Monday, May 5, 2008

Blazeblue Oneline

Choreographed by Antony Hamilton
Arts House - Meat Market, North Melbourne

April 30, 2008

Inspired by hip hop culture, Antony Hamilton’s first full length work features live graffiti and dance, presented with a tongue-in-cheek attitude.

Wavering between serious and silly, Hamilton weaves visual art and dance together. At times the experiment is clear, as Hamilton works on a graffiti design, his performance partner Luke Smiles performs similar movements without a spray can, demonstrating the physical element inherent in the activity. While Hamilton does his best to spray quickly, the tempo and energy tends to drop when he turns his back to the audience. Other sections are more abstract, with hip hop postures thrown in amongst the contemporary dance moves.

Breaking up the focus on graffiti are random moments of humour and imagination. A pair of cardboard boxes perform a very cute duet, spinning, popping and caressing, before a remote control mini-van drives across the stage. Super-size cardboard cut-out puppets make an appearance, as does a brilliantly constructed cardboard robot monster, performed by Stuart Shugg.

The set and lighting by Bluebottle play a large part, right from the outset of the performance when swathes of light arc across the space like paint from a spray can. The white performance space is gradually overtaken by Hamilton’s abstract, angular line drawings and colourful paintwork, both of which find echoes in the movement material.

Hamilton clearly has a good eye for design, and both he and Smiles are seasoned performers, yet some elements still seem a little sketchy. The mixture of dance and painting is a risky proposition, and it doesn’t always come off well. The final sequence, painted under ultraviolet light, ends in an attractive design, but the process of creating it is a little flat. Yet even if there are a couple of low points, it’s hard not to enjoy a performance by such charismatic artists.

(Originally published in The Age newspaper)

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