Jump First, Ask Later played at the Arts Centre Melbourne between 2-6 August. Caitlin, an Early Harvest writer from the 100 Story Building youth writing initiative, took on the task of reviewing this “choreographic portrait of the streets of Fairfield, Western Sydney — the most culturally diverse region in Australia.” Watch out for it in Sydney in September!
As we slowly settled in to our seats, I noticed that the dancers were already on stage. They were looking very casual and street-like, leaning against objects and stretching. I felt like I was on a construction site watching them casually warm-up and start their training. The lighting gave the impression of an evening feeling and it felt really relaxed.
The lights went dark on the audience and bright on the stage. As everyone settled down I started to hear some music. It was hip-hop music with a strong beat to it, but it was playing quietly in the background. The dancers started doing warm ups – push ups and twists – then they introduced themselves and showed us the first move they learnt. The audience clapped and whooped, and sometimes, when the dancers were concentrating really hard, we’d be quiet.
Then I just felt it – people were really eager and waiting for the next thing to happen. I felt very scared when they were doing the high flips, the flying swing, the walking on the thin pipes and poles on the theatre’s roof! My heart was pumping because I was worried that they would fall and hurt themselves.
There were many moments when I could feel and hear the dancer’s hearts beating strong and fast. I imagined myself as them, having to do all the high, scary jumps and flips, and wondered how they were so brave!
Throughout the whole performance the entire audience was excited and amazed by all the dangerous things the performers were doing. Like the other people around me, my eyes were fixed and glued on the dancers, moving and following every movement, every bit that they brought us, just in case we missed out on something special should we looked away for a second. It was as if they had a magic spell on us!
The dance performance was put together by young artists from the western suburbs of Sydney with many different forms of contemporary dance and parkour. The music they chose helped to tell their story by giving us their emotions at times of fear, anger, helplessness and loneliness.
There was part, when they acted like monkeys chasing and swinging high up in the trees, copying one another. I felt that in this part they were trying to find friendships and connections to the same interest. They helped and supported each other to accomplish their dreams – to be creative and dance, to feel like there’s nothing holding you back.
There was a part where they looked like a circus group – standing on top of each other’s shoulders and doing flips, and jumping over each other. It was the very first time I had seen dancers moving, chasing and jumping fast onto the thin pipes and poles, on the rooftop of a theatre. I felt that they wanted to show us how they work as a team, needing each other’s help and support.
I got the message of how dedicated and persistent they were, putting everything in to what they love doing. The tricks they were doing were very hard, you wouldn’t be able to do that without a lot of training.
Jump First, Ask Later touches on the themes of violence, redemption, hard work and persistence.
Through their dances, jumps, talks and different movements, they showed us their stories, their differences, their challenges and their emotions. Most of all the dancers showed how they handled and managed their problems through persistence and following their hearts so that they could create their own path to success. Together they presented us a fabulous and amazing performance.
Their messages to the audience were powerful, funny and engaging. Each person would say a year, then point to the place where they broke, where they injured themselves. I liked how they wouldn’t give up, their fearless attitude towards all the obstacles and challenges facing them. No matter how hard it was they would always come back after a fall.
Their parents had expectations of them but they still had to follow their hearts and do what they wanted to. It was very difficult because their families wanted them to become lawyers and accountants. Their parents wanted them to have secure jobs. But they still supported their children to do what they wanted – contemporary dance and parkour.
Dance and movement gave them the room to create, to express themselves and to be free from reality at hard times. It enables them to recognise themselves, turning negative thoughts, anger and depression in to energy to move and to let out all their emotions in a creative way.
Jump First, Ask Later is a great performance for all shapes and sizes from tiny gymnastic girls to big tattooed guys. It engages people from the age of 8 up. Whether you are a boy or girl, man or woman, old or young this performance will have something for you. It has a story to tell which will help you make good choices in your life. It has humour for all and inspires courage. This is a performance for all of you!!
Jump First, Ask Later’s 2016 season continues:
Sydney Opera House
Dates: Thursday 22 September – Sunday 2 October 2016
Sydney Opera House Schools Performances
Dates: Tuesday 20 & Wednesday 21 September 2016