A heightened sense of anticipation. A silent presence on stage: the silhouette of a dancer in a translucent sarong; knee down on the dim lit floor against the backdrop of ebony and ivory decor. A new dancer glides to full view. Dynamic music comes to life as the beacon lights upon another creature. She reads out words in a foreign tongue. The dancer spasms and gyrates with each sound.
The dancers’ motions are full of grace, acrobatic, most nimble. Mist, or is it fog? It billows across the arena. Inside the music, a jangle of keys. Metal. A hammer on a rock. Stone. A running stream. Water. The whisper of a breeze. Air. Yes, sounds of the real world.
More dancers float on stage. A beam of light casts its tender gaze upon a mirror. And what is that? It’s a water trough. Illusion. Pathos in the dance story, an interpretive telling in a world of few words. What’s that? Controlled discord.
And now a synchrony of movement, continuous, seamless. Drums. Body, against body, continuous, seamless. Drums. The music builds to a crescendo. Sweat, athleticism. Bodies lusty, kinetic. There is rawness in the movement, it’s like a river dance. Sweat, athleticism. Drums. Each creature is individual yet part of a mesmeric whole. Nudity in a culminating scene.
Under the direction of Anouk van Dijk, Chunky Move dance artists present a new choreography of motion and space. The solidity of an unbending setting offers a stark divergence from the focused, ethereal performance in sync with the theme: anti-gravity. Bodies and space.
The program makes clever use of props (smoke, rocks, mirrors, water) and a talented cast in a successful union of dance, sound, lighting and illusion. As bodies slither, shift, rock and bound in fluid execution that transverses the stage, there is ingenious synchrony of slow motion and fast pace, etching into the performance a quality that renders it visually stimulating.
In an elegant program brochure, director van Dijk explains his collaboration with Singaporean visual artist and filmmaker Ho Tzo Nyen – with his unique process of deep distillation, meticulous preparation and utter refinement – to fashion
‘a work on stability and transience, on isolation and connection, a journey of sweat, labour and conquering.’
There are moments of snail where the music could surge to an exultant expression of sound and body. But in a provocative loop that spheres you around an hour, and plus, there is much intensity to hook – whether you have a trained or untrained eye on the technicalities of dance. To unlovers of ballet or slow body dance, this is a highly evocative contemporary piece whose aesthetic, fervour and vigour that just might turn you.
Now showing at Malthouse Theatre until 26 March.
Concept, Choreography & Direction/Anouk Van Dijk
Co-Creator & Concept / Ho Tzu Nyen
Visual Design/ Ho Tzu Nyen, Paul Jackson, Anouk van Dijk
Lighting Design/ Paul Jackson
Composition & Sound Design/ Jethro Woodward
Costume Design/ Harriet Oxley
Performed By / James Batchelor, Marlo Benjamin, Sarah Ronnie Bruce, Tara Jade Samaya, Niharika Senapati & Luigi Vescio
Photo credit: Pippa Samaya
About Eugen Bacon
Eugen M. Bacon studied at Maritime Campus, less than two minutes walk from The Royal Observatory of the Greenwich Meridian. A computer graduate mentally re-engineered into creative writing, Eugen has a PhD in writing. She has published over 100 short stories and creative articles, and has in work a creative non-fiction book and a literary speculative novel. Her short stories are published in journals, magazines & anthologies worldwide. Eugen is editor of MELBOURNE Magazine and sub-editor of FICTION Magazine at The Australia Times.
Profile: View Eugen's profile here