Next Wave: Gender shifting, hardcore skipping

Nicola Shafer

Medal-worthy rope gymnastics prevailed in Ladiez of da League's jump-rope theatre piece Tour of Booty. Everything about these girls is kick-ass: their moves, their voices, their messages. The troupe combines hip-hop, singing, hardcore skipping and a generous helping of cross-cultural references to deliver an hilarious and often-times seriously political smorgasbord of a performance.

Attention grabbing and oozing raw energy, Tour of Booty attains a degree of physicality that is astounding: imagine the difficulty of break dance moves performed over a rapidly turning rope. The Ladiez hold their audience in a state of suspension with a spectacle of polished moves and cabaret-style duets.

Action aside, the content is very clever. Storylines weave in and out of the sometimes amusing, sometimes poignant song/hip hop interludes. The battle becomes one between “Anglos” and “Asians”, somewhere in the midst of which love has blossomed. Heterosexual love paradigms are turned sideways and inside out, replaced by a (ooh aah) lesbian relationship, whose main point of taboo lies in the fact that it crosses racial boundaries.

A fitting interlude to the Ladiez performance arrived in the form of drag king posse The Kingpins who paraded their booty in a brilliant send-up of gangsta rap misogyny, miming and thrusting to the likes of Public Enemy. The beauty of The Kingpins lies in their uncanny representation of the male gangster music world without trying to caricature it. Rather, they merely re-present the images and sounds of the rap genre with a tiny twist. In leaving the audience questioning the performers' true gender (are these young boys or girls?), the mockery becomes subtle and quite captivating.

With tongue in cheek humour and a take-no-prisoners attitude, Tour of Booty manages to convey the ridiculous ways society still views race and sexuality, without undermining the serious implications of such views.

Ladiez of da League with special guests The Kingpins, Tour of Booty, BMW Edge, Federation Square, Melbourne, May 29

RealTime issue #62 Aug-Sept 2004 pg. Onl

© Nicola Shafer; for permission to reproduce apply to realtime@realtimearts.net

1 August 2004