AT what point do possessions become burdens, the next upgrade become the next pressure? When do all our wants and purchases and responsibilities become overwhelming and at what cost is our current consumption level on our planet and purses?
The dancers of QL2 explored these questions in collaboration with choreographers Alison Plevey, Jamie Winbank, Joshua Lowe and QL2 artistic director, Ruth Osborne.
What was uplifting about the production was the obvious energy, enthusiasm and dedication of the dancers and the passion of the choreographers. What was confronting was the depiction the effect of mass media saturation, consumerism and time pressures, real or perceived appears to be having on us. At times the weight of all our “stuff” was literally depicted as baggage, too heavy to carry.
The performance opened with snippets of instantly recognisable advertising jingles and slogans, from cars to face creams and continued at a frantic pace.
The ensemble marvelled over catalogues and magazines, while alarming statistics were given about how much money is spent on “stuff” by children (at this point, sympathy must go out to the parents of eight to 12-year-old girls!) It also appears we will need several more “earths” in the near future, to continue to provide for our drain on resources at current levels.
When this passage of dance gave way to depictions of childish games, there was a sense of sadness and longing for an arguably simpler, less-materialistic time that many of the young dancers may not have experienced first-hand.
Plevey’s “Do This, Do That” explored the daily routines, chores and responsibilities of the group, with robotically repetitive actions. This created an overall hypnotic effect of monotonous chaos, losing some of the focus on the movement itself. Thankfully, the lists of tasks included meals, dance and exercise.
When the relentless, heavy beats providing the soundtrack to Lowe’s piece, “Why You Gotta Move So Fast” kicked in, the synchronicity of the dancers needed to be spot on, for impact. It wasn’t. But the concept, creativity and quality of both choreographer and dancers was. The piece challenged the dancers physically and was thematically confronting, cramming a bunch of ideas and dance in at such a pace the dancers descended into barking and snarling. Unfortunately, the rap performed by two of the cast members was inaudible.
Plevey’s “Material Girl” inspired piece was upbeat, visually well-organised, subtly ironic and kept the serious messages portrayed in a light-hearted manner. The dancers’ expressiveness was impressive throughout the performance and the girls did a lovely job with Plevey’s choreography.
There were very smooth transitions between the pieces and a really entertaining end to the show. Lowe’s “iNeed” had the boys performing as cave-men, hankering after the latest “apple”, as each new, improved version was announced. By the time the fruit gave way to the iMac, they were hooked. The boys worked really well together, including their physical interactions. And in the afterglow of an iRave, in the screenlight of the latest iPhone (presumably msging each other on Facebook), the modern caveman seemed more confused and alone than ever.
In the long-run, no one ended up happier, more connected, productive or relaxed by buying into the latest fad, next fashion trends or newest technology.
The show gave a rather sobering view of the stress we’ve placed on ourselves and the mind-numbing acceptance of marketing. It seems an overwhelming future for, in particular, young children and teens growing up in this environment. But that said, the production of “All The Things” was presented in an uplifting, entertaining and professional production, thoroughly enjoyed by the cast and audience.