Concrete and Bones Sessions | Branch NebulaPhoto – Ali Kadhim

Somewhere in Sydney, the Festival has taken an urban detour. Not the kind of detour that finds marquees set up for champagne sipping. Not the kind of “urban” that finds a hyper groomed audience charmed by the notion of slumming it – Dulwich Hill. A skate park. Open air. Deep sunk curves of concrete like a grey skull. Rails and railway and metal seats frame the face of it – a place of smooth epic peril.

Here is the clatter and rattle of wheels on asphalt. A local kid, hat backwards, lime green shirt and a well battered razor scooter. Interrogates me with a few bold questions, laughs an approval at me and shoots off with a push and a kick, off with his mates. He’s  not part of the show – but definitely part of the experience.

Branch Nebula’s founding directors Lee Wilson and Mirabelle Wouters, with a body of work which expands over 14 years of practice introduces us to a fresh playground. We hem the horizon of a concrete pit – sensitive to slide of the Sun into a summer sunset. It’s a casual start – almost invisible as the local kids give way to something else. Site-specific, local.

It’s a slow leak into the skate park – performers riding BMX (Michael Steingraber, Danny Campbell), skaters in suit jackets (Kat Williams, Roland Chlouk), wild-haired dancers wearing knee pads (Cloe Fournier, Marnie Palomares, Kathryn Puie), Parkour free runner (Antek Marciniec), B-Boy (Jared Graham aka Leerock) skid and slope and climb and slide – portable speakers create a symphony seemingly based on the doppler effect, a wild pulse… a sinister stir?

The collide and clatter of machine and body – of machine body – of body as machine – moments of lyrical physical extension. The weightless leap of faith in balance, gravity, in persistent heartbeat, in ever darting gaze- eyes that slice through space ready to yield or confront – direct, smooth, suspended, hiccupping rhythmic duets, sweet tangles, momentary entrapments – flitting through space and flirting with danger.

Interconnecting street codes smashing and splashing about – at any moment a vignette is created between dancer and skater or B-Boy or sound – slips into a pocket of concrete and then disappears. Suddenly something happens – a judgement call made – a jump or a skid or a twist or change in direction – a tight rope walk along a chain link fence. Circus for the fearless, the urban. A beautiful portrait of human defiance, of connection, of adrenalin, of focus exquisitely landed.

And before too long – the motion slows – performers disappear after the clatter of clapping echoes across concrete. Then the locals – half, a third a quarter of their age scuff their way into the park – calling out to each other, trundling along the sides of the skate park where something flesh, and fearless clambered sweaty and breathing. Now evaporated into memory.

Branch Nebula
Concrete and Bone Sessions

Venue: Jack Shanahan Reserve (Dulwich Hill Skate Park), Dulwich Hill
Previews: January 9, 10 at 7pm
Dates: January 11 & 12, 14 – 19, 2013
Tickets: $40 – $25
Bookings: Ticketmaster 1300 723 038

Part of the 2013 Sydney Festival

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