Live Acts #4: steady boppin’, ass droppin’

Jonathan Marshall

Immersing myself in Philip Brophy’s Sound Punch releases before I went out to Chunky Move’s Live Acts#4 has done something to my brain. I miss the first act…s’okay, I’ve seen it before.Two women rise, feet skywards, from Kate Denborough’s decapitating boxes, restlessly fidgeting with clothing—an inverted, Dali-esque can-can.

In the heady atmosphere of the club, things are getting fuzzy. Video projection warns of impending lift-off before Frances d’Ath’s Pirn morphs on stage. The characteristic Melbourne/Chunky Move fleshy machines are here. D’Ath gives this a computerised clicking—head turns pre-empt torsos and shoulders (“head boppin’, ass droppin’”—Ice Cube). Memories of Live Acts #1-3 leak through. Arms between partner’s legs, leading to interlocking twists, recall Shelley Lasica’s Restricted Situation from LA #1. Twister for intellectuals. All the works have this quality. On this small stage, multiple bodies occupy mutual space. Voiteck’s sharp, gritty techno fuzz clears the air for the performers, placing them in a clean yet distorted machine.

Elvis (Shirley Billings) is in the house, but not looking too good. Viva Las Vegas is low on “viva”, despite ‘Hunka-hunka’ being flanked by the Chunky Move fly-girls. Dead-pan cabaret. I miss Martine Corompt’s anime pet installation and John Meade’s smoking, muppet volcano from earlier LAs. Tonight dark oils hide in the shadows. So much for art. Back to the band!

The design of Byron Perry’s operating theatre drama—Hayflick Limit—recalls Reanimator, but the movement and sound (Aphex Twin’s Nannou) has an almost Renaissance, clockwork feel. The realtime projection of alternative views has cleaned up since Pirn (does this make the earlier, pleasingly viral static ‘not part of the show’?). Two women manipulate a man to the whoops of the crowd. A smirk hides under Fiona Cameron’s lips all night.

Cross-fertilisation between Lucy Guerin and Chunky Move has highlighted the anatomising quality of both, while bringing Guerin towards Gideon Obarzanek’s panto-drama. With Gift, Guerin takes this elsewhere: poppy abstraction, accessible dreams of dancers licked to death like lollipops, or playing with others’ limbs like Christmas treats. Brophy’s masterer—Franc Tetaz—opens up the gorgeous, flowing comedy of the piece with some swinging, French funk (“head boppin’, ass droppin’”).

Then there’s Obarzanek’s Disco.Very and its mish-mash of disco phrases. Where Ransom’s score pounds one 70s classic into another, even using Hendrix riffs to segue between sources, Obarzanek’s choreography is a more subtle melding. I close my stoner eyes and let the turntables dance. Then the dancers double-take and misfire. We see choreographic effort. Even so, Ransom leaves them for dead.

After the packed concentration of the first half, the room becomes a vortical lacuna of movement and sound. Perry’s surgical bed becomes a console table with steady boppin’ DJs behind it. I recall earlier LAs where Obarzanek and Phillip Adams danced spastically to crunchy noise (why is so much techno un-funky?). Professional dancers look weird on the dance floor. Production folk are the real party animals—techie Ruth Bauer is there, bouncing in clogs. Is she performing? Am I?

Live Acts #4 Chunky Move, Revolver Night Club, Melbourne, December 16 – 17

RealTime issue #35 Feb-March 2000 pg. 32

© Jonathan Marshall; for permission to reproduce apply to realtime@realtimearts.net

1 February 2000
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