Review / Two Zero’s surprisingly emotional finale

dance / “Two Zero”, Canberra Theatre Centre, until August 11. Reviewed by SAMARA PURNELL

From the ‘Two Zero’ dress rehearsal

“TWO Zero” is a celebratory retrospective of the 20 years since the formation of the company, but it also looks toward the next 20.

Former Quantum Leap/QL2 dancers, many of whom have gone on to have professional careers as dancers, choreographers and performers, have collaborated with director Ruth Osborne and current students to reimagine previous works, whilst creating new ones.

“Two Zero” opened with a short film of the 2013 Quantum Leap ensemble, when it was originally created. Dancers swirl and disrupt the dry grass and dirt, immediately bringing to mind the current drought, a perfect introduction to the timeless re-imaginings possible with these works.

This was Daniel Riley’s work, reworked by Dean Cross, exploring indigenous and non-indigenous relationships with each other. The transition between film and live dance was powerfully done as figures slowly became visible on stage taking the place of the dancers on screen. The synchronicity between the dancers was not quite there but the standard of dancing was impressive across the ensemble and each dancer executed the choreography with dedication and conviction.

There was a noticeable reduction in the number of boys performing this year, but again Osbourne and the choreographers have subtly highlighted the males’ skills and talent. Angus Onley performed his acrobatic manoeuvres gracefully and cleanly, and Lillian Cook was a stand-out in her routines.

Continuity was maintained throughout the eight segments of the production by way of costumes and video installations of constellations and rain. The costumes, attention to detail such as hair-styles and the uniformity of the dancers raised the overall professionalism and slickness of the production.

The dialogue spoken in the second act was perfectly timed and the piece explored the life of a dancer, from being told to lie on the floor in a first class, to travelling overseas with a troupe.

The choreography of “Landscape” and “The living sky” originally by Warwich Lynch and Fiona Malone, was beautifully re-imagined by Alison Plevey, the result was a flowing, graceful work, danced confidently, with the addition of small lights held by the dancers, mirrored on film for a rich visual effect. A Middle Eastern nuance added a feeling of universality.

Steve Gow’s uplifting piece, “Empower” was happy and joyous. With the dancers in matching costumes, some of the words that appeared on screen behind them seemed tokenistic, such as “diversity”, but when the word “joy” emerged on screen it was the perfect fit.

The choreographers have all managed to fit a large number of dancers on stage without looking cramped. “Nexus” saw the dancers smoothly transition between shapes and ideas, making slick work of the choreography, which risked looking messy had it not been so well performed.

The voice-over before “Identify” spoke of the currency of the piece on immigration. Whilst the original performance is still memorable, the reworking missed the opportunity to overtly bring topical issues from 2018 into the piece.

Eliza Sander’s “Bigger” hit its straps when the girls let their hair out and danced freely, the pieces of perspex they held to begin with perhaps not having the desired impact from the distance of the audience. Sander’s clearly stamped her style across the theme, soundtrack and choreography. She explained via an introductory piece how supported she had felt by the other females around her during her time in the company.

The Quantum Leap and QL2 alumni appearing from the back of the theatre to rush the stage and join in the finale was surprisingly emotional.

Osborne has spent 20 years developing young dancers and giving them insight, via travel, collaborations and hard work, into a career in performing arts. Here’s looking forward to the next 20.

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