Dance / “Jump First, Ask Later”, PYT Fairfield and Force Majeure. At The Q, Queanbeyan, May 17. Reviewed by SAMARA PURNELL.
“JUMP First, Ask Later” tells the story of six young “Parkour” performers from Fairfield, Western Sydney, one of the most culturally diverse areas in Australia, where they met, train and perform their high-risk, hybrid styles of movement and dance.
Joe, Patrick, Ivana, Ale, Tristan and Jimmy James openly discussed their families and their immigrant backgrounds – Croatian, Cambodian and Vietnamese. They demonstrated snippets of their movement repertoires, and touched on some of the challenges and copious injuries they have worked through – ankles, legs, lower back, neck, all of the above!
Parkour, once an underground pastime, has begun to make its way out of the shadows and into young lives with this group now known and on friendly, familiar terms with the local residents, including the police. Parkour and its collective movement and dance disciplines bonds this group together and while much of it is an individual pursuit, the trust and timing it has established is impressive.
The very bendy Ivana has a gymnastic style; Jimmy James a martial arts interest and Patrick, surprisingly, developed an interest in calisthenics. Patrick’s strength and control is rather extraordinary. The group also base a lot of their performance around break dancing.
The performers addressed the audience and each other, accompanying their stories with action and movement. They began with a warm-up that would leave most people exhausted.
The stage was set with various-sized boxes, used to sit, straddle, jump, launch off and balance on. In a nice touch, they were also used for projected images of the performers’ families.
“Jump First, Ask Later” was raw and accessible in its telling and enjoyable and humorous in its delivery. The banter between cast members was funny, often self-deprecating, honest but light-hearted.
The apparent ease with which many of the tricks were executed is deceptive. Aerials and flips from almost standing starts downplay the training, focus, courage and strength it takes to execute them. Gasps were heard around the auditorium as the performers jumped and balanced from one bar to the next on the metal frame set, resembling scaffolding. A seamlessly performed corkscrew, or split, was made to look as easy as taking a step.
A “stealthy” sequence effectively created an underground mood, enhanced by the aptly chosen music. Despite being a free form of movement, integral to it is the environment and specific location.
The males performed an entertaining sequence in the style of the computer games “Mortal Combat” or “Tekken.” Children of the ’80s and ’90s would appreciated the accuracy and humour in this, however a glance around the full theatre suggested that half the audience was younger than that and half significantly older. But that was testimony to the wide appeal of the show.
No matter how these six youths found their way to Parkour, it is now the main focus in their lives and they credit this outlet as their saving grace: Ale recounts the regular fights he would get into before channelling his energy and emotions into dance and acrobatics, in a testimony to the cathartic benefits of a creative, physical expression of emotion and frustration.
Artistic director Karen Therese sums up “Jump First, Ask Later” as an example of the freeing and unifying power of movement.
With a chuckle, the crew inform us that they are avail for corporate events and weddings.