Author

Jessica Poulter

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It is warm summer’s evening where a former convent stands in the corner of an intricate vintage setting. The floor is wooden and sprung, bordered by sand on golden tissue paper to represent the edge of the seas. A 10-piece orchestra stands arm in arm with their instrument, waiting to begin in anticipation. The dancers and female opera singer Kate Bright enter most dramatically, treading as gentle as the sea breeze. 

Composer Evan Lawson’s ideas and musical direction take this narrative on a physical and emotional journey that incorporates Shakespeare, Phemocles, Alessandra Striggio, and librettos from Orfeo ed Euridice and Calzabigi and L’Orfeo. The classic Greek myth Orpheus is a tale told time and time again, but one element that seems lost in translation is the former affair Orpheus had with his male counterpart, Calais. It is within this ballet opera that Lawson aims to unveil the themes of human sexuality and gender. 

Orpheus and Calais. Photo: Kate Baker.

This four-part production allows the audience to flicker between a dream-like state and an abrupt tempo that shocks the human system. The tension is amplified with many silent moments. The orchestra offers an insightful spirit that helps the audience envision a soundscape of trauma as Orpheus makes his journey to Hades. 

It is clear the three dancers represent the opera singers’ characters of Orpheus (Raymond Khong & Ashley Dougan), Eurydice (Kate Bright & Piaera Lauritz) and Calais (Joseph Ewart & Luke Fryer). The first love interaction is between Orpheus and Calais, where the dancers perform an erotic contemporary pas de deux. Dougan’s choreography is very cemented in the contemporary style, demonstrating an abstract interpretation of the live music. 

Two Eurydices during her death scene. Photo: Kate Baker.

The opera singing is nothing short of exceptional, particularly from female lead Kate Bright. Her moment in the centre of the room is solemn, as she experiences rape, torture and death. Her ability to breath short and sharp with raw emotion is captivating.

Despite the many moments repetitiveness of content, words and movements, it does capture the underlying story—that explores in depth the emotions of loss, heartache and trauma. 

Stage lights dim and a video screens flickers to life. Images of an old-school style computer game appear before the curious, expectant audience.  Drum beats roll through the theatre as international beatbox star Beau Monga loops his iconic rhythm and two energetic break dancers flip onto the stage. Amidst the whistles, claps and cheers, a toddler swamped by his oversized 360 ALLSTARS t-shirt, bounces on the knee of his pregnant mum, proudly calling ‘That’s my daddy.’

Breakdance artist Bboy (Peter) Sette is one of the seven stars cast in this vibrant show. Featuring a BMX Flatlander, Basketball Freestyler, Roue Cyr artist, Sette’s partner-in-crime, Bboy Leerok, and a Beatboxer / Loop musician as MC, these international masters have come together to perform in this entertaining ‘urban street circus’. A long-time dream of Creative Director and Percussionist, Gene Peterson, the show has toured Australia and internationally for the past six years, wowing audiences and inspiring a new generation of performers to do what they love.

Speaking to Peterson and Sette following the first of their Australia-wide ‘hundred shows in a hundred and fourteen days’, Peterson explains:

360 Allstars acrobatics circus
360 ALLSTARS. Photo: Matt Loncar

Essentially, 360 ALLSTARS is a new age hip hop circus. We replace the stereotypical circus art forms with contemporary street forms. Instead of acrobats, we have break dancers, instead of a juggler, we have a basketball freestyler, instead of a unicycle, we added the twist of a BMX flatlander.

Rowan, our Roue Cyr artist stands out. It’s more of a traditional circus art form, but it links us all together and ties us to the circus history. It’s a nice touch… we’re all urban, hip hop, street, then he comes in with a contemporary take on a traditional circus art. It works.

Peterson is living his childhood dream. Since he created the first 360 ALLSTARS in 2013, he has ‘traveled the world playing music and working with cool artists’. This year, the show has three new cast members. While the basic concept remains the same, both Peterson and Sette are enjoying the different dynamic amongst the team.

There is new content from the solos.’ Peterson says, ‘On stage, we collaborate and interact all the time. With three new people comes three new skill sets; we have taken the time to revisit the show and level-up new skills and tricks. While it is not an entirely new production, there is a new energy and lots to come and see.’

The Allstars on tour are a force to be reckoned with. At any time, they are likely to break into an impromptu jam session, enjoying the flow of creativity that constantly zings between the performers. Peterson loves being on the road, regardless of their hectic schedule. 

Inevitably when you spend 24 hours a day together as a group, you become a family by default. It is a really beautiful thing because, over the course of a couple of months, you suddenly have a new family—and we’re all getting to do what we love together.

Sette finds touring ‘awesome’, but challenging, because he has a pregnant wife and young son based in Melbourne. ‘The crew are a really fun bunch of guys to hang out with. But I do miss my family. The longest I am ever away is a month, but they visit me when they can, so it’s not too bad.’ 

For Sette, the difficulties are offset by the unique opportunity to do something he is passionate about.

Bboy Sette. Matt Loncar Photography.

The thing I love about this show is, for once, I am being me, Bboy Sette, breaking, doing my art form. I am being introduced as my name, I’m not playing a character. I’ve done musicals, kids shows, dance shows and, while I do love them, it is nice and refreshing to just do me.

Peterson agrees, ‘I certainly don’t have to drag myself to work. I love playing the drums, that’s my thing, and I get to do this behind world champions, watching all the other cool art forms that I can’t do.’

The show transcends cultures and language barriers. During the past six years, they have enjoyed a ‘plethora of experiences’ as the team have visited 70 countries throughout the world. ‘The beauty is that we are having fun with each other on stage,’ says Peterson, ‘it’s really contagious.’ Sette laughs, ‘It’s got everything— physical performance, cool music that is funky, uplifting and original, plus dance and circus tricks. It is one thing after another…. if you come to this show, you don’t really know what to expect.’

Inspired by a childhood visit to a Cirque du Soleil show, Peterson knew exactly what he wanted to achieve as Creative Director.

Conceptually, the show came together over two years. I wondered how many different types of awesome I could get on one stage. Then I removed all the usual limits to not dream too big. I headhunted the best artists in the world and tracked them down, one by one. The actual rehearsal time took about three weeks because the show was entirely formed in my mind, I just needed the artist to inject their flavour, moves and style to make it happen.’

Peterson’s engaging smile shines, ‘It is so rewarding to look out into the audience and see a thousand people smiling and know you made that. You know, if you give someone a gift, just one person, then that’s rewarding. We get to multiply that by a thousand and it’s just the best feeling. We love what we do, on stage and during workshops, inspiring the next generation, passing those skills on. Sharing what we are passionate about is a wonderful thing.’

For tour dates and locations, see www.onyx-productions.com/360allstars/

CAST/CREATIVEART FORMPROMO PHRASECOUNTRY
Peter SoreBMX FlatlanderTwo-time World Champion BMX FlatlanderHungary
B-Boy LeerokBreakdancerWorld Champion BreakdancerNZ
B-Boy SetteBreakdancerAustralian Breakdance ChampionAustralia
Bavo DelbekeBasketball FreestylerWorld Renowned Basketball FreestylerBelgium
Rowan ThomasRoue Cyr WheelInternationally Acclaimed Roue Cyr ArtistAustralia
Beau MongaMC & BeatboxerNew Zealand’s ‘X Factor’ WinnerNZ
Gene PetersonDirector/PercussionistMulti-Award Winning Master MusicianAustralia
Geoff SquiresLighting DesignerSpectacular Lighting DesignAustralia
Freddy KompAV DesignerStunning AV ProjectionsGermany

Chunky Move  announced a leadership shift that will see Antony Hamilton and Kristy Ayre as  co-CEOs of the Melbourne contemporary dance company in 2019.  

Chunky Move implemented a rigorous global recruitment process, calling for proposals from teams or individuals with the creative vision and professional credentials to lead Victoria’s flagship contemporary dance company into a new chapter.

The search for a new leadership team commenced in September following the departures of Artistic Director Anouk Van Dijk and Executive Director Vanessa Pigrum.

Antony and Kristy will be joined by Freya Waterson who will be responsible for the company’s national and international touring program. 

Minister for the Creative Industries, Martin Foley said, “Chunky Move is an incredible Victorian success story that plays a key role in Victoria, and Australia’s, dance sector and this is an exciting new step for the company. Antony and Kristy have international reputations and will bring a wealth of experience to the role.”

Chunky Move’s Chair, Leigh O’Neill said she is thrilled with the new appointment of leadership. 

“This team draws on deep and internationally-respected experience in the Australian dance sector whilst bringing a confident and energetic vision for the future.”

Chunky Move has announced a leadership change with Antony Hamilton and Kristy Ayre as new co-CEOs of the Melbourne contemporary dance company.  Photo by  Gregory Lorenzutti . 

In addition to the responsibilities of joint CEO, Antony will take up the role of Artistic Director and Kristy, Executive Director. 

“Together, we feel propelled to cultivate the company’s reputation and champion a culture of generosity within the dance sector. We plan to deliver new opportunities for artists, and bring ambitious new performance works to audiences in Melbourne and around the world,” Kristy and Antony said in a joint statement. 

Antony and Kristy will start in February 2019. Freya will start her role in January 2019.

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