23 and 24 with her new Beyoncé "Formation" class.
But this is no ordinary dance class. Beyoncé’s single Formation went viral upon its release in February thanks to its hashtag-able lyrics and themes of racial and female empowerment. They’re ideas that resonate with Hepi, who’s a Bundulung and Ngapuhi woman. “I love the support of women of colour in ‘Formation’ and the overall message of empowerment,” she says. “It felt like the solidification or anthem for a movement.”
To the casual onlooker, it might seem Hepi is simply teaching people moves for the latest dance music video, but for her it’s important to make it an inclusive experience. Her events are open to people of all shapes, sizes and genders (she’s even had Auslan interpreters translating at past classes). “Sometimes with dance classes it can feel quite unknown or intimidating,” she says. “[But] everyone tends to band together and just go off. It’s definitely the most fun thing I have done in my life.”
Bey’s controversial performance of "Formation" during the recent Super Bowl halftime show made reference to the Black Panthers through the black berets and black power salutes of her dancers. For anyone concerned about the appropriateness of taking a Formation dance class given the song’s connection to the United States’ #blacklivesmatter movement, Hepi is careful to explain.
“I am indigenous to Australia and I always extend events like this to my community. I make sure the space is safe and inclusive,” she says. “If you are in attendance you are in alliance to this very powerful movement.”
The classes kick off at 6pm each night, with three different sessions available. Remember: BYO hot sauce.
Beyoncé "Formation" dance classes will take place in Brisbane on March 23 and 24 at the Woolly Mammoth Mane Stage, with three sessions each night.