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Promising dancers ‘Gather’ in performance

The biennial youth dance collaboration culminated in the “Gather” performance. Photo: Lorna Sim

Dance / “Gather: The Meet Up Performance”, youth dance companies. At The Playhouse, July 10. Reviewed by SAMARA PURNELL.

SIX companies, from four states, for four days. The biennial youth dance collaboration culminated in the “Gather” performance at The Playhouse.

“Connection” opened the program, but lacked just that – missing a little spark and connection between the two dancers. The soundtrack was soothing and the muted tones of the costumes and subtle body paint on the dancers informed the audience of the origins of the work.

Long-legged girls performed repetitive movements and extended leg-lines, in a work depicting packing and moving. The soundtrack of zippers and stacking gave the impression of laptops and backpacks but “Move Me” by Austi was about moving to different places and spaces. Gentle cohesion between the dancers was on display.

“Untethered” by Tasmanian group Stompin, used large helium balloons as props, sparking the question – Are these a hindrance or a complement to the individual and the group and what could they represent?

The choreography has the focus split between the group and the balloon bearer for much of the routine. Plucky music, playful and inquisitive choreography, spritely dancing and a cute ending made this an enjoyable piece to watch. Attention to the presentation of costumes is needed so as not to detract from the performance.

Refreshingly, for both audience and dancers, Fling performed a piece that was dance for the sake of fun and joyfulness: An oversized puffer jacket and a solid dance beat. Humorous and carefree, “Puffer” allowed the dancers to cut loose with freedom of movement, messy hair and an infectious energy that the audience clearly enjoyed.

“Shared Language” from QL2 competently and confidently explored the excess of mobile phone use, while missing out on genuine connection and experiences. The dancers were in tune with each other and convincing in their movement and characters.

“Conversations From the Other Day” by Catapult was billed as an expression of patriarchal influences on their daily lives, based on personal experiences of the dancers. Perhaps better to have left the notes unread as what was actually performed was quite a beautiful work, to the haunting music of Olafur Arnalds but beginning in silence and blue light.

An Asian-inspired look, with martial arts references and loose, pretty costumes, the “conversations” part was evident, but what was beautifully depicted was not clearly laden with the intended meaning.

Yellow Wheel’s “The Dancing Fever of 1518” to the catchy track NY Lipps Dries Van Notes 2020 Remix combined hints of disco, Bob Fosse and small, staccato movements, morphing and expanding.

Black costumes were gradually replaced with colour, sparkle and stripes in this light-hearted and energetic dance number to conclude the show. It was a good note to end the night on and could have integrated into a longer finale including all the dancers.
Despite being created across different states and companies, most of the pieces shared a cohesion of some sort – through dance vocabulary, through the colour palette of the costumes or the music, including some challenging soundtracks to work with.

“Gather” showcased some very promising dancers and the group has presented an evening of dance that was certainly a rewarding experience for all involved and an enjoyable production for those who watched.

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