Dance like a Butterfly Dream Boy
22/02/2012 - 23/02/2012
A belligerent confused rite of passage, deep in the heart of homo-social neurosis. A group of men lost in the fever dreams of a restlessly mutating society. Luckily, one of them knows the way… or at least he used to. Whether it takes esoteric gymnastics or group hypnosis, they are determined to fight their way to… well, somewhere. Performance artist Josh Rutter gleefully steals from prepubescent vlogs, protein supplement package design, and Hungarian backyard wrestling to create Dance like a Butterfly Dream Boy.
“Male identity explored through game, ritual and pedagogy leads to excellent entertainment and a strong dance work.” – Theatreview.co.nz
Josh Rutter is a freelance dancer and choreographer based in Auckland. Since graduating from Unitec’s Dance Program, Josh has danced for Michael Parmenter, Hans Van Den Broeck, Malia Johnston, Maria Dabrowska, The Playground, Alyx Duncan, and Alexa Wilson; has completed projects with Stephen Bain and Winning Productions, and performed in festivals both locally and internationally.
He has created collaborative works with Cat Ruka – “New Treaty Militia” (Berlin, NY, Dunedin, Wellington), Tokyo-based artist Yuki Maruyama (Auckland), and Dave Hall – “Release Candidate” (Christchurch, Auckland). Josh also writes and performs music, most currently as one half of ‘Sweat City Heat Wave’.
“Since I’ve been boxing I think I have become more aggressive, confident and classically masculine. I find myself sizing people up, which is kind of tiresome but maybe unavoidable given that I’m learning to read the violent body. The violent body: it’s everywhere; the threat of violence is a real force socially.” Josh Rutter
9pm Wednesday 22 – Thursday 23 February
Review by James Wenley 23rd Feb 2012
The roof of the Aotea Centre has to be one of the coolest plays in Auckland to do a show. Overlooked by the large old Council building, imbued with the colour of street lights, and soundtracked with street noise, sirens and the odd sound of a seagull, it has the type of atmosphere that you just can’t replicate.
Dance like a Butterfly Dream Boy is a pretty cool show to be performed up there too. Don’t let the reference to the butterfly fool you – this isn’t some tender beautiful thing – but a full on, testosterone filled, macho show where a cast of mad men push their bodies to the extremes and battle to be the alpha male.
Testosterone heavy? Yes. Indulgent? Yes. Sick? Sometimes. Fun? Absolutey! [More]
Copyright © in the review belongs to the reviewer
Re-adjust, but keep on skipping
Review by Jesse Quaid 23rd Feb 2012
Re-adjust, but keep on skipping.
One of the most entertaining and powerful shows I have seen for a while, Josh Rutter’s masterful re-contextualising of masculine habits, Dance like a Butterfly Dream Boy, both provokes and stuns. Over the course of 60 minutes, the space overflows with a confused and truculent search for a direction, generously performed by a diverse cast of 13 men. Charting its way haphazardly forward, echoing the erratic progressions plotted for its performers, Dance like a Butterfly Dream Boy delves into masculinity in its most primal and most socially constructed states.
The rooftop terrace provides a fitting arena. The uncompromisingly hard flagged surface is bounded by the reflections of the gathering crowd that are thrown back from glass balustrades. A strange assortment of items are carefully placed and waiting, three black rubbish bags, a giant blue tarpaulin covered shape about the size of a phone booth, and three displays of hair products. The ‘stage’ is washed by plain white light and enclosed by the still threatening clouds and soft breeze. The space created feels strangely empty, a space waiting to be filled.
Three moustached men file in. Lined up across the back of the space they wait.
Holding the audience in a state of anticipation.
An electronic snarl breaks the silence.
What follows is an experience rather like jumping down a testosterone fuelled rabbit-hole. The slightly ironic belligerence implied by the title threads through the piece as recognisable and familiar traits are thrown up, emphasised and distorted by their placement – amusingly in many cases, although I notice the majority of those laughing are women. As the piece unfolds, the sheer amount of stimuli becomes overwhelming: taking in everything is an exercise in futility.
In obedience to the sound of beeps and buzzers, the three men embark on a series of ritualistic tasks. They track across the stage, fighting their way to the left, ebbing back to the right, always returning to the central line. Synchronisations, patterns, movements are carried out prosaically and with a slightly clumsy carefulness. The trio seem almost to be marking time as they perform modes of conventional masculinity.
As the energy of the space builds, the sound track of sparse electronic growls becomes intelligible as a male voice, although it remains at the edge of my attention. “This is it” I hear before the voice changes. The men spray themselves with glitter from the same can, passed down the line. Now they all stand out. Equally.
The space dissolves into ordered chaos as the rest of the cast enter. Enormous tires are rolled in and played like drums by two sledgehammer wielding men, the beat creating an anchor and a driving pulse to the scene. The centre is held by a pair taped wrist-to-wrist. Governed by a whistle-blowing ‘ref’, they are locked in a struggle that slowly wraps them in a tangle of clear tape. Two men scream at each other from the edges of the space before charging and beginning a slap game. A self-involved boxer with mumbled movements, two shaving-cream-white-faced silent screamers feinting around each other, a pair of fighters throwing punches and repeating words that I eventually perceive must be a phrase, and a solemn pacer, add to the overwhelming activity.
If the first state feels like limbo this feels like a descent into purgatory. The initial trio held some sense of awareness; the performers now appear to be locked unknowingly into their own relentlessly repetitive actions.
A blast of the whistle presages the next mutation. Strobe lights flash as the group gather before their new leader. Pulsing in time, their behaviour is strangely reminiscent of a beach rave. They are exhorted and directed, echoing the tracking of the first three men, they travel across the stage in a series of huddles, then break and re-gather in a line at the back. They seem content to be directed, comfortable with the role of individuals with a shared direction. The strobe stops, the sound ceases and they lie prone, intent faces turned to the audience.
As they begin a torturous crawl forward, the object of their focus is laid out, their erstwhile leader placing bottles of beer across the front. It seems to be an effective incentive. They remind me of men in old movies, stranded in the desert, crawling towards an oasis. Reaching it does not seem to make them happy though. They stand, zombie-like, and each downs the whole bottle before walking out with a sense of accomplishment rather than satisfaction. As the space empties they leave behind the curiously masculine aroma of beer, BO and Lynx.
Re-emerging for what feels almost like a coda, they bring with them an intriguing bundle. Working quietly they spread out and inflate a clear plastic tunnel and globe, filling it with haze before crawling inside. As they congregate in the globe, a hum begins. It builds into a wordless exultation, rising and falling as the group feed off each other. Lit by slowly cycling colours which silhouette the blurred shapes of the performers, this is a very primal display, the tribe as one. This devolution seems to complete their journey, bringing their plastic capsule down with them they sink into a restful huddle.
Adeptly constructed and referencing many popular male ideals, from sports to body-image, this work presents a strong and entertaining look at the struggle to find a male identity. Although I feel I missed many of its subtleties, despite the disadvantage of my gender I was left with a clear sense of ‘getting it’.
Copyright © in the review belongs to the reviewer