Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Shut Up and Dance

T’ other night I was in the audience for NYID’s Strangeland and was sitting right behind the dozen-odd teens from Belgian company Ontroerend Goed’s Once and for all we’re gonna tell you who we are so shut up and listen. Boy, were they acting up. They were chattering away and clambering over each other and one boy started scrolling through photos on his iPhone for the second half of the performance and I’m pretty sure one girl actually climbed down under her seat and dropped down behind the seating bank so she could run off.

Not proper Melbourne theatre behaviour at all, and when the lights came up afterwards someone to my left remarked that they’d “wanted to punch them in the head”. Corporeal punishment clearly isn’t dead.

I enjoyed
Once and For All a lot more than Strangeland. The performers were pretty much acting the way they had in the audience, except on a stage. They were sometimes irritating in the way the youth of today and every day are and that was what made it enjoyable. We in the audience were the oldies and that was the soul of the piece. It was stupid and pointless and yet totally relevant theatre that didn’t seem to be trying to mythologise adolescence or make these people’s lives anything other than what they were.

More importantly, though, it featured a short sequence in which the kids began dancing and, being Belgian, they danced jumpstyle! Long-time readers here will obviously know what I thought of that.

It’s been a while since I posted something on Geographically Specific Youth Dance Trends, but here’s an interesting article on Jerkin’. Jerkin’ is an LA thing that’s been around for a year or more; it’s like a lot of other dance styles except that its proponents blend hip-hop with skinny jeans and tatts and mohawks and other things more closely associated with dorky white indie rock and Euro street dance. It’s like tektonik if tektonik was actually cool or krumping if krumpers were lanky fashionistas who weren’t that great at dancing.

But even though it’s kind of lame and probably became popular because it’s easy and has its roots in a whole pile of earlier dance styles that jerkers wouldn’t even know about, the article above makes a good point about how dancing in public, for a lot of teens, is something to be regretted afterwards, when you’re old and realise what a fool you looked.

“With Pavlovian response, the students form a makeshift dance floor and do the Pin Drop, the Reject, the Sponge Bob, the Dip ... jerkin’. This might be sponsored by the BSA, but the spontaneous locomotion has kids of varying ethnicities and dance abilities covalently bonded by their love of dancing, incandescent color and constrictive denim. Only teen culture could birth something imbued with such unselfconscious, unironic joy. Who in their right mind wouldn’t jerk? This is

Me? I’m old, like Beckett. And like Beckett, all I want to do is sit on my arse and fart and think of Dante.

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