QL2 Dance performing "Rebel". Photo: Lorna Sim

“Rebel”, QL2 Dance, choreographers Jack Ziesing, Jodie Farrugia, Ruth Osborn, Steve Gow and Alison Plevey (pre-show). At The Playhouse until May 22. Reviewed by BILL STEPHENS

THE strength of QL2 Dance presentations is how the dancers are involved in the creation of the works they are performing. 

For each project, the dancers take part in research and creative workshops around chosen topics. Then follow intense rehearsals under the guidance of professional choreographers. 

It’s a process that has yielded extraordinary results over the years, attested by the alumni listed in the program who have gone on to successful choreographic careers, and resulted in QL2 Dance becoming an acknowledged leader in youth dance nationally and internationally. 

“Rebel” is an outstanding example of the success of this process. Twenty eight dancers, aged 14 to 22, studied protest movements from the late '60s and early '70s as the basis of this compelling dance work. 

Presented in three sections, the first entitled “Then”, choreographed by Ruth Osborne and Steve Gow, commenced lightheartedly with the dancers costumed in riotous Carnaby Street fashion, cheerfully performing a mash-up of the dance styles of the period. 

The Vietnam War heralds a change in mood and the beginning of the protest movements as the youth of the world began to demand control of its destiny. The women’s rights, gay liberation, civil rights, climate change, even fashion, represented by an outrageous fashion parade, all cleverly represented in dance terms, became reasons for protest. 

The words “I am Angry” delivered with conviction by Toby McKnight, tightly framed in a spotlight, commenced a powerful statement written by Jack Ziesing that set the mood for his compelling section “Now. Problem Child”. As McKnight delivered his speech, the stage dressing quietly disappeared. 

The lights came up to reveal black-costumed dancers in a line at the back of the stage. Working to an ominous, compelling beat, they proceeded to perform a regimented routine with their arms, before breaking into groups. 

Ziesing’s mastery of quirky unison crowd movement for this section, performed with extraordinary commitment by the dancers, resulted in a highly original and compelling dance work that ended the way it started with the stage dressing quietly returning and Toby McKnight completing his anger statement.

Jodie Farrugia’s section “When?” picked up on the issues raised in Ziesing’s work. Focusing on leadership and ideas of gender inequality and toxic masculinity, represented through young men being forced into uniform dress and young women parading with books on their heads, her work featured demanding acrobatic sequences, clever manipulation of costume elements, all achieved with considerable aplomb by the dancers, and ended dramatically.

A professional gloss was added to the production by Adam Ventoura’s extraordinary soundscapes, the dramatic lighting design by Mark Dyson and superb video design of Wildbear Digital. Once again Cate Clelland’s witty costumes perfectly complemented the concepts of the choreographers. 

A special bonus provided by a delightful pre-show performance in the foyer, choreographed by Alison Plevey, set the tone for this thought-provoking, challenging and thoroughly entertaining evening of dance. 

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