Back in 1999, contemporary dance company Chunky Move staged Live Acts, a collection of dance vignettes in Revolver nightclub. It was a blatant move to bring the elitist world of contemporary dance to a mainstream environment.

It hit a mark and set off subsequent seasons of unique performances that, in various ways, democratised dance and made it more accessible to the general public.

20-and-a-bit years and various iterations later, the company, now led by Antony Hamilton, has returned to a similar ethos of taking dance off the traditional stage and directly to a young audience. (The majority of the crowd at Yung Lung would have just been born when Live Acts premiered.)

Installation, rather than dance, may be a more apt way to describe Hamilton’s work. While movement (strongly influenced by hip hop culture and the staccato pulses of popping and locking) is generally a part of his productions, it is only one part of a much bigger art organism. 

Yung Lung is no exception. Performed in the round, atop an oversized, bearded male head (a massive sculptural by Callum Morton), it heaves…and shakes and reverberates with a soundtrack from techno experimentalist (self-described) Chiara Kickdrum

Evoking an amusement park attraction from decades ago or an anthropological model in a natural history museum, the head is volcanic in its machinations – smoke comes out the nose; green lasers pierce the eyes; the cheeks and forehead are craterous and awash with neon lights.

A circular rig of identical screens hangs from above and bombards with images that change every second. It’s beyond content overload – it’s a downright assault and blatantly competes with everything else for viewer attention. Clips of 70s sci-fi, schlock horror, political memes, news grabs come one after the other, occasionally interrupted by static. Music video director Kris Moyes collection of images runs the gamut of grotesque, apcolyptic, kitschy and just plain wacky. 

While Live Acts was bite-sized dances, Yung Lung is 60 minutes of heavily pulsing rave. It's aurally and visually loud. Audiences circumvent the "stage" – the back of the head is a totally different view to the face – and have the option to wander slightly outside into the internal corridor, but the floor thumps everywhere.

Seven dancers, in techno street chic (designed by Perks + Mini), sometimes collectively groove, with jerky arms and quick flicks of heads and juts of knees. Other times they stare, brood, or wrap themselves, parkour-style, around the bright green playground ramps jutting out of their humanoid environment. In the opening, they pose, reaching to the sky, like religious statues.

In our post-COVID, jacked-up, Zoomed-out haze, can we take any more digital content at this stage? It's bursting out of our brains, like the dancers emerging from the bearded head, flying around, insinuating themselves into side crevices and finally crossing through the tunnel (on the floor) in the middle of the skull. 

Strobes, lasers and light sticks build a club vibe and the hanging circular rig screams rock concert. Depending who you are, Yung Lung might be ecstatic, assaulting, deafening, or just boring. It sticks to its concept and doesn’t deviate.

Committed, brilliant, indulgent, style over substance….opinion will be divided. But one thing is for sure, after so many lockdows (and two cancelled premieres for Yung Lung) experiencing live performance again has an especially viseral excitement.

Event details

Chunky Move presents
Yung Lung

Concept, Direction & Choreography Antony Hamilton

Venue: The Substation | 1 Market Street, Newport VIC
Dates: 1 – 12 Feb 2022
Tickets: $50 – $40
Bookings: thesubstation.org.au

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