by Shannon Friday
Kristian Larsen and Joshua Rutter’s choreographed violence is silly and fun, safe within the conventions of the action movie. Fave moments get their shout-out: there's an extended armed stand-off with finger-guns pointed at a shifting enemy, “Now I have a machine gun ho ho ho” reveal, and Hans Gruber falling from the top of Nakatomi Tower. It's bizarrely earnest, and the contrast between the super-serious dancers and, well, Die Hard, is funny.
It's funny, and then... it isn't. Under Brynne Tasker-Poland’s harsh fluorescent sidelights, the dancers re-enact snippets until the actions lose their original meaning. They fall to the ground over and over again, hauling themselves up, only to crash back to the ground. A sleepwalking woman in a nightie lets a gun fall from her limp, unyielding hand. A chorus-line of dying bodies slump their way across the stage. Now we're firmly in the land of Pina Bausch’s Cafe Müller, stillness contrasting with up-tempo frenzy.
This isn't Die Hard's reassuring action hero who can solve problems through sanitised violence that ends in 90 minutes; this is Bausch's obsession with intimacy and violence. This is an overwhelming traumatised urge to revisit violent impulses acted upon the body. In action movies, it might be the bodies of men, as if that somehow excuses the violent repetition. Seeing the women struggle again and again, seeing hands grappling and flailing as cause and effect crumble, is oddly disturbing and queerly moving.
Die Hard Rock Cafe Müller is part of Footnote's annual ChoreoLab season. You can eat it all up at BATS Propeller stage 8.30PM, 26 February to 3 March. Tickets are on the BATS webpage.