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Canberra Today 16°/18° | Sunday, December 10, 2023 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

‘Yummy’ dancers strive for the taste of success

“Acetic”… highly technical and scarcely understandable to a non-scientific ear, but when the dancing began, the concept was clearly visible. Photo: Lorna Sim

Dance / “Yummy”, QL2 Dance Chaos Project. At Canberra College Theatre, October 13. Reviewed by MICHELLE POTTER.

CHANGE is in the air at QL2 Dance, Canberra’s esteemed youth dance organisation. 

This year’s Chaos Project, an annual event bringing together dancers of various levels of experience, was largely managed by Alice Lee Holland. Holland is currently associate artistic director at QL2 Dance and will take over as artistic director in 2024 when longstanding director Ruth Osborne retires from the role.

Chaos 2023, produced by Emma Batchelor, had the overarching title of “Yummy”. It looked at five tastes that we all, or most of us, have experienced in our lives: salt, umami, bitter, acetic and sweet, with each taste represented by a separate segment created by a different choreographer. 

On the surface it seemed a conceptually difficult topic for dance. How does one dance bitter? Or acetic? But what seemed like a problem was nicely solved with a voiceover, spoken by Liz Lea, that introduced each taste. 

Holland choreographed “Umami” and it had an interesting spoken introduction that explained the origins of the term and its Japanese origins. But the most engrossing of these spoken sections was that for “Acetic”. It was highly technical in content and often scarcely understandable to a non-scientific ear. 

But, when the dancing began, the concept was clearly visible in the movement envisioned by choreographer Patricia Hayes Kavanagh, with the dancers giving their impressions of tasting an acidic item. 

From the point of view of dance technique, the strongest section was “Bitter” choreographed by Osborne and performed by eight senior dancers. The use of the stage space was beautifully handled with at times small groups of dancers taking a prominent place, while at others all eight dancers spread across the space, dancing individually. 

“Sweet” one of the five taste sensations in “Yummy”, this year’s Chaos Project. Photo: Lorna Sim

But every section had its high points, from the very young dancers who made up most of the cast for “A Pinch of Salt”, choreographed by Olivia Wikner, to the mixed-age group dressed variously in pinkish hues who occasionally drifted off to sleep from an overdose of sugar in “Sweet”, choreographed by Jason Pearce.

But what of changes in the air? Musically, “Yummy” sounded quite different from previous Chaos events. The diverse selection of music ranged from Vivaldi as recomposed by Max Richter to a selection from the avant-folk group, pigbaby. 

I also enjoyed the change from one segment to another, which was different on each occasion and included some unexpected moments when “Acetic” transitioned to “Sweet”. To my surprise, sugary dancers entered and physically removed acidy dancers from the stage.

The Chaos Project has been a longstanding aspect of the QL2 Dance program. It looks set to continue as an event to enjoy as Alice Lee Holland begins her transition to the leader of QL2 Dance.

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