Dance review: Double Double

A basketball court provides an unusual dance setting.

Double double toil and trouble… Jo Lloyd and Deanne Butterworth, two of Melbourne’s contemporary dance scene’s big names have come together to create an experimental work, Double Double, remounted this week for Dancehouse season two in the unusual setting of a basketball court.

The work played with expectations from start to finish and was a rolling, mercurial durational piece, a spectacle quite unlike any other. 

The piece begins with a swelling drumroll, coming from two drummers (Tina Havelock Stevens and Evelyn Ida Morris) positioned at opposite ends of the court. They are covered in swathes of light yellow fabric, drum set and all until the drumming reaches a crescendo and the covers are tossed off.

Lloyd and Butterworth begin the performance also at opposite ends of the court, side stepping and toeing along the lines, crossing in the middle but not meeting until at least twenty to thirty minutes into the piece.

Lively kicks and lunges punctuate Butterworth’s phrases, while slumping, almost wilting-like movements ripple through Lloyd’s. There is an accepted chaos to the work that might be described as refreshing, invigorating even, inviting to dance professionals and would-be dancers alike.

A non-dancer friend and I reflected that the impression of the work might be reminiscent of the ‘Praise You’ video by Fat Boy Slim, with the easy, feel good dance moves and the strange nature of the setting.

The effect was a lot more vibrant and sassy however with the bright fluorescent lighting of the basketball court, the acid yellow of the dancer’s gloves and the drummer’s covers and the jazzy moves. The work has an air of ‘dance like nobody’s watching’ which was enjoyable and at times humorous.

When Lloyd and Butterworth do meet, they perform some quirky duets, carrying the other on their backs, crawling, wrapping their legs around the fabric and swimming along the court floor, insectile and amphibian in turns.

Read: Theatre review: Razor Gang Wars

The performance overall was energising and stimulating, but perhaps got lost in the vastness of the basketball court and let’s face it, durational works are not for everyone. I am wondering if a slightly more intimate setting, like a smaller gym room (if they want to keep the athletic vibes) might make for another iteration. I am confident there will be development of this whimsical work to come.

Double Double
Dancehouse, Melbourne

Collingwood College Basketball Stadium
Performers: Jo Lloyd, Deanne Butterworth, Tina Havelock Stevens, Evelyn Ida Morris
Design: Andrew Treloar
Photos: Peter Rosetzky
Producer: Michaela Coventry (Sage Arts)

Tickets: $15-$35

Double Double will be performed until 9 September 2022.

Leila Lois is a dancer and writer of Kurdish and Celtic heritage. Her poetry, essays and reviews have been published in Australia, New Zealand, USA and Canada by Southerly Journal, LA Review of Books, Honey Literary Journal, Right Now, Delving Into Dance and more.