Dancing in the gardens after dark

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Poet Melinda Smith, a “Mother Nature” figure.

AS part of the Enlighten Festival, the Australian Dance Party is holding an after-dark tour through the Australian National Botanic Gardens, complete with illuminated live dance, music and spoken word.

According to the convenor of the “Party” Alison Plevey, this was a wonderful chance for her team of collaborators to work in a public space while studying, in dance, everything from our symbiotic relationships with the natural world to parasitism, mutualism and commensalism.

At a media call on Friday (February 26) in fact, it was so public that the dancers were nearly trampled by regular visitors to the gardens, but not to worry, the performances will take place in twilight and by night after the gates have closed.

Dancer Ryan Stone, blending with the foliage.

High in the rainforest, gully dancer Ryan Stone gave a lithe, sinuous performance, at once seemingly besieged by insects and blending sympathetically with the foliage.

Further down in the gully, poet Melinda Smith, decked out by costumier Aislinn King as a “Mother Nature” figure, intoned “we are growing, layering on a wooden skin”, while Elizabeth Cameron Dalman, unrecognisable as a gardener sweeping up the leaves, created a soundscape as she swished her broom.

The title “Symbiosis” indicates the interaction of performers with nature and with a live audience, and Plevey told those present that, in keeping with Enlighten, the lights would shine through the trees at night.

Apart from the performances we saw, the event will take the form of a guided tour led by Liz Lea, with sound design and performances by Andy McMillan and cellist Alex Voorhoeve and dance and choreography by Plevey, Olivia Fyfe, Stone, Levi Szabo, Cameron Dalman and Somebody’s Aunt.

“Symbiosis” Australian National Botanic Gardens, March 5-14, book here.

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Helen Musa
“CityNews” arts editor

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