Branch Nebula demo’s evolution

Keith Gallasch

Two brute skateboard ramps dip face to face in the forecourt of Circular Quay’s elegant, mid-Victorian Customs House. Dimly visible beneath the slipways, squirming figures slither into harsh sunlight like emergent life-forms. Two merge organically with their boards, one with his BMX-bike. Three more emerge, one of them, entwined in black concertina-ish plastic tubing which she vigorously sheds, joins another as fellow dancer while the third is a parkour traceur. They learn quickly to athletically and aesthetically duck and weave between and beneath the increasingly dangerous speedsters, who fly high and swoop like predators to Lucy Cliché’s pulsing electronica.


DEMO, Branch Nebula, photo Mark Metcalfe

Once individual skills, male and female, have vigorously displayed genetic advantage, it’s time for emergent mutualism—paired flight high above the ramps for those on wheels, while the movers catch rides, share risk and celebrate collaboration with proud, cheesy tableaux straight out of circus. Suddenly, pink smoke pours apocalyptically from the BMX (scarily apt on a bushfire haze-filled Sydney day), the soundtrack roars and this seemingly robust world collapses. But out of stillness and silence, life resiliently returns in a series of virtuosic turns. At half an hour, DEMO is a brisk, cheerful, frequently thrilling parable of hope realised—with the most basic of technologies—by young bodies with trust in their collective strength.

City of Sydney: Branch Nebula, DEMO, co-directors Lee Wilson, Mirabelle Wouters; performer-devisors: dancers Marnie Palomares, Kathryn Puie, skater Sam Renwick, Aimee Massie, BMX Brock Horneman, parkour Antek Marciniec, composer Lucy Cliché, producer Intimate Spectacle (Harley Stumm); Customs House Square, Sydney, 30 Oct-3 Nov

Top image credit: DEMO, Branch Nebula, photo Mark Metcalfe

6 December 2019