Review / Joy and honesty in dance performance

dance “Other Moments,” presented by QL2, At The National Portrait Gallery, September 17-18, Reviewed by Samara Purnell

A PHOTOGRAPH captures one moment. But what has happened before, and what might happen after it?


“Other Moments” fluidly explores scenarios and suggests moments and movement that may have played out during the capture of a photograph. Inspired by the “Tough and Tender” exhibition, currently at the Portrait Gallery, Dean Cross, Eliza Sanders and Gabriel Comerford take turns in briefly explaining their choice of an image.

Nan Goldin’s “Brian and Nan in bed” was one of those chosen, with “Beno”, by Warwick Baker, another. The exhibition explores moments of intimate vulnerability and various forms of identity, with a focus on gender, impending adulthood and juxtaposes ideas of masculinity.

The dance trio executed lifts and manipulated each others’ positions, suggesting the manipulation of photographs and the interpretation each viewer will bring to an artwork. Each dancer embodied a unique presence and energy, very relatable to the subjects in the exhibition and looked as though they would fit seamlessly into a “Tough and Tender” image. Comerford has a strong, muscular body but kept a softness and delicacy in much of his movement, exuding a fluid sexuality.

A couple of times, spontaneous smiles between the dancers, or even to themselves, added a real feeling of joy and honesty to the performance. Sanders’ solo was captivating and believable, and expressively danced.

A bag of clothes containing everything from a Latino skirt to overalls was riffled through and tried on by the dancers, playing with gender stereotypes and identity and image.

Rain poured down outside and mist rose from the garden, behind the dancers, beautifully and aptly adding to the setting.

The dance was competently performed and tenderly interpreted, the trio dancing with maturity and working well together.

Despite only being a short performance, this free event was thoroughly enjoyable and a creative way of bringing dialogue to the “Tough and Tender” exhibition and bringing various art forms together.

The National Portrait Gallery will host another dance event in October, “Dances for David”, inspired by the work of Australian Ballet director David McAllister.


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