Chunky Move’s Next Move 2016 presents Remake & Mermermer

Emerging choree sees comedy, props, ballet technique and psychedelia!

Review by Alisha Coon
What I love about going to see ‘emerging choreographer’ evenings, is that you just never know what to expect! Chunky Moves latest Next Move Program was no exception. In fact it was filled with the most unexpected surprises I’ve ever seen in a double bill evening!
The evening opened with Remake, choreographed by Melanie Lane. I was very much looking forward to seeing the exquisite Juliet Burnett in action, and the opening image hinted that we would be experiencing a performance far removed from her well-known performances with The Australian Ballet.
A strange cat-like figurine was in the middle of the stage under a spotlight, only to be removed by Melanie, marking the start of the piece. This random act set the tone for what would be an innovative, highly creative and weirdly surprising performance.
Juliet showed control and elegance from her very first step. Wearing only a skin coloured unitard with pointe shoes, we could see every inch of her stunning balletic figure. The piece began with Neo-classical style progressions from the corner, like a dancer rehearsing and perfecting a new phrase of choreography. Melanie placed herself on the side of the stage playing slow, sustained chords on a keyboard before walking on stage to dress Juliet in a long black tulle skirt. After a large crescendo, the stage darkened and filled with smoke as Juliet ‘couru-ed’ around the stage creating an eerie, almost other-worldly feeling.
This is where things started to get interesting.
Juliet performed the whole next section in a ‘downward dog’ position with her backside facing the audience and the skirt OVER HER HEAD! It created a very abstract and intriguing image that could only be pulled off by someone with such amazing feet and legs as Juliet.
The following section was very clever and amusing for those who are familiar with traditional ballet repertoire. Like a delicate porcelain doll, Juliet floats through various famous ballet steps mixed with abstract gestures. She is handed numerous props and at times, she herself is moved around like a prop. There are many subtle (and some not so subtle!) references to traditional classical steps, images and scenes which the audience found quite amusing.
Melanie’s role in the piece developed from stage hand, to musician, to costume lady and then finally, as the stage was flooded with an intense red light, the pair delved into a duet of intertwined limbs. What started as a slow phrase of balancing and weight shifting soon developed into a playful, upbeat duet.
Juliet then puts on red high-heel boots and plays an electric guitar.
No, I am not kidding.
It is a stark contrast to the elegance of the start of the piece and creates quite a powerful effect – visually and acoustically. The piece slowly winds down with Juliet and Melanie, accompanied by dramatic music and strobe lighting, skillfully maneuvering a large black box around the stage. There is a brilliant reference to The Wizard of Oz which I would have loved to see as the closing image, but the box maneuvering continued a little longer and slowly the stage faded to black.
The second piece of the evening, Mermermer, opened with Jo Lloyd and Nicola Gunn slowly transitioning onto stage almost as if they were at a silent dance party. Their gyrating movements and random murmuring developed into a conversational phrase that had the audience in fits of giggles. Dressed in lurid mismatched leggings and floral shirts, the pair set the scene for a humorous and highly entertaining piece.
With a flowing silver velvet curtain as a backdrop, the pair created comical physical interactions whilst their voices created a landscape of whispers and random text. It wasn’t always easy to hear what the pair were saying in the opening scene, but I feel this was intentional and made it even funnier when you could pick out a random phrase. The text was a mix between explaining movement and naming dance moves, some of which were pure genius and absolutely hilarious
Out came the props.
There was nothing subtle about the use of props. Nicola transformed herself into a living sculpture created with masses of material and sparkly streamers. The image was bold and the process of creation was very entertaining to watch.
The piece evolved into longer, deeper conversations which were carried out whist performing extremely awkward movement phrases. It was weirdly mesmerizing. It was like looking in on very private conversations about nothing, made all the more interesting by their psychedelic tights! Speaking of psychedelic, the piece made several references to the hallucinogenic drug ayahuasca. Nicola’s “running through the forest” of sparkly streamers was one of the highlights of the piece and I could feel the audience wanting to join in with the streamer fun!
The closing scene saw the pair moving throughout the space performing a marathon of repetitive, rhythmical movements. And when I say marathon, I mean MARATHON! It was so high energy, highly repetitive and seemingly went on forever. An extremely long balance on one leg marked the end of the evening creating an image that looked like a wonderful piece of abstract art.
Super weird. Very funny. Highly creative. What a great evening of entertainment!