Review / Smooth sailing for one of the best shows

Dance / “This Poisoned Sea”. QL2 Dance. At The Playhouse until July 29. Reviewed by BILL STEPHENS

TAKING inspiration from the epic poem “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”, QL2 Dance has created a compelling new ensemble dance work rich in exquisite imagery and inspiring for the obvious passion and commitment of the young dancers to the central theme of the pollution of our oceans.

If this sounds ponderous, don’t be put off, because “This Poisoned Sea”, which is performed without interval over an absorbing 80 minutes by an ensemble cast of 30 meticulously trained dancers aged between 13 and 19, is a brilliant demonstration of how effective dance can be as a tool for addressing serious contemporary issues.

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QL2’s “Poisoned Sea” . Photo by Lorna Sim

Opportunities to work with large ensembles come rarely to choreographers. Choreographers Claudia Alessi, Eliza Sanders, Jack Ziesing and Ruth Osborne have seized this opportunity to create a strong, cohesive work about sea pollution, by a blending their particular skills so successfully that it is difficult to separate their individual contributions.

Inventive floor work at the beginning, where bodies roll around the stage, with arms flipping up here and there, create powerful images of thrashing surf. A memorable legato passage involving dancers costumed in Cate Clelland’s attractive, rust-coloured, unisex costumes, moving in trios or rolling across the stage trailing rubbish or, later, forming dramatic groupings to conjure up images of icebergs, are just a few of the multitude of memorable moments that stay in the mind.

Impeccable production values, represented by the stunning filmed sequences of coastlines, abstract growing plants, water-soaked dancers and Adam Ventura’s thrilling, evocative soundscape, complement and clarify the message. The obvious passion and commitment of the superbly rehearsed dancers all mark “This Poisoned Sea” as being among the best and most thought-provoking productions that QL2 has yet presented and one that should not be missed by anyone with an interest in either contemporary dance or the problems facing our environment.

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