The ongoing battle between movie monsters Alien and Predator has thrown up an unlikely winner: choreographer Larissa McGowan.
She doesn't have acid for blood. She doesn't sport active camouflage or hail from a distant galaxy (though that depends on your feelings about Adelaide). What she does have is a killer instinct for what mash-up culture can bring to the world of contemporary dance.
McGowan's 15-minute work Fanatic is an homage to two of sci-fi's enduring big-screen series and to the legions of rabid fans who obsess over Hollywood's war of the franchises, which began with Alien vs Predator in 2004. It was one of the hits of last year's Spring Dance festival at the Sydney Opera House and now it returns as part of Sydney Dance Company's upcoming triple bill De Novo, alongside artistic director Rafael Bonachela's Emergence (featuring singer-songwriter Sarah Blasko) and Swede Alexander Ekman's humorous Cacti.
McGowan ("a big Sigourney Weaver fan," she confesses) says the idea for Fanatic developed over several years, starting with a solo project called Theatrical Trailer for Alien 5, co-created with theatre director Sam Haren for Australian Dance Theatre in 2007. McGowan danced the frenetic piece herself, based on Weaver's Alien character Ellen Ripley.
"Honestly, the Alien movies are the best ever," McGowan says. "It's just so good to see a woman as the hero in such an iconic and action-packed movie, when generally, it's always the guy who's the main character. I loved the gender play on what an action figure really is."
From that piece came the idea for Fanatic, which was developed from repeated viewing of the film series and research into the legions of fan tributes, unauthorised re-edits, fantasy trailers, and associated online comment streams.
"I worked very closely with Steve Mayhew, who did the sound for the piece - which is all soundbites and parts of the score from the movies - and he suggested we look at it from a fan's point of view and look at how they are taking control of these movie characters and making them their own," McGowan says.
The three dancers move and mime to Mayhew's intricately edited soundtrack of music, sound effects, character quotes (including Weaver's famous "Get away from her, you bitch!") and fans' comments. One of Fanatic's voices is that of a disappointed moviegoer who rates Aliens vs Predator: Requiem as "one of the worst film sequels I have ever seen in my life".
It is a very complex piece for Sydney Dance Company dancers Natalie Allen, Chris Aubrey and Thomas Bradley (and others in a rotating cast), McGowan says.
"They dance their arses off," she laughs. "They are doing character-based stuff on top of abstract movement that is really fast and ferocious, as well as miming and being totally in tune with the soundtrack. It's only 15 minutes but it's jam-packed."
Fanatic's unashamed embrace of pop culture results in a dance work that is unusually accessible, McGowan says.
"What I find so exciting about this work is that even though there is abstract contemporary movement , any viewer can understand it because they know the subject matter."
There is even a non-dancing cameo role for an audience member who can demonstrate creative flair and the bottle to stand up and deliver a line. Interested parties are asked to submit a 30-second video clip explaining why they would make "a perfect Alien or Predator" or act out a scene from either film franchise. The competition closes on Monday. Details are at: sydneydancecompany.com/win-a-role-in-fanatic.
Fanatic is performed as part of the Sydney Dance Company's triple bill De Novo, alongside artistic director Rafael Bonachela's Emergence (a collaboration with singer-songwriter Sarah Blasko) and Swede Alexander Ekman's humorous Cacti.
March 1-23, 8pm (Tuesday, March 5, 6.30pm; Saturday, March 23, 4pm and 8pm), Sydney Theatre, Hickson Road, Walsh Bay.
TICKETS 9250 1999, $30-$75.
TRAVEL A 20-minute walk from trains, ferries and buses at Circular Quay, limited street parking, taxis to the door.
SHOW In Fanatic, a trio of dancers interprets the fan fiction spawned by the 2004 film Alien vs Predator.
DANCERS Natalie Allen, Chris Aubrey and Thomas Bradley.
CHOREOGRAPHER Larissa McGowan.