Dance / “Hot to Trot 2020”, QL2 Dance. Directed by Ruth Osborne. At Gorman Arts Centre, November 21. Reviewed by BILL STEPHENS
QL2 Dance’s “Hot to Trot” program is an annual presentation that gives young, aspiring choreographers who have been through the QL2 Dance process an opportunity to stretch their wings.
Despite additional challenges provided by COVID-19 restrictions, 11 young artists took up the opportunity, resulting in an interesting program of 10 works, two of which were outstanding.
Filmed dance has really come to the fore during COVID-19 as young dancers quickly adapt to the opportunities offered by streaming technology. Two interesting examples began the program.
For her film “Flowering”, Natsuko Yonezawa gathered images of young dancers engrossed in rehearsal for QL2’s recent “Leap into Chaos” production. Using a circular frame she transformed these images into a continuous kaleidoscopic sequence in which the dancers merged into each other to suggest flowers growing and blooming. It was a lovely idea superbly executed.
More conventional but no less successful was Magnus Meagher’s film “Stairs”. Filmed in various locations around Canberra, this light-hearted film followed three young men as they experimented with interesting and athletic ways of negotiating familiar stairways.
Perhaps it was a mindset brought on by lockdown, but several of the works featured strong driving music and mechanical movements. Among these were “Programmed Pulse” created by Alyse and Mia Canton in which Alyse and Mia were joined by Cassidy Thomson and Sofie Nielson to interpret the feeling of being stuck in constant repetition each day.
Pippi Keogh tackled a similar theme with four dancers for her work “(re)Strict”, which explored ideas of freedom and control, while Rory Warne, working with three dancers, explored notions of the systematic workings of daily life with his work “Face On”.
Courtney Tha impressed with her clever, cheeky solo “Faking it Till you Make it” which had a surprisingly sinister climax.
Sarah Long’s ambitious work “Circle: Complete” energetically performed by Danny Riley, Hollie Knowles, Mia Canton and Rory Warne, employing perhaps more calisthenics than dance, attempted a complicated exploration of the hero’s journey by four individuals. While difficult to discern from the movement whether or not they were successful, it was certainly spectacular and entertaining.
Lillian Cooks’ “Describe the Shape of T at The Beginning of The” was one of two outstanding creations in this program. Alyse Canton, Caitlin Bissett, Mia Canton and Sarah Long, costumed in pink petticoats, responded to live voice overs among an imaginatively-lit arrangement of ropes, chairs and cubes, created an arresting dream-like, visually interesting and psychologically involving dance work,
The other was Danny Riley’s solo “Similar, Same but Different”, a touching homage to his dancer brother Jack. For this solo, Riley recreated a work that his brother had created some years ago around a big red chair.
Performing in front of a film of his brother dancing that work, using the same red chair and white tuxedo, Riley mirrored his brother, breaking out every so often to express his own individuality. It was a touching idea, superbly conceived and executed.