>EXPORT FILE by Chunky Move

>reviewed by ma shaoling

>date: 24 jun 2000
>time: 8pm
>venue: the victoria theatre
>rating: ****

>tired already? go home then
>review junkie? whitney, give them this click to sniff

>look, we know that you need to know that we, as responsible reviewers, have some quantifiable categories to rate productions, and are not just relying on some undefinable instinct or gut feeling. So to put your mind at ease, we will give you a logical rating system based on the practitioner's vision / and the reviewer's response of a particular production. Here it is then: ***** : Transcendent / Rapturous. ****: Crystal / Appreciative. ***: Transmitted / Thoughtful. **:Vague / Unsatisfied. * : Uncommunicated / Mystified. Yet in the end, you will feel that this is (1) a cheap attempt to justify the subjective arbitrariness of our rating system (2) buttressed by an interest in the logical (and inevitable) categorisation of such productions, which is (3) undermined by the cheapness of the attempt, and (4) confused by the creeping feeling you are getting that we are dead serious in our feeling that this rating system is an accurate description of the content, intent and quality of the production. Oh please -- does it even matter now? Look, at least we tried.


Victoria's wildest contemporary dance company sure knows the right moves to move their audiences. EXPORT FILE was a splendid showcase of thematic brilliance and virtuoso dancing. If the word "chunky" is in relation to the clumsy elegance that has been at the forefront of their company, then I may also add "cheeky" to their fame, because everyone who has seen their performance will agree that their moves are far from heavy.

Chunky Move presented two performances - 'All the Better to Eat you With' and 'C.O.R.R.U.P.T.E.D. 2'. Both aptly titled, the choreographer played a delicate balance between aesthetic enjoyment and theatrical challenge. The first dance is a black comic twist to the story of Little Red Riding Hood, retaining the usual characters, but rebuilding the theme with power and abuse. When the curtain raised to reveal a near-naked Little Red Riding Hood, and a male dancer controlling his sexual hunger in a frenzy of moves, we know that we were not invited to the usual tea party. Thus began the delve into appearance and reality, as the man-in-suit became a well-endowed caricatured wolf of the modern man. The dancing grandmothers are a representation of breakaway stereotypes, all ending in tragic trysts with the very wolf that they tried to warn their granddaughter against. As the bubbles glowed in the tanks placed across the stage, the story was given a setting midst urban confusion rather than the traditional pastoral forest. We could also appreciate the movement of the bubbles as innocent curiosity dissolves into callous violence. The childlike voice that spoke wistfully in the background at the beginning and the end of the dance struck us as the subconscious - the inner world before and after a new experience. For this dance, the experience was of emotional and physical abuse; hunger and greed. So who rode little red riding hood? One may wonder. Was she really innocent, in her short red dress? Was she not flirting, when she flitted across the stage trying to undo the doings of the wolf?

>>'Judging from the applause and satisfaction, Chunky Move seemed to resonate with its challenging presentation but not over-the-top abstraction'

The protagonist was especially delightful in playing out her role, mixing waif-like charm with seduction. After the little red riding hood had been seduced, she could not be who she was before. She wanted more, even more than what the wolf could offer, and so she became the violator. In the end, the trauma was downplayed with comic parody; victimisation was twisted with edgy role-reversals. On top of all this, Chunky Move managed to retell this much-loved tale with a new moral, one that was creatively danced and warmly applauded.

In 'C.O.R.R.U.P.T.E.D. 2', Obarzanek took his dancers into a new domain of elegant ugliness. It broke away from the narrative explorations of the first dance as more emphasis was placed on physical manipulations. A large kite-shaped screen revolves at one side of the stage, showing various images that fused with the technological blasts from the dancers. Dressed in plastic see-through pantsuits, the dancers moved every inch of their muscles with clarity and aplomb. Freely engaged in pulls and pushes, their bodies were made to move in seemingly awkward and unnatural ways by imposing various limitations on it. Chunky Move played on the idea of data corruption in a digital age and its relationship to our own moral corruption. Perhaps the explanation for the "2" in the title.

Although strength was placed on ugliness, beauty was ironically prevalent. It was present as and when the dancers used each other's energy to increase the magnitude of their movements; and when the dancers showed professional discipline to be able to perform a solo with individualism and yet an ensemble with synchronism. Many of these visual indulgences achieved their true effect with the brilliant score by Luke Smiles, that was a somersault of vacuum hum, digital noises and industrial-techno music with acid pound.

Swinging the dancers round and round in a virus-hit programming, Chunky Move set Victoria Theatre ablaze with its bold kicks and nifty swerves. Whilst 'All the Better to Eat You With' left spaces for the audience to catch on to its innuendoes, 'C.O.R.R.U.P.T.E.D. 2' allowed no breath with its infectious pounding. The infection dazzled the audience as the technology virus seemed to take on a life of its own. And the night ended with an appropriate evocation for the new millennium.

Judging from the applause and satisfaction, Chunky Move seemed to resonate with its challenging presentation but not over-the-top abstraction. This invaluable moderation left me craving for more than the 85-minute-long performance. Nevertheless, it was more than enough to move me.