Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Sydney Dance New Breed

Most exciting ! Here's my thoughts for Sydney Arts Guide http://www.sydneyartsguide.com.au/sydney-dance-company-presents-new-breed-carriageworks/ The current season of NEW BREED by THE Sydney Dance Company showcases the choreographic talents of four choreographers whose thematic ideas and experience are quite mixed in a powerful, dramatic programme. DERIVED. Choreography by Bernard Knauer. Dancers Charmene Yap and Daniel Roberts. Pic Peter Greig The opening work Derived by Bernhard Knauer, to music by his father Jurgen Knauer, is a short but startlingly punchy work, riveting and mesmerizing. The dancers are in subtly textured blue costumes. Short futuristic solos (Holly Doyle’s opening one is tremendous) in squares of light are expanded to duos and trios – wonderful sculptural fluidity and enfolding. Knauer’s choreography is magnificent, slinky, angular and intense. There is a pulsating trio at one point. Angular, circular arm movements are favoured with a feeling of vertical fluidity. CONFORM- Choreography by kristina Chan. Dancers Richard Cilli and Petros Treklis. Pic Peter Greig One of the highlights of the evening was Conform, by Kristina Chan, featuring the men of the company in an extremely strong performance. Chan’s stated mission statement was to explore what it meant to be a man in contemporary society. The piece began with all the cast, all in grey casual outfits and sneakers, on stage and featured hazy lighting. At first there appears to be no movement, but in fact there is and it is very subtle – a slight hunch of the shoulders, a change of neck or hand position –they’re disintegrating internally under pressure and no one can escape. In this section there are hints of Butoh and De Quincy’s Bodyweather. It also reminded me of Hofesh Schefter’s Political Mother with its explosive, overwhelming power. This is a piece that looks at the Outsider vs the Group, the notion of being pressured to belong. Are these characters being controlled by an unseen outside force?! There’s quite a bit of floorwork and flurries, and an intimate yet almost wrestling duet. At one point all the dancers are involved in a rolling sequence on the floor, replacing each other like a conveyor belt, in a tender covering phrase of movement. Unsettling strobe lighting is strongly used at one point. There is a ‘dying swan’ like solo at one point and another solo where one cast member is almost flipping himself inside out. Towards the end, with striking back-lighting, there is an ensemble segment for the whole cast featuring sculptural group writhing movements combined with Bob Fosse like moves. This piece felt very open to interpretation- are we seeing a footy team in action? Are we seeing an ancient Egyptian hymn/dance to the sun? Very impressive and striking. SO MUCH DOESN’T MATTER. Choreography by Fiona Jopp. Dancer Juliette Barton. Pic by Peter Greig. In my view, the third work Fiona Jopp’s So Much Doesn’t Matter didn’t really work. It felt disjointed and confusing although the younger members of the audience appeared to enjoy it hugely. Using the tune of Greensleeves (various versions thereof) and incorporating speech, memories of the childhood ice cream van and Shakespeare, Jopp explores luxury, sexual pleasure and fractured history. Childhood games are included and some of the choreography has the feel of a computer game. Whilst superficially it appears rather bubbly and joyous the work has hidden dark sinister undertones. REIGN. Choreography by Daniel Riley. Dancer Janessa Dufty. Pic Peter Greig Daniel Riley’s Reign has an obvious Bangarra/Aboriginal influence as the chorus of ghostly women (are they haunted spirits of the land?), wearing white ochre and wonderfully textured white costumes, eerily capture our attention as they become quite menacing (shades of the Willis in Giselle) and seek to bring down the ‘queen’ (Janessa Dufty). The soundtrack by Prokofiev and Thayer crashed, beeped and hummed. In a strong, powerful performance the Aboriginal link is reinforced with the fabulous strong opening solo, the ’bathing’ in the sand, and the return at the end. Riley’s work attempts to look at how powerful women can be undermined by those around them . A most striking, exciting and challenging programme . Running time 1 hr 50mins (approx.) including interval Sydney Dance Company’s program NEW BREED is playing at Carriageworks, 245 Wilson Street, Eveleigh until Sunday 13th December.

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