Midsumma is Melbourne’s largest annual pride festival celebrating queer, intersex, transsexual, transgender, bisexual, lesbian and gay culture.
With a twenty – seven year history tucked successfully under its belt, the 2016 visual and performing arts program features more than eighty different acts and events. Various alternative entertainment options include musicals, comedy, drama, cabaret, film, readings, exhibitions, bands, forums, rallies, carnivals and raves.
The Transit Dance Company is one of the most exciting new professional companies to emerge on the local contemporary dance scene. Its performance space and studio facility is located in Kensington, only ten minutes north of the CBD.
Boyz, the organisation’s provocatively – named contribution to the Midsummer calendar, is the brainchild of director and choreographer, Paul Malek.
According to the show’s production notes, the piece “is a reflection on the often frenzied existence of a young man’s life in their early 20’s. The constant self exploration, experimental interaction, and uncontrollable urges that guide you through everyday life.”
Set in a share house, a quintet of dancers is used to potentially challenge, question and reinforce gay stereotypes from the inside out. The chess – piece, big brother collective is quickly defined, consisting of a twink, a hunk, a nerd, a punk and a queen.
Malek’s vision quickly unfolds as a confronting yet accessible work filled with territorial role – playing, raw emotion, entitlement, materialism, jealousy, self – destructive drug taking and easy primal sex. The narrow white dance space (with concept and design by Chris Curran, and construction by Michael Ackerly) is almost given a cat – walk sensibility. Even waiting in the foyer for the show to start, I felt like I was being allowed permission into an exclusive night club. (It should be noted that Madeleine Lynch was in charge of stage and production management.)
Narrative story-telling is one of the more difficult forms of contemporary dance to successfully stage. But, using only basic props, simple black costumes (by Curran & Jayden Hicks) and mood lighting (by Craig Boyes) to explore these potent themes and character traits, the Transit Dance team tick all of the right boxes with ease.
It is never specified if Boyz is set in real time, over the course of an evening, or the five flatmates’ shared life span together. What is impressive about this sixty minute journey, is that there is never a dull moment. Frenetic, pulsing club music (by Trentemoller) and complex movement intertwine non – stop.
As the flat mates, consummate dancers, Charles Ball, Kurt Dwyer – Williams, Lachlan Hall, Samuel Harnett – Welk and Jayden Hicks, share this intense, searing spotlight. Their skilled team work is effortless.
Drawing on choreographic leaders like Graeme Murphy, Twyla Tharp, Michael Bennett, and Mark Morris, Malek allows his dancers to own the space alone or through various group formations.
He also breaks down and smashes traditional gender roles. It’s DNA Magazine meets MTV and Studio 54 head on.
Creating pleasing shapes, they lift each other, swing from iron overhead beams, twist and turn together, sometimes with robot precision, and at other times with fluid sensuality.
Though the hot topics addressed in Boyz may not be for everyone, the Transit Dance Company have constructed a seamless, strong and theatrical dance experience.