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Ruth Letch

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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.’

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vAmg3pIrjgo

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

CAST/CREATIVE ART FORM PROMO PHRASE COUNTRY
Peter Sore BMX Flatlander Two-time World Champion BMX Flatlander Hungary
B-Boy Leerok Breakdancer World Champion Breakdancer NZ
B-Boy Sette Breakdancer Australian Breakdance Champion Australia
Bavo Delbeke Basketball Freestyler World Renowned Basketball Freestyler Belgium
Rowan Thomas Roue Cyr Wheel Internationally Acclaimed Roue Cyr Artist Australia
Beau Monga MC & Beatboxer New Zealand’s ‘X Factor’ Winner NZ
Gene Peterson Director/Percussionist Multi-Award Winning Master Musician Australia
Geoff Squires Lighting Designer Spectacular Lighting Design Australia
Freddy Komp AV Designer Stunning AV Projections Germany

Girls Girls Girls is immediately engaging, confronting and entertaining. Unsure what to expect on entering the theatre, the audience is instantly drawn to experience the dark side of what it means to be female in modern-day Australia.

Participation in Girls Girls Girls is paramount; from the get-go, the audience is thrust into this darkly satirical examination of female expectations and insecurities. Guided by the vivacious Mistress of Ceremonies instructing everyone to ‘dress’ the mannequin-like dancers posed throughout the theatre, Curtis creates a powerful and evocative setting for the rest of the performance.

Sensuality, control, anger, love, self-hatred, desire and femininity are all explored throughout this work.

The music is diverse and contradictory, including easily recognisable works from Vivaldi, Edith Piaf and Benny Benassi. Curtis’ choreography was equally eclectic. The dancers mock convention as they challenge the stereotypes of perfection and social media falsity through complex choreography interspersed with spoken word and dramatic elements. Their ability to effortlessly swap between classical and contemporary styles of dance, from knee-high socks to sky-high heels, is indicative of their professionalism and commitment to the roles they play.

girls-girls-girls
Girls Girls Girls – Photo supplied by Bonnie Curtis Projects.

Curtis takes the audience on a journey of self-exploration while examining women’s relationships, both with each other and themselves, within the constraints of modern society. Moments of manic, frantic disturbing emotion are juxtaposed with hilarious theatrics in this unconventional and moving performance.

The Victorian premiere of this award-winning show by Sydney-based Bonnie Curtis Projects faced a tough draw card on a long-weekend, school holiday, AFL Grand Final afternoon in Melbourne. However, the matinee performance was a fascinatingly intimate setting. Challenging, and sometimes uncomfortable, there was nowhere to escape from the reality of the themes explored.

Girls Girls Girls is a clever consciousness-raising performance which entertains and challenges the audience from start to finish. A powerful examination of the experiences of women in modern society, this interactive experience is well-worth sharing.

Following sold-out seasons in NSW and Queensland, the Melbourne Fringe season of Girls Girls Girls concludes with performances on Sunday 30th September at 3.00pm and 7.30pm at The Space Dance & Arts Centre, 318 Chapel St, Prahran, 3181. *$10 discount tickets are available.

Created by Bonnie Curtis in collaboration with her cast

www.bonniecurtisprojects.com

This outstanding performance captures the attention of the audience from the moment you enter the theatre. Dancers dressed in black are displayed in a simple, incredibly intimate setting, creating immediate intrigue and wonder. Time passes in the blink of an eye as the audience is swept up in the emotion and fascination of Lake’s intricate choreography.

Colossus by Stephanie Lake Company. Photo by Mark Gambino

Opening last night to a packed house, the power of Colossus comes from the dancers’ ability to portray Lake’s vision of ‘the push and pull of humanity’. Her evocative display takes the audience on a journey of birth and growth as the dancers navigate the evolution of their collective group while desperately trying to maintain their unique individuality.

Colossus by Stephanie Lake Company. Photo by Mark Gambino

Isolated movements of fingers, feet and twitching muscles are cleverly juxtaposed with long lines and powerful movements as the dancers flow across the circular stage. Quiet moments of contracted vulnerability are challenged by the rise and fall of individual control, and the embracing expansion of the group working as a whole. Often displaying a tribal-like synchronicity, the dancers unite in their expression and energy of ‘you’, ‘me’ and ‘us’ throughout the entire performance.

Colossus by Stephanie Lake Company. Photo by Mark Gambino

Lake’s vision cleverly incorporates the use of sound. The dancers use their bodies and voices to emulate the resonance of the universe. Controlled breathing, sighs, shouts, slaps of hands, and the brushing of feet on the floor combine with the music to create a powerful, additional expression of the fight to remain unique while existing in a mass society.

Visually, the simple backdrop and white floor add a further dimension to this intricate performance. Shadows shift on the wall of fabric cocooning the group. During moments of frenetic energy, the wind of their bodies creates ripples on the cloth, and flows out to be felt by the audience. The shapes of the dancers’ bodies are echoed in their surroundings. Arms and fingers create a vine-like field of living intensity which rises and falls in a raw expression of the human need to belong.

Colossus by Stephanie Lake Company. Photo by Mark Gambino

Lake’s complex choreography combines with the incredible teamwork shown by this group of emerging young dancers to create this evocative contemporary work of art. Their passion and commitment is unquestionable, their obvious joy and pride apparent during last night’s standing ovation. A must-see performance, Colossus is a challenging and beautiful expression of humanity.

Arts Centre Melbourne in association with Melbourne Fringe presents Colossus by Stephanie Lake Company. 26-30 September 2018

www.stephanielake.com.au

www.artscentremelbourne.com.au

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