‘Pop Lock ‘n Roll’, a new film about finding the strength to dance again – despite life and its unexpected, and sometimes heart-breaking curveballs – opens countrywide on the 29th of September. The cast is led by avid hip hop dancer and ‘Isidingo’ mainstay, Maurice Paige, and singer-songwriter and actress, Yasirah Bhelz. The film is directed by Ziggy Hofmeyr and produced by Mayenzeke Baza, founder of Mandela Bay Pictures. It features heart-stopping dance feats, accompanied by some of South Africa’s best produced hip hop and dance music.
At the centre of the story is Raps (Paige), an ambitious street-style, hip-hop dancer from a poor neighbourhood, who believes that money is everything. He gets a lucky break and works his way up as a professional entertainer. But when he falls in love with Queen (Bhelz), the beautiful Brazilian wife of the gangster-come-producer who’s making his career, and a star in her own right, he discovers that he may have to risk the most important thing in his life to find true happiness.
“For decades, dance movies have taught audiences valuable lessons about pursuing your dreams, expressing yourself, and being true to your heart above all else, to the point of obsession,” says director, Ziggy Hofmeyr. “Audiences love dance films because they are filled with adversity, rivalry, passion, and obstacles to overcome.”
Hofmeyr says he was excited to work with the large and talented production team behind the film, which is on a scale not seen before in South African dance films. “The leads pushed themselves to the limit for the film with many months of professional dance training from a range of top hip-hop dance choreographers,” he says. “More than 50 professional dancers feature in the film, including top dance crews from around the country. With eight choreographers on board, hip-hop music and dance in all its local variations are the foundation on which the film is built. Some of the styles featured include crumping, voguing, popping, locking, pantsula and breakdancing.”
Among the most popular recent dance films is ‘Stomp the Yard’ (2007), a film about the conflict between college fraternities competing in various stepping competitions against their rivals. It opened at number one with a first-weekend gross of $22 million, and it went on to gross $61 million in the United States and $75 million worldwide.
Another favourite was ‘You Got Served’ (2004), which concerns a group of dancers who take part in a street dancing competition. It opened at number one at the box office during Super Bowl weekend, grossing $16 million in its first week, and grossed $48,6 million worldwide. The film has since gone on to gain a cult following.
‘Step Up’ (2006 to 2014), a dance drama consisting of five films, grossed over $651 million worldwide. The perennial favourite Dirty Dancing (1987) has earned over $214 million worldwide as of 2009. Other favourites include Dirty Dancing Havana Nights (2004), and Striptease (1996).
“Dance films are traditionally a major hit with fans,” says Helen Kuun, CEO of Indigenous Film Distribution, which is distributing ‘Pop Lock ‘n Roll’ in South Africa. “Blending storytelling with great hip-hop and house moves, and a high-energy soundtrack, they speak directly to their audiences in a way that regular films are not able to. We are excited about ‘Pop, Lock ‘n Roll’ because it is so fresh and ‘now’, and we believe it’s set to be a favourite for many young South Africans.”
‘Pop Lock n Roll’ is releasing nationwide on 29 September and the premiere will take place on 20 September in Johannesburg.