Review / A ‘memorable’ evening of dance

dance / “On Course”, directed by Ruth Osborne, QL2 Theatre, Gorman Arts Centre. December 15-16. Reviewed by BILL STEPHENS.

“10 Point”. Photo by Lorna Sim.

IF there were no other reason to attend “On Course 2018” then the final thrilling work, “10 Point”, choreographed by New Zealand-born Samoan, Xavier Breed, alone would have made for a memorable evening of dance.

Breed is one of 10 young choreographers from the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts, the Victorian College of the Arts, the New Zealand School of Dance and the University of Auckland currently in Canberra to create and perform the ten works which made up this year’s “On Course” program.

Now in its twelfth year, “On Course”, the brainchild of QL2’s artistic director, Ruth Osborne, is an initiative which grew out of QL2’s “Hot to Trot” program as a way of bringing home QL2 Alumni during their full-time study to reconnect with local audiences and provide those audiences with the opportunity to see where those young dance artists are heading. 

Over the years the project has expanded and now welcomes students from across Australia and New Zealand.

Choreographers are provided with access to dancers and studio space for six three-hour sessions, over two weeks, in which they will create an original eight-minute work. Audiences are invited to participate in forums immediately after the performances to comment on and discuss the works, so that the choreographers get immediate feed-back on their works.

Xavier Breed, currently in the final months of a Masters of Dance Studies at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, thrilled the audience with a stunning work incorporating an imaginative fusion of traditional Samoan and contemporary dance styles. Working to a driving soundtrack, Breed’s choreography included body slapping sounds, grunts, carefully detailed hand and arm movements and an exuberant movement repertoire, which his seven dancers attacked with obvious relish and attention to detail to achieve a highly polished and exciting result.

“Crystalline Echoes” by Ryan Stone. Photo by Lorna Sim.

Exciting as it was, “10 Point” was not the only high point. Ryan Stone, currently in his final year at WAAPA, contributed an intensely personal and stunningly executed solo entitled “Crystalline Echoes” which he performed in the light of a single naked light bulb, manipulated to create shadows and patterns on his bare torso.

Alexandra Dobson from VCA worked with six white costumed dancers to create a mesmerising work entitled “Recurrence”. It commenced with the dancers in a tight circle performing intricate hand movements, which expanded into partnered sections as the circle grew larger. Mia Tuco, who is undertaking the acting course at VCA, dressed her five dancers in bright dressing gowns for the first part of her imaginative and romantic “Informal – Get Down”.

Caspar Lischner, a former QL2 dancer currently studying at the New Zealand School of Dance in Wellington contributed a short film, “Storge Shoes”, likening comfortable shoes to best friends. He also collaborated, via Skype, with Amelia Vanzwel from VCA, on a delightfully quirky duet, entitled “The International Animal Language”. 

Gabriel Sinclair created “Under New Management”, a clever introspective work in which his three dancers mirror-imaged each other to Sinclair’s own original composition featuring a single persistent piano note. Self-examination was also the theme of Alison Tong’s light-hearted creation, “U R Being Controlled” in which three dancers in multi-coloured tunics depicted reactions to advertisements and spin to the music of Phillip Glass. Both Sinclair and Tong are studying at VCA.

Marcel Cole, a Canberra-raised classical ballet dancer now studying at the New Zealand School of Dance, contributed a light-hearted work for four dancers exploring notions of connection and inclusiveness. Similar ideas were also explored by Otto Kosok, who’s also studying at the New Zealand School of dance, in his arresting work for six dancers entitled, “Strange Tall Creatures”. 

Even though each work was supported by excellent lighting and audio visual design and efficient stage management, the responsibility for achieving the end result rested with the choreographers and their dancers, making the polished works even more impressive, especially since most of the choreographers chose to add to their experience by appearing in each other’s works alongside senior Quantum Leap ensemble members, several of whom are heading off to universities around Australia next year.

 

 

 

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