Saturday, June 24, 2006

Revolution Evolution

I guess it's time to post something on this here blog. And in keeping with my birthname of Born Dancin' (check the birth certificate!) I've spent much of the past week distracting myself from my otherwise fraught and distressing personal life (those biting-down-on-knuckle shuddering existential questions on morning tram rides, WTF?!?! et so forth) by immersing myself in some local dance culture. And being the arty sort that I am, you know I'm not talking commercial dance parties.

Regular readers of this site will be well aware of its regular visits to the Australian Ballet's opening nights (implied: non-regular readers - not so well aware). Briefly, I've been to every opening night for the past year and a half. And I've enjoyed every one.

The reasons for this are simple. This site was initiated in order to assess the catering at opening nights. Not the most altruistic of aims, granted. And it became apparent quite quickly that "mushrooom/fetta arancini balls a plus, olive and chicken pastizzi a minus" wasn't really a Shakespearean sonnet. But the brief still holds. AHFLV is all about the stories behind The Story, and I maintain the belief that there is someone out there who cares about said story (behind The Story). The story being the catering. But clearly: not really about the catering, you know?

The Oz Ballet put on a helluva show.

Catering-wise, anyway. The new AB show, Revolutions, probably isn't flash enough to win over non-ballet folks. It's a decent number which will offer plenty to enthrall ballet buffs, and those with an interest in ballet history will certainly enjoy it, since it's a reworking of three bits by Fokine, big man of modern (read: early C.20th) ballet. Not as spectacular as some recent shows, though. In fact this year has been a bit of a solid, well-drilled season, as opposed to last year's boom crash ballets.

The third piece of the evening is all about the sex. Set in a harem, there's a very Eyes Wide Shut love-in followed by lots of cutlasses to the throat, and it's quite a thrill, if kind of overblown and silly. I bring all this up because during this scene, the older gent sitting to my right was getting...a bit het up. His hands were fluttering and his breathing had become more shallow and at one point he whispered "gooood giiiirl" and I was...worried what would happen next. As soon as the night ended his partner told him he should quickly go now, and he bolted to the exit. I was slightly concerned by all this. Is this what the ballet is to some people? A culturally acceptable way to 'enjoy oneself'?

When the curtain rose for the bows, who else was there with the dancers but my excited neighbour!? He'd been the guy who staged the thing!

Daft me! I immediately felt bad for completely and unforgivably misconstruing the situation.

Not saying that ballet can't be pretty sexy though. I bet there was at least one older fella (or lass) getting an extra kick from the show.

The night before, I caught the opening of With a Bullet: The Album Project. It's great. It's the show you should see if you don't like/get/haven't seen contemporary dance. It's the show you should see if you do/have. I can't imagine somebody not liking it. My plus one for the night called it an adrenaline shot. And it really is.

Curated by Natalie Cursio (one of the best indie choreographers in Melbourne), the show consists of eight choreographers creating a piece around the first song they ever produced a dance number to. As in, dancing around the lounge room with your sister.

So you've got Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, Chariots of Fire, the Ghostbusters theme, and much more (I mean five more). There's a response to a psychotropic experience listening to a meditation track (not all of the choreographers were eight when they first began dancing, see). And it's one of the funniest things I've seen in ages. It explores the self-absorption of the New Age scene, the way one's own spirituality can seem ridiculous to an outsider, and the ego required to destroy one's ego. It's almost entirely danced by one man's butt.

Go see this show, for the love of whatever. It's smart and cheeky and fun and accessible.

I also spent this afternoon watching Lucy Guerin prepare her new dance work for the Melbourne International Arts Festival. It's a dance piece based on the Westgate Bridge collapse a few decades back. That sounds like a tough call. I think she might have pulled it off. I probably can't say much more yet. But at this point, at least, it's looking sublime.

If I could spend another life following the same footsteps, twists and phrases I've used in this one, I don't think I'd be any closer to understanding them.

No comments: