Jump First, Ask Later
Produced by Powerhouse Youth Theatre and Force Majeure
Directed by Byron Perry
Jump First, Ask Later is an urban choreographic portrait of the streets of Fairfield, Western Sydney — the most culturally diverse region in Australia. The work tells the collective stories of six young champions of Fairfield’s underground parkour and street style community.
Urban freestyle forms and contemporary dance merge to create a physical narrative that explores violence, migration, redemption and ultimately the collective freedom these artists discovered by mapping their city through dance.
At the heart of parkour is a mindset of creativity. A notion that the obstacles you encounter shouldn’t be avoided but rather deliberately engaged with in order to find your path — jump first, ask questions later.
Sydney Opera House
Dates: Thursday 22 September – Sunday 2 October 2016
Sydney Opera House Schools Performances
Dates: Tuesday 20 & Wednesday 21 September 2016
Director & Choreographer Byron Perry
Lighting Designer Benjamin Cisterne
AV Designer Sean Bacon
Sound Designer Luke Smiles
Performers Joseph Carbone, Justin Kilic, Jimmy James Pham, Johnny Do, Natalie Siri and Patrick Uy
Premiered at Fairfield School of Arts, Powerhouse Youth Theatre, August 2015.
Arts Centre Melbourne, August 2016
This project is supported by Arts NSW, Australia Council for the Arts and the Seaborn, Broughton & Walford Foundation.
Photo: Alex Wisser
Jump First, Ask Later
“This is an amazing work… Take yourselves, your children (of all ages) and be made very, very happy. This is a DON’T MISS."
Kevin Jackson’s Theatre Diary – Read more
JUMP FIRST, ASK LATER
Produced and Presented by Powerhouse Youth Theatre (PYT) and Force Majeure, at the Fairfield School of Arts, 19-29 August, 2015, a World Premiere.
Some Fairfield youth have explored and practised as individuals and, latterly, as an ensemble: The Dauntless Movement Company (DMC), to present a wide range of street physical engagements: B-Boying, Parkour, Free running, Hip-hop dancing, Tricking, a variety of martial arts, calisthenics, and acrobatics. In JUMP FIRST ASK LATER, six individuals, all founding members of DMC: Joseph Carbone, Johnny Do, Patrick Uy, Justin Kilic, Natalie Siri and Jimmy James Pham, all but one “born and bred” in Fairfield (the other from Bankstown), tell us of their background stories and of their entrance into this physical world. They talk of it as part of a street/park activity, that gradually cohered into a mutual 24/7 mind and body pre-occupation that they developed as a kind of ‘tribal’ identification – they did it for fun; it occupied them and kept their minds busy (distracted) in a positive, happy way.
Two years ago the Powerhouse Youth Theatre invited this loose collective into a project that partnered them with one of Australia’s leading dance theatre companies: Force Majeure. Two developmental, artistic residencies, one of two weeks, the other of five weeks, led by Byron Perry, has resulted in this astonishing work. Astonishing, many-fold, but particularly because of its theatrical sophistication and the physical skill and bravado (emotional, as well) artistry of all the participants. It is an entirely recommended experience for all ages. Inspiration plus. Exhilarating.
This group of young people have honed their fearless crafts into a breathtaking kind of artistry, by themselves, over years, and now, in collaboration, with Mr Perry at Fairfield Youth Theatre, have produced a dance work, reminiscent in form, of some of the work of the great DV8 company: TO BE STRAIGHT WITH YOU (2008); CAN WE TALK ABOUT THIS (2011). Says Choreographer Byron Perry in his Director’s Notes:
This work is an onstage documentary about a group of six individuals from Fairfield in Western Sydney, and their shared love of movement. … It is as much a story about urban movement practises and the freeing and the unifying power of movement as it is an exploration of the lives of the people involved. … it is a reminder of how important our connection to place and to each other really are.
The commitment to their street-inspired ‘culture’, the physical movement forms, and the development and disciplines of their skills is evident in the intensity and expertise of their performances. JUMP FIRST ASK LATER, begins with the group introducing to us a round of exercises as a kind of ‘warm-up’, and then, unobtrusively, segues into taking us on a journey into their worlds, both the public art form they are inventing, and the ‘private’ contextual motivations they individually have, to persist with it. Each of the artists get to show their ‘best’ tricks, and each subsume, integrate, their ‘tricks’ and skills into a series of ensemble pieces that are breathtaking to watch.
My favourite was the comic physical construct of a computer game by the ‘gang’, and, here, the subtle but decisive skills of the AV Design of Sean Bacon, combined with the witty and beautifully judged contribution of the Sound Design of Luke Smiles, creates an unforgettable theatrical memory. It may have been, as well, that the floor of the Fairfield School of Arts, bounces and springs back at us, as the artists swing on the pseudo monkey-bar construct at the back of the shallow stage, onto the wooden blocks, to land in full flight in front of us, so that the audience’s seats bounce back in ‘a cause and affect’ conversation with them – a thrilling visceral inter-active buzz in our own bodies that connects us in/to the action, and may create the delusion, as it did, momentarily, often, that I, too, was doing Parkour (I wish), with them.
This is an amazing work. This is not just a good community project outcome. This is a terrific piece and time in the theatre. Get yourself out there to Fairfield. Take yourselves, your children (of all ages) and be made very, very happy.
This is a DON’T MISS.
P.S. The theatre, The Fairfield School of Arts, is just around the corner from the Fairfield Railway Station, and there are terrific Iraqi Restaurants, and others, to eat, or have a coffee and cake at, before the performance. The show is just sixty minutes long. One wished it was longer. But then, of course, I was only watching, not expending my physical energies in these remarkable acts of love in the pursuit of FUN.
“Tumbled, flipped and had us on the edge of our seats.”
The AU Review – Read more
Dance Review: Jump First, Ask Later – Arts Centre, Melbourne
By Kara Bertoncini
Here is a dance show that is so much more than just a dance show. What Jump First, Think Later brings to audiences is a poignant and raw tale of six young parkour and urban dancers who represent Australia’s wonderful multiculturalism. The narrative of this 50-minute show is really heartwarming as Joe Carbone, Johnny Do, Justin Kilic, Jimmy James AKA Jackie Chan, Natalie Siri, and Patrick Uy share with us their personal experiences of how this art form enriches their lives.
Community spirit is a value that these dancers hold close to their hearts as they aim to bring a fresh perspective to this daring form of movement. As they tumbled, flipped and had us on the edge of our us seats, what was really evident was these dancers athleticism and agility. On the surface, it may seem that these young kids are some kind of trouble makers, when really, all they want to do is share their passion for what they do and educate not only kids but parents on the importance of happiness.
Each of these six performers has had their own personal struggles whether it be anger management, cultural adjustment or the reality of that 9-5 job, but what was so beautiful to see come to life was the power of motivation, hard work and camaraderie. The notion of power in all its form was evident through this street styling; power through individuality, dance as empowerment, and the overall power of community spirit. It really is that simple.
Before the show even started we could see a real mixed bag of people; kids, teenagers, mum, dads and a few oldies. What a way to bring together the ideals of a collective freedom. We know this show struck a chord with many of the kids, as we’d hear them say to mum or dad, “Wow that’s cool” or “He’s so strong”. Well mums and dads, if ever there was a time to get your kids involved in something bigger than just dance, than this is it.
Special mention must go to director Byron Perry who really captured the heart of the streets. No doubt this show will be the topic of conversation in many households for weeks to come.
“This crafty little show is a great way to kick off your night and will leave you wanting to hang off a wall on your way home. Get down and see some homegrown poetic magic!”
The Plus Ones – Read more
Jump First, Ask Later at Arts Centre Melbourne
By The Plus Ones
AUGUST 3, 2016
True tales and jazzy tricks are what entertain in this effortlessly compelling show of street dance par excellence. Six kids from the streets of Sydney’s inner west delight with their backstories and creative chutzpah in fresh Aussie parkour in ‘Jump First, Ask Later’. They rock and roll with stories of their lives told on a set which they climb over like monkeys!
A full house relaxed to the riffs, jumps and dazzling group work as this unassuming ‘tribe’ of body artists recounted their life histories, training regimes, ethos, and the practical magic that makes up their parkour ‘way of life’. Ranging across many ethnicities, the show tells of their families, grandparents and parents lives’ involving migration and lives lived close to the poverty line.
The personal stories segue into solo showings which leave you breathless, and they perform ensemble dance routines which ‘speak’ in gesture. Incorporating the irreverent humour and wisecracking common to street performing, one sequence imitates a video game with its robotic moves, and slow motion, and they mirror and imitate each other.
They educate the audience in the ways and means of street choreography, with its flares, swipes, butterfly twists, tricks and improvised partner work which is 100% high art.
Identifying as professionals, the 6 artists show the multi- disciplinary skills required for a full exponent- acrobatics, marital arts, strength and cardio fitness, gymnastics, contact improvisation, and dextrous flexibility. Not to mention the zen-like creativity that is behind all exploration. As a metaphor for life, the dancer’s tell us “you can go in every direction…you use it everyday…you create a movement piece, it tells you who you are”.
Making full use of the spare set with its recycled cardboard boxes as floor, and theatre boxes of various sizes, like Spidermen, they jump onto, slide down and balance on all surfaces. They hover atop the scaffolding, effortlessly exploring the possibilities of height without fear. Embracing risk is a core tenet of the philosophy.
Essential to the group is a camaraderie which is a love for the magic that parkour allows, and which is the highpoint of their discipline – the creativity and play is the “free aspect”, which is “liberating” in the face of the pressures of modern life: “It’s just a way of being”. This is what they share and what makes this show so affecting. It’s an all-over good night out but has a deep element which makes it both moving and artistic.
This crafty little show is a great way to kick off your night and will leave you wanting to hang off a wall on your way home. Get down and see some homegrown poetic magic!
– Sarah W
Photos: Helen Tran