Review: Dancing in the clouds

dance “InFlight” Presented by Liz Lea & Co., At the National Library, season closed Reviewed by Bill Stephens

AVIATION may seem an unlikely source of dance inspiration, but with “InFlight” choreographer Liz Lea has created an elegant, inventive, highly original and entertaining dance work.

In the style of a dance-doco, the first act depicts two sisters (dancers Marnie and Melanie Palomares) performing a cute and clever burlesque fan-dance to “Red Red Robin”.

Vintage archival images and sound, clever lighting and excellent period costuming combine to recreate a world fascinated by the exploits of aviators, Amelia Earhart and Charles Kingsford Smith, and the sisters quickly become absorbed into the world of flying machines. A plane is built onstage, which eventually crashes, providing an affecting conclusion with the four dancers moving among the wreckage.

The abstract second act explores the world of birds. The four dancers wear gracefully draped, feathered costumes to execute an intriguing choreographic repertoire of stylised bird movements. Inhabiting a feathery environment designed by Naomi Ota and moving to an atmospheric soundscape, they strut, preen, quarrel and eventually unite in a beautifully realised finale. Miranda Wheen, Alison Plevey, Marnie and Melanie Palomares each shine in individual solos, and dance superbly in the unison passages.

Despite the staging limitations of the library’s lecture theatre, “InFlight” is a beautifully conceived and immaculately detailed dance work that constantly delights the eye, intrigues the mind and excites the imagination.

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