Tuesday, March 31, 2009


And so it begins again. The Melbourne International Comedy Festival.


Funny Pics / hand-recursion

Monday, March 30, 2009



(I have a home office).

One morning last week I woke to find that a whole crazy bunchload of my little ant friends had invaded the kitchen and were hanging around a plate I had forgotten to wash. After I basically lost my shit and howled the secret name of G-d and made a coffee, I determined to put my recent ant experiments to the test. I grabbed a few handfuls of catnip from the garden, tore ‘em up and sprinkled them around the plate and general near-plate area. GUESS WHAT ANT-FACTERS? Within an hour or two the ants racked the heck out of there. Chalk one up for modern science, and no ants were harmed either.

On to today’s facts.

First a quiz: have you been doing your homework? If so, you should be able to work this out. If not: IDIOT! Why do I even bother? You’re wasting my time and you’re wasting your own time and if there’s one thing we can all agree on it’s surely that the internet is not a place we go to waste time.

Here is the quiz.

What’s this?

The correct answer will be provided at the end of today’s lesson.

Did you know that one of the ways ants communicate is by rubbing body parts together to create clicking noises? A bit like The Fonz clicking his fingers and going “Eeeeyyyyy…” Ants are cool.

Ants also “sing” to each other to communicate.

Some other insects can imitate these sounds and sneak into an ant colony, where the ants will take care of them as if the intruder were one of their own! Truly a devilish business, being an ant! Whom do you trust?


Have you worked out that puzzle I gave you yet? Answer coming up.

A scientist in the UK found that when he recreated the sound of a queen ant and played it to a colony, all of the workers stood to attention and greeted the tiny speakers. I read this in The Guardian, which is where I have stolen most of today’s facts.

Another fact from this article is that some kinds of ants domesticate aphids, “tranquillising them with drugs to keep them docile and ‘milking’ them with their antennae for a sugary honeydew.” That’s amazing. Even The Guardian says that ants are “amazing”.

Now for the cruncher: pencils down! What’s your answer? What is it? Let’s see the picture again.

Did you get it? If you said “a bridge made of ants, their bodies linked together in order to cross some kind of gulf” then you are CORRECT.


Wednesday, March 25, 2009


Mitchell Butel seems like a nice guy. He's a Melbourne actor. I've seen him in a bunch of shows, good and not-so-good. I've never paid particular attention to his hair.

Which might be why the following link MAKES NO SENSE TO ME.

What is the connection between rice paper rolls and 'Mitchell Butel Hair'?

The greatest mystery of our times.

Friday, March 20, 2009


Geez, the posts here at Born Dancin’ are coming thick and fast, or thin and slow depending on your internet speed and/or perceptual capabilities. Before proceeding, however, I will remind you to go along to Hoipolloi’s Floating if you’re in Melbourne. On till Sunday. It will make your hair shinier and teeth whiter.

Anyway, while engaging in one of my regular investigations into irregular dance styles in Europe, I came across DISCOFOX. Discofox was big in the 70s, especially in more Northern European countries. It came about at roughly the same time disco hit it big in the West, but deserved its own name because it was subtly different. Discofox is obviously an awesome name for anything, but the actual dancing doesn’t live up to the hype. In short, it’s disco toned down so it can be done as a more structured partnered dance, kind of like the simplest forms of ballroom, salsa, slow dancing and swing. As you can see, the result is pretty much the kind of dancing your grandparents do at weddings.

What really interested me, though, is that DISCOFOX NEVER DIED. When disco took a nosedive in the US, discofox kept getting stronger, and has evolved to the point where competitive discofox championships still take place in Germany and Switzerland.

And THESE led me to the most disturbing discovery of all – that competitive disco dancing can be as strange as jumpstyle or tecktonik any of the other Eurodances that the kids are doing.

Here’s a clip from a Swedish competition that terrifies me. It’s like a dozen blonde women were fed handfuls of cocaine, let loose on a highschool gymnasium and told that only their dancing could save the lives of their families. The horrific level of energy on offer here is only matched by the fact that none of the dancers seem at all aware of each other, despite the distinct possibility that one of those high kicks could easily take a person’s head off.

Speaking of high kicks, here’s the greatest action scene I’ve ever witnessed, at least in the genre of “fights in which the hero makes no sense whatsoever”. I do laud a culture which allows used car salesmen to live out their dreams of being in the Matrix, and the first appearance of our protagonist (I use the term loosely) honestly sends shivers down my spine.


This is only the second of two action films in which the eating of confectionary takes a prominent position in a fight set-up (the first is Jackie Chan’s super-cool Indiana Jones rip-off Armour of God).

And the pretty average special effects are compensated for by adding a whoosh effect to every single movement our hero does, including waggling his finger.

And to conclude and draw together this sorry and sundry assortment of oddments, I will point out that if I ever saw a dancer pull off the final move this Tamil superman hits us with, I would declare said dancer the winner of life and we can all go home now, goodnight folks.

Thursday, March 19, 2009



The performers are Welsh

They are completely adorable and you will love them

The show is as funny as anything you’ll see in the Comedy Festival

They create the highest level of audience anarchy I may have ever witnessed: audience members talking back, heckling, taking toilet breaks, cracking jokes, talking to each other during the performance. During THEATRE

They make this happen without making any of it seeming intentional

They also tell a cute magical realist story, sort of, about an island off Wales that floated free of the mainland

The story perfectly mirrors the form of the piece, though – both are about connection and disconnection, crossing over, and breaking down not just the fourth wall of theatre but every other wall as well

Like Tristram Shandy, the digressions are kind of the point

There’s an ace bit of super-8 footage featuring a middle-aged man dressed as a turtle

There is also a song about the third-longest town name in the world

There is a man in socks and undies wearing a life-preserver made of oranges

There are lots of lists

You will be asked to close your eyes at one point, and it is worth not peeping (I didn’t)

You will get presents as you leave

You will not want to leave (everyone just hung around after it was over, and the main performer explained that he was still talking only because there were still people in the audience)

You will be happier after leaving than you were on entering. I think that even the deeply resentful audience member who looked very nonplussed at the incessant interruptions to the “narrative” might have finally found some enjoyment from the piece. Anyone less than 100% curmudgeonly will surely do the same (I consider myself about 87% churl, personally)

They are Welsh, as previously mentioned

You will love them, as previously mentioned

I think this show has already made my top ten list for 2009 and I don’t even make top ten lists. In short, this show is the kind of thing I like beyond words. Think the spirit of Elbow Room’s There, the controlled chaos of Black Lung, the charisma of the best Brit comics, the fabulism of Lally Katz, the media-muck of NYID, the silliness of the Melbourne Junkyard set and the shows I always invent in my head while watching other shows I’m not enjoying so much.

I enjoyed this a lot.

Cool Holiday


There would be no one pretending to be asleep on stage. Would be no more use of suicide as a device for narrative closure. No more use of real meat for some supposedly visceral effect. There would be an understanding that black curtains and walls are not the depthless black you find when you wake in the night and grope for some visual handhold on reality but are kind of dull grey and ugly and might be best used when the affective atmosphere you’re trying to create is dull grey and ugly.

There might be fewer metaphors used for “treading water in a sea of seeming” [Roberto Bolano, 2666], for not saying what wants to be said just to appear more lyrical. Or, at least, metaphors would be allowed some ambivalence. A flock of cawing blackbirds might suggest life; a mirror might not reflect anything much; an expanse of water might be calm and navigable and just a bunch of value-neutral H2O. Or else: no more.

There would be no pre-recorded music. There will be a moratorium on all guitar use for ten years, just to see what happens. There would be no programmes, possibly no reviews. Nobody would laugh just because someone on stage laughs. There would be greater attention paid to hair, and there would be more stories about cats riding bicycles. There would never be audience interaction. There would be less swearing, or perhaps more.

There would be fewer calls for dialogue about the arts, which is just talk. There would be more stupid statements made about the arts. You would, at one point, be gently taken by the hand and led away from the rest of the audience past a heavy set of drapes, down a dimly lit corridor to a small room where a bird in a cage eyes you evilly, and where you find yourself told something you had been secretly thinking the day before but had forgotten. No one would believe that this happened.

You would get the sense that performers were frequently lying to you, or talking about you backstage. They would build a cairn of stones and place a small plastic effigy of you on its top, and laugh and laugh and laugh.

Things would be things again.

English has mostly lost touch with the irrealis mood, the grammatical structures which allow a speaker to utter something while simultaneously connoting the possibility that said utterance is false. Everything that occurs is not a fact but a potentiality. Maybe what we see has not, did not or will not happen. “Maybe” isn’t an example of irrealism, but it’s the best I can do. Claw back some of the subtleties of the subjunctive and the cohortative in order to produce an ambient linguistic grey-zone in which a straightforward realist painting becomes smeared across the canvas.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Get Your Dance Pants On

I was at the Golden Plains music festival on the weekend and some friends were telling me how they woke up to a pretty bizarre sight. A bunch of guys in their 30s/40s were dressed in nothing but helmets and high-vis constructions vests and were rolling down the upright tray of a tipper truck onto a huge pile of mattresses. Someone said “hey, that sounds a lot like Chunky Move’s new show”.

Then someone else said “I thought Mortal Engine was like some ballerinas got lost at a doof”. And someone else said “I thought it was great at first, but it was a bit of a one-trick pony”. And someone else said “were the dancers on rollerskates?” and all agreed that it would have been better if they were.

Mortal Engine’s a good show and pretty stunning visually, but it doesn’t make huge advances on the pioneering of Glow. The light/dark projection system is spectacular; I wasn’t totally sure what the dancers were doing half the time, though. If I saw a piece of straight theatre and said that the set was a killer but I missed most of what the actors got up to, I don’t think it would be much of a recommendation.

As an aside: when I recently saw Red Stitch’s Yellow Moon, during the applause I said to a friend “I really love that light-bulb they used”. He took that as the most damning appraisal of a show he’d ever heard, but I didn’t mean it that way. I quite liked Yellow Moon. It was an awesome light-bulb, however.

I guess Mortal Engine is kind of making a point about the increasing interdependence of the body and immaterial technologies, to the point where they’re inseparable, but I think the concept doesn’t go far enough beyond that.

On the other hand, Russell Dumas’ Huit a Huit is terribly minimal. Dancers in all blacks perform abstract routines in the empty upstairs studio of Dancehouse. They might be improvising, I’m not sure. Some of the paired pieces had lovely phrases but I struggled to connect much with what was going on, and the program notes were very theoretical and academic and not very illuminating. I put it in the category of dance for dancers, which is a very large genre and very important, but sometimes misses me completely.

Also: here’s The Time Machine performed by LEGO.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009


I just flew in from Adelaide and boy are my arms tired (FROM FENDING OFF DRUNK KILLERS SERIOUSLY) so I'll keep it short. Adelaide Fringe wrap-up coming soon.


Go see Sandy Parker's new work if you have the slig
htest interest in contemporary dance in Melbourne. I've never been a fan of her stuff but this is brilliant. I remember the very first dance show that suddenly clicked with me, about 10-12 years ago, and since then there've been only a handful that have conjured up that same feeling. Each time I remember why I maintain this weirdo love of great choreography. Balletlab's Brindabella did it, Stephanie Lake's Love is the Cause was another, and Out of Light just made the roster. It's on until Saturday at Gasworks.


I have no idea why the Milkwaukee Ballet decided to produce a piece based on William Shatner's nutso album Has Been, but this clip of a piece inspired by his cover of Pulp's "Common People" intrigues me.



And finally, I have been remiss in my God-appointed mission to educate the masses in popular dance styles. You're all worded up on tecktonik and jump-style but if you want to regress a bit you should
really bone up on your cabbage patch dance. This meek gent provides a good start. I can't embed the video but come on, you people know how to click.