Review / ‘Thoughtful’ production explores new dance

Dance / “Dancing on the Edge”. At Belconnen Arts Centre, April 29-30. Reviewed by SAMARA PURNELL

“DANCING on the Edge” showcased a group of dancers with a connection to Canberra. It was a thoughtful production of six short works.

“Ism”, by Paul Jessoph Base Hickman and Kathleen Lott was a captivating piece, performed wearing minimal, yet powerful and suggestive, almost invisible, flesh-coloured garments and a head covering. Inspired by MONA’s “Monanism” display, the dancers explored the act of doing, and the significance of a word that shapes meaning. “Ism” created beautiful, primordial imagery that also hinted at science, alien life, religion and faith, and conflict and power. Set to a peaceful soundscape, with minimal lighting, some manipulated by the dancers, using torches, “Ism” was beautifully choreographed, designed and performed.

Eliza Sanders based her work “Let Resting Dogs Tell Fibs” around its tongue-in-cheek title. Sanders enjoyed playing with words, alliterations and nonsensical sentences, which likely echo the silly connections we all make sometimes. Set to music reminiscent of the Baroque era and with well controlled movement and balance, Sanders swayed between childlike, mildly maniacal and somewhat distressed. She’s not afraid to be “ugly”, using exhaustive repetition, grotesque facial expressions and awkward contortions. Her piece is abstract, allowing the audience to apply meaning.

“flight/less” is Emma Strapps’ response to the destabilisation occurring across the world. With space-like movement and increasingly expanding gestures, she discovered new movement and new functions for a body part, previously unused, or disconnected. It was readily relatable to factory workers, the displaced, the oppressed and disconnected. A subdued, uneasy ending saw Strapps eventually conform… or fit in.

The audience was asked to select which, of two scores Debora Di Centa would perform her piece “Natural” to. The choreography was the same for both, but giving a choice allowed Di Centa to observe what differences might occur for her, performing to different music and how this could influence the audience’s experience. With a distinctly Asian feel, it’s a happy, uplifting work.

Jazz ballet lived again in “anxious depressed obsessed”. Flight Year incorporated live music, composed by Michelle Forman, who performed along with dancer Amy Forman.

Straightforward but honest and engaging this work exposed the first-hand experiences of the performers. It was well-danced with dramatic dynamics and effective lighting. Rhythmic and frantic handwashing portrayed the crippling and distressing rituals of OCD and the encompassing, ubiquitous nature of anxiety.

The final piece saw Holly Diggle along with Alison Plevey and Olivia Fyfe take the stage. The girls, (performing as the Australian Dance Party) embodied pregnancy, literally, in Diggle’s case.  ADP gave a physical narration to sound bites, often comic, of women relating their own pregnancy experiences – some amusing, some sad, some grieving over various perceived losses. Although humorous and at times poignant, “TWO” needed more depth, particularly choreographically, as it almost fell into mime.

 

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