Dance / “This Poisoned Sea”. QL2 Dance. At The Playhouse until July 29. Reviewed by BILL STEPHENS
WHAT an engaging, thought-provoking and meticulously executed work this was. “In-SYNC” was a collaboration between Liz Lea and Alison Plevey, along with a work by Jack Ziesing for QL2.These performers drew inspiration from psychology, philosophy, genetics and robotics as well as environmental and social issues.
Lea’s opening number was a physical narration of the exchange between Einstein and Tagore, who met in 1930 to discuss the nature of reality. It was lovely to ponder these questions and ideas whilst watching Lea’s informed movements and expressive face. She moved seamlessly into a dance to Bach’s compositions and a statement Tagore had made lingered: “When our universe is in harmony with man, the eternal, we know it as truth, we feel it as beauty.”
Continuing with intriguing historical characters, the ever-flamboyant Lea introduced “46864” with rhythmic, numerical patterns. She used her background in classical Indian dance to draw attention to Ahmed Kathrada’s story, in particular his isolation (whilst imprisoned with Nelson Mandela – 46864 was his prisoner number).
“Adani Carmichael” was brilliantly realised by Plevey, her clever and pared-back choreography effectively conveyed individual and societal greed and destruction, drawing parallels between children’s toy trucks and Lego with the process and large-scale, long-term destruction of coal mining. Plevey also explored an unrelenting drone and what might happen when drone and human interactions become commonplace. Performing indoors meant drone footage was used, but if this dance work were performed outdoors the use of an actual drone would be fascinating to see and likely a reasonable challenge to execute. The ending of this piece was a little abrupt.
Plevey also took a two-sided look at the subject “Ice”, depicting both addiction in a twitchy, itching night out dancing and the melting of the ice-caps, pondering which destruction may be the favourable cause of death.
Beautifully presented, Lea’s second-act pieces required a glance at the program notes to explain that the corset-and-feathers show-girl piece and a reflective film installation based in and around water were an expression of Lea’s personal journey with medical challenges and genetic profiling of DNA.
The costumes throughout were en pointe, in particular the QL2 dancers in “A Hellish Thing”, who looked striking in well-made, cowl-necked uniforms, achieving a sense of timelessness.
Jack Ziesing created a pulsating, sophisticated work. His dynamic, challenging choreography married martial arts and military at a nightclub. Set to a soundtrack composed by Adam Ventoura, “A Hellish Thing”, was executed brilliantly by a very talented troupe of dancers from QL2, showing in all actions, how heavily we tread and culminating in the ironically tender slaying of an albatross – insinuating it dies a multitude of ways – oil spill, capture…
“In-SYNC” highlighted just how out of touch we have been and may become with our natural surrounds and peers at conflicts within, at times accepting the slight discomfort, even beauty of the unresolved. This performance was thoroughly entertaining, even though the gravitas of subject matter left a sombre aftertaste. It’s a pity the show was only on for two days, however, some of these works will be performed and further developed for future productions.