Thursday, 25 May 2017

Sydney Dance Company in Orb

An unusual double bill. Here's my thoughts for Artshub

An unusual combination of wonderful dance around the number 8 and the moon.
Full Moon image via Sydney Dance Company.
Two world premieres to celebrate Ocho and Full Moon;  it is eight years since Bonachela was appointed Artistic Director of Sydney Dance Company.  Another link to the number eight is that both works used eight dancers. It also is a chance to see some magnetic, superb dancing.
Cheng Tsung-lung, artistic director of Cloud Gate 2, has devised a work entitled Full Moon which is very powerful, meditative and hypnotic.
It is based on the idea of blending the various myths and legends about the Moon and its pull – and the mysterious forest in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream with Zen. The music by Lim Giong is at times relentless and driving and has a gong like and sometimes Gamelan feel, combining strings electronics and percussion.  
Choreographically it opens at a run. Some of the movements are almost feral, at times slithery and lizard like. There are also elements of Butoh perhaps and stylized ritual as if in a temple. Slowmo and both birdlike and other animal movements (hair flowing like tossed manes) were also included. At times extreme control was demanded with the very slow unfolding of a foot or unfurling of an arm. There are some very demanding and unusual lifts. Amazing soft jumps with high elevation were required as well as rolling floorwork and whirling dervish trance like spinning. Sometimes the dancers were like Buddhist sculptures. Overall choreographically the work uses the circle as a framework, dancers arcing, spinning and running.
Costumes by Fan Huai-chih, in silvers, blues and red, inspired by Zen principles, (particularly the Japanese rock garden) accentuates the use of layers and wonderful assorted textures. Latisha Sparks in a ruffled red dress has a spectacular, very exciting solo. Sam Young-Wright, who is very tall, is costumed in a long skirt that flows with his many turns and high kicks. Damien Cooper’s ambient soft/hard lighting was elegantly distinguished. Cooper’s atmospheric lighting was at times eerie and shadowy, sometimes  with flickering flashes of lighting at other times clear or with glorious washes of colour. Nick Wales’ crashing electronic score boomed and rumbled with overlays of trumpet and a haunting, impressive finale with the voice of Yonglu songman Rrawun Maymuru included, accompanying the hopefully healing moments at the end. 
Bonachela’s Ocho (‘Eight‘ in Spanish) was chilling, cold and powerful. It examined the loneliness of being in  a group, the pressure of living in the  concrete jungle of a harsh urban environment .Each of the dancers have shining , spectacular solos. It ended on a hopeful note with glorious sunrise like lighting and First Peoples music being sung.

Rating: 3½ stars out of 5

Orb by Sydney Dance Company 

Full Moon
Choreographer: Cheng Tsung-lung
Composer: Lim Giong
Lighting & Set Designer: Damien Cooper
Costume Designer: Fan Huai-chih
Choreographer: Rafael Bonachela
Composer: Nick Wales, featuring vocals by Rrawun Maymuru used with permission of the Mangalili Clan
Lighting Designer: Damien Cooper
Set & Costume Designer: David Fleischer
Costume Realisation: Aleisa Jelbart

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