Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I Like This

Directed and Choreographed by Antony Hamilton & Byron Perry

Chunky Move Studio, Melbourne. Presented as part of the Next Move program.

November 21, 2008

Two men sit crouched in front of a row of chairs, surrounded by stereo equipment and electrical cables which cover the floor like over-sized spaghetti. With split-second timing, they flick handheld globes on and off in time with the music, illuminating the small cast.

As the piece develops, the two men (director/choreographers Antony Hamilton and Byron Perry, pictured) occasionally step out of their performance role, slipping into a reality-tv style discussion about where next to direct the action. It comes close to being another experiment in ‘what makes a performance’, a prevalent theme of the dance program in this year’s Melbourne International Arts Festival.

The young performers (Lee Serle, Stephanie Lake and Alisdair Macindoe) are well suited to the cartoonish antics required of them, Lake in particular holds the show together in her role as narrator.

It’s a light-hearted romp, clearly stamped with the personalities of the two creators, but it’s also pretty light on content. While vaguely entertaining, it doesn’t bode well for the future of dance as an artform if this pop-art is all we have to look forward to in the next generation of choreographers.

I have seen work by both of these artists which was more promising, but also less adventurous (see A Volume Problem and The Counting, which will both be remounted by Rogue in the 2009 Dance Massive program). With I Like This, Hamilton & Perry have joined the ever expanding discipline-creep of choreographers who take on too much responsibility for directing and writing cross genre work, and generally fail. The worst part is, that even the ‘pure movement’ in this piece is not much beyond what you would expect of a recent graduate, and certainly far below the potential of these two.

Many elements of the work contained echoes of other performances we have seen this year, which isn’t really surprising, given that it’s the same group of people creating them. What bothered me was the lack of further development and investigation.

Which leads to the question, why were these two dancers given this opportunity? Sure, they have been dabbling in choreography, but are they really ready to create a full-length production with all the trimmings? Isn’t there someone else on the cusp of a choreographic career, possibly outside the clique of regular Chunky performers, who could have come up with something a little more solid?

It seems bizarre that even with all the choreographic research going on in the post-graduate dance program just across the road at VCA, there was nothing valuable or interesting enough for the slick marketing of our flagship contemporary company to take on. Instead, they opted for the media friendly, well known names of popular performers who were sure to draw the crowds.

That’s not to say that we shouldn’t congratulate Chunky Move for using their resources to support the industry and encourage choreographic development. Let’s just hope that subsequent pieces produced under the Next Move banner will be given the time and space required to blossom into more fully fledged artworks.

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