Dance / “Dance on the edge”, Ausdance Dance Week, Belconnen Arts Centre, May 4-5. Reviewed by HELEN MUSA.
ANYBODY nurturing the idea that contemporary dance is an abstract, incomprehensible art form would have had such idea confounded by “Dance On The Edge”, Belconnen Arts Centre’s contribution to the final event for this year’s AUSDANCE ACT Dance Week.
In a program full of ideas as well as nifty moves, “Dance on the edge”, by now an annual event, opens up spaces to independent professional dance artists to give them a chance to explore ideas.
First up in the centre’s magnificent lakeside foyer was “Great Woman Wolf Woman Bone Woman”, created and danced by Alana Stenning.
First clad in the red of humanity, matched by energetic dance moves, she changes to white after opening up a Pandora’s Box of white twigs and bones, to a voiceover expressing anxiety. Exploring the archetype of the wild woman, domestication versus freedom, creation versus destruction and the process of self-discovery, Stenning later moves around a Druidic circle of bones, twigs and cloth to melancholy Celtic string music.
Inside the dance studio, Gretel Burgess and Chloe McDougall performed the hilarious work, “Liability”, a reference to Burgess’s own erratic behaviour after she survived a stroke and became an obsessive impulse-shopper, to the embarrassment of her teenage daughter Chloe.
With brightly-coloured costumes and props, the wacky mother and barely tolerant daughter go through a series of motions similar to hand-jive to express the fun and the chaos. Then, backed by cheesy Cliff Richard and ABBA tunes, they embark on the true story of a green apple found at the bottom of one of the family bags by New Zealand quarantine agents.
House of Sand dancer Eliza Sanders and Squaring Circle muso Brendan Anderson, reject narrative in “Contents. Container”. This was a more abstract, intellectual work playing with the apparent opposition of electronic music to more organic dance. Similar to Stenning, it explores a series of opposites, meaning versus form, clarity versus obstruction, personal versus universal.
Nicholas Jachno’s solo work “An observant man” takes me on a pure physical journey through the human body’s capacities. Though seemingly in prime condition, Jachno’s leaps and bounces see him doubtful and eager to look at himself to assess how far his exercise can go in revealing his identity. This was the nearest to a pure dance piece during the show.
While the Australian Dance Party’s “Wasted”, which concluded the program, superficially showed elements of humour and irony, it proved a very serious response to the environment and sustainability. Here the creators Olivia Fyfe, Steve Gow, Alison Plevey, Alana Stenning and Ryan Stone, contort their bodies and faces in expressions of waste and destruction, a dramatic way of paralleling damage to the planet and damage to the human body.