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Poolside performance

Susanne Kennedy

Stompin’ Youth, Joyride Stompin’ Youth, Joyride
Mark Webster
Behind a duo of classic tiled pools is a backdrop of rolling hills with trees swaying in the breeze like a receptive audience. In the foreground is a kiddy-sized wading pool with a jade seahorse adorning its bottom. Behind is the diving and lap zone. Together, they echo the show’s theme, moving from small to large pool like the transition that underpins Stompin’ Youth’s latest project Joyride, the shift from child to young adult.

It’s dusk and the heady aroma of chlorine gets the memory working overtime—thongs, Speedos, lawns, Zinc, hanging out with nothing to do but preen, look bored, play up. The Launceston Swimming Centre becomes an ambient lounge with dj bluff’s blend of trance, house, hiphop, and something that suggests Olympic heroics. The mix moves from sensual to industrial, reflecting the show’s themes of adrenaline and the ever-present tension between conformity and individuality.

Young dancers evoke a hangin’ out vibe on the lawn. The group thickens and moves, at first minimally and then in slow unison—one or 2 bursting free.

The ensemble disperses, leaving 3 forlorn, ragged figures conjuring wind-up ballerinas in jewellery boxes; later, concentrated hand movements evoke drumming bears; both strong childhood images. Voiceovers hint at self-expression, being brave. The audience is presented with a montage of kids playing up—smoking, a bit of aggro shoving, building to the thrill of the joyride. Sharp, jerky movements; the bip of radar; the sound of something being singed—the atmosphere is edgy with a tinge of sexuality.

Finally in the water, li-los, flashlights, clean, sensual movement and the wondrous Bjork create a lovely sequence of play, swoon, splash and glide (and of course, the mandatory Esther Williams-inspired domino freefall)—the joys of being part of the group.

Each transition: from twilight to night; the group’s sprawling then shrinking into a tighter ensemble; movement from small to large pool; and edgy soundscape becoming soothing, supports the thematic binary between fitting in and the risks of self-expression.

Joyride is the first stage of a show called S.Y.N.C (Stompin’ Youth Nautical Crew) to be presented as part of the forthcoming Ten Days on the Island festival, training 24 young people from all over Tasmania, many of whom were new to performance. Luke George, Stompin’s co-Artistic Director sees S.Y.N.C. as a stand-alone show as well as the natural continuation of Joyride. The former will be more about clashes between the young and old and will feature more synchronized swimming as the show explores an older, more rigid form articulated in a new and funky way. S.Y.N.C. will tour 8 regional towns in Tasmania throughout the festival.

I leave Joyride appreciating a program that encourages young people to use and delight in their bodies so skillfully, the spirit generated by their work still palpable.

Joyride, Stompin’ Youth, choreographers Luke George, Bec Reid and Stompin’ Company, Launceston Swimming Centre, Dec 21-22 2002; S.Y.N.C. as part of Ten Days on the Island (see p44), March 28-Apr 5

RealTime issue #53 Feb-March 2003 pg. 35

© Susanne Kennedy; for permission to reproduce apply to [email protected]

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