Snake Sessions | Branch Nebula
A street style performance made with local participants in a skatepark
Sydney company Branch Nebula brings their breath-taking anarchic street style performance to your local skate park, over a one week residency process. Branch Nebula artists infiltrate the skate park jamming moves and tricks with the locals, building up for a spectacular improvised performance at the end.
About Snake Sessions
With a live drummer driving the action, bodies and wheels collide, race each other, and blur into one.
Branch Nebula and its team of professional skaters, BMX riders, dancers and parkourists have wowed audiences from Sydney Festival to Hong Kong, Finland, Chile and right around Australia.
Snake Sessions brings an audience to a skate park to share an experience of urban culture as a powerfully dramatic and artistic experience. It extends the forms into new and innovative territory, challenging attitudes about performance and art. Youth activities are often associated with anti-social behaviour, but Snake Sessions challenges these perceptions with a production that will leave an indelible imprint on the host community’s cultural landscape.
Residency and Engagement Process
Snake Sessions is a new site specific performance developed in collaboration with locals, over a weeklong residency in a skate park. It’s an organic process based on creating a show through improvisation, and workshops with local skate park users.
The process has developed out of our ten years of practice in creating performance with street style artforms and artists, through works such as Paradise City (Sydney Opera House, Australian & Brazilian touring), Concrete & Bone Sessions (Sydney Festival & Santiago a Mil), and s.l.o.a.p. (Urb Festival Helsinki, Freespace West Kowloon, Hong Kong).
But in Snake Sessions, we wanted to design a process to enable collaboration with local users to create and present a work in a short timeframe, without locking down the skatepark for our exclusive use.
Branch Nebula has trained up its skaters, BMX-rider, dancers and Parkourist in the art of free improvisation.
With Snake Sessions Branch Nebula builds a performance that responds to who is in the space, the elements and challenges of each skate park; enjoying the rapport that can develop through shared physical activity and each individual’s highly specialized skill. The specific training of the street-style artists enables them to perform with acute responsiveness to the site, the local skate park users and the musician. The work is spontaneous, capturing the spirit of what street-styles are all about, anarchic, inter-generational, fun, inspiring and created in the moment.
Snake Sessions allows for participation and potential professional employment for local artists in each new location.
The process involves Branch Nebula (co-creators) and 7 artists (2 skaters, 1 BMX, 1 parkour-ist, 2 dancers and 1 live musician) taking up residence in the skate park for a week. In the mornings we train our improvisational muscle in the new environment and in the afternoons we invite locals to participate in workshops with our professional street-style artists.
Interested participants are also invited to be part of the culminating performance(s) – local street-style skaters and riders learning from and performing alongside professional street-style artists.
Snake Sessions can be created during a one week residency in a suitable skatepark. Presenter to secure access (mostly non-exclusive) and build relationship with skatepark users prior to arrival.
Touring party 10-11.
Main production requirements production & site management, and sound system to suit venue.
Audience capacity depends on park design but capacity of 200-300 should be possible without building large seating structures, in most cases.
Performance duration 30-50 minutes, over the culminating weekend.
“Circus for the fearless, the urban. A beautiful portrait of human defiance, of connection, of adrenalin.” Augusta Supple, Australian Stage
“Concrete and Bone Sessions was a festival highlight, a very special work, exhilaratingly focused on the beauty of collective movement and daredevilry…
“This is site-specificity of the most immediate kind, a visceral connection to a place of play, not its social role or its history, in a display of what is often regarded as fun but here as art without losing the integrity of its popular foundations.
“The outcome is a visual spectacle, impeccably choreographed so that star turns are embedded in and shoot out of the mesmeric poetry of the grand sweeping collective rides and runs that transform the concrete into a magic, enabling vessel.”
Keith Gallasch, RealTime, 2013
(on Concrete & Bone Sessions)
Presenter and Participant feedback
“Snake Sessions allowed for participation, engagement and development for local and regional youth and offered a unique and accessible entry point for people engaging with the performing arts for the very first time. The work was absolutely outstanding and delivers as pure community engagement of the highest quality … and it was our first real outreach project. Keep delivering this strongly impactful work!”
– Guy Boyce, General Manager, Mandurah Performing Arts Centre
“A piece of experimental / contemporary dance using non-dancers and dancers just appearing in a skate park was pretty special… It was a privilege to have witnessed it in three different locations. I learnt a lot about process and making space for engagement to occur on people’s own terms. It was a very liberating experience to witness.”
– Steve Mayhew, Creative Producer, Country Arts SA
“Great artists, great show, great week! The local dancers and skaters who were involved throughout the week thoroughly enjoyed their experience. I heard from many parents that their kids were having a great time learning to move differently and were inspired to try parkour around the house.”
– Louise Bezzina, Artistic Director, Bleach Festival
“You guys should know how much of an impact you had on my boys and the skatepark. Thankyou for an amazing experience, it was awesome! I hope you all keep inspiring kids and give more and more of them a chance to express themselves and be free – The world needs more people like you guys.”
– Parent of Frankie in Whyalla, a young girl who took the week off school to take part (with her mum’s OK!)
“Being involved in Snake Sessions challenged me in lots of ways – but by the end of the week having worked with the crew and then seeing so many people, families – young and old – at our skate park for the show really changed my perceptions and ideas about how we (as skaters) can engage with the community and liven up the space.”
– Participant, John, in Bordertown
Nowra NSW, presented by Bundanon Trust
Dubbo NSW, presented by Artlands Regional Arts Festival
Pinjarra WA, presented by Mandurah PAC
Adelaide SA, presented by Performance & Art Development Agency
Whyalla SA, presented by Country Arts SA
Bordertown SA, presented by Country Arts SA
Warrnambool VIC, presented by The Lighthouse Theatre
Gold Coast QLD, presented by Bleach Festival
Brisbane, presented by APAM
Wagga Wagga, presented by Wagga Wagga City Council
Griffith, presented by Griffith Regional Theatre
Alexandra Headland Skatepark for Horizon Festival, Sunshine Coast, August 27 – 31
Photography by Greg Sketcher and Adam Scarf