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Review: [gameboy] at New Benner Theatre

Review by Sarah Skubala

 

Dance24 is Queensland’s newest dance festival, featuring the world premiere of [gameboy], directed and choreographed by Amy Zhang and presented by Metro Arts and Mad Dance House. [gameboy] is a contemporary piece of dance theatre that explores our online choices versus the ones we make in real life.

 

[gameboy] dancers William (Billy) Keohavong and Ko Yamada were simply outstanding. Their synchronicity and neutral body were excellent as they performed a fusion of genres best described as street dance and contemporary dance. They maintained neutral expressions, other than when they wanted to, which was a testament to their discipline. This was an extra challenge on opening night with a very enthusiastic crowd of friends in the audience.

 

Inspired by Japanese game shows, video games and internet culture, much of the piece centred around Nintendo Wii avatars moving with precision to the Mii Channel music. Keohavong and Yamada managed to stay in perfect sync for almost the whole piece, displaying grace and control between movements. One notable highlight was a sequence where they sat in chairs, frozen, like gaming zombies, as they mimed playing video games. Slowly their body positions morphed into contorted shapes. It takes so much grounding and control to hold the positions without shaking, and they succeeded, their mastery evident.

 

The ‘human spider’ was a standout moment where Keohavong and Yamada became something reminiscent of The Thing. The images they created with their entwined bodies during this sequence were compelling and dramatic.

 

[gameboy] explored themes of competition and endurance and there were moments where the performance made me uncomfortable and forced me to sit with these feelings. This was particularly true during the apple competition sequence with the wasabi toothpaste, and the sequence with the bare feet over the Lego pieces. There was plenty of laughter from the audience as we all wondered what would happen next.

 

The score by Jackson Garcia worked well to aid the storytelling and I wonder whether it was a stylistic choice to have the music so loud that I could feel the bass through my whole body. The lighting by Teegan Kranenburg was dramatic and used a combination of primary colour washes and bright white washes, with the occasional complete blackout.

 

It was a nice touch for the 45-minute piece to end on a bright note, featuring a high-energy, synchronised dance set against a candy pink, bubbly lighting wash.

 

Zhang and the team are to be commended for creating a challenging and unique new work that will appeal to fans of movement, modern art and contemporary dance. The season is super short and ends 1st June, with a post-show artist talk after the show on Friday 31st May. 

Image Supplied

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