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By Joanna Gibbs
October 09, 2015

Y Chromosome

Unravelling the idea of masculinity at its very core.
By Joanna Gibbs
October 09, 2015

Tempo’s Y Chromosome was a whirlwind of emotions. With great emphasis on the term ‘masculinity’, this year’s performance focused on celebrating and unravelling the idea of masculinity at its very core.

17 performances made up the piece, each brilliant in their own right. Some were thought provoking and enticing and others were confusing, leaving audience members subtly flicking through the performance synopsis for some attempt at an explanation. Regardless, each dance was executed with undeniable skill. Individual performances were separated and accompanied by short film footage, the content of which was light but enriching with dancer's reflections on the cliché of masculinity and what dance means to them.

The show started with a dimming of the lights, a three-minute flash of orange and a high tempo beat. Eight young men burst, sauntered and leapt across the stage, doing what Judson Laipply aimed to do with his evolution of dance, but with seemingly more class and precision, and in half the time. An abrupt and confused mass of impressions but still coherent and entrancing.

Framed Borders followed, a memorable performance consisting of a large steel cube, which represented aspects of life; carried, shared and balanced between two men as they explored the boundaries of its space. I likewise began frantically exploring my knowledge and understanding of dance.

Blood on the Loch was performed with flare, stamina and strength. Three highland dancers brandishing swords and preparing for battle were bound to get the ladies applauding and marvelling at how these men could pull off knee high socks better than most of them. As the two elderly gentlemen sat behind us put it, “They have such good strong knees. Such nice boys.”

Cue the jokers, whose lightness of foot, facial expressions and wit were a performance in itself. In Just Say Hello, both dancers effortlessly commanded attention and space in a comic performance to Hallelujah I’m a Bum by Harry McClintock, a title which speaks for itself. Dressed head to toe in hand-me-down, raggedy get up, the mask of masculinity was cracked by constant laughter.

The Adonis Complex took me by surprise, as it was not the nudity that was expected. The nudity presented by Eve Gordon and Rochelle showed off their impeccable physical skills. Paired with two hanging ropes the duo rotated and curved their bodies in sync with the powerful articulated words and music by Muscle Prodigy. Captivating the wide-eyed audience and challenging anyone to make fault. Both dancers demanded attention and ended the performance with a split second drop from ceiling to floor hovering just centimetres from the ground. With a 12 pack between them, and strength to marvel even cross-fit enthusiasts, both artists clearly portrayed to the audience that although muscular and masculinity tend to go hand-in-hand, neither the female form nor the male form represent the cultural definition of the term.

Father & Son was one for the heartstrings. Through the subtle and tantalising use of gestures, expressions and movement, Justin Haiu and Eric Ripley mime a touching journey of father and son. A face of fate, laughter and impending realisation are portrayed graciously but tangibly. As the lady next to us whispered in a melancholy tone, “sometimes you just don’t need words.”

My personal, and the clear audience favourite, Uptown Funk, can be described in two words: dad dancers. This performance quavered on the edge of a standing ovation, tipping over that edge with the hoots and wolf whistles from the wives in the audience. Six stylish dads took to the stage with their choreographer, Richi Cesan, donning leather jackets, a few pairs of tight jeans, and a vogue only to be rivalled by Bruno Mars himself. High praise, but I am sure he would agree. Step touches, hip swings, slides and the classic Bobby Brown, the dance was polished and great, emitting an undeniable groove and leaving my companion to declare, “why do the hottest ones have to be too old?”

Y Chromosome is chock full of noteworthy dancers and acts too numerous to name. Despite my somewhat humorous ignorance of dance, the impeccable concentration and skill of all the dancers was evident, and the idea of masculinity presented in all its shades.

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