De Quincey Co delivers Metadata, a flickering collage of contemporary dance informed by butoh and astrophysics. Underscored by a thrumming, seething soundtrack, the show questions cosmic movement through an intricate play of shadows and binaries.
Framed by flickering strobes, dancer Tess de Quincey jerks, convulses and glides her way across the stage in the show’s first component, Pure Light. De Quincey emerges as a lone figure draped in a loose white hooded robe, her silhouette amplified dramatically behind her in a space lit by shifting fluorescent lights to a soundtrack of crackles and hums. It is in this component of the show that we are introduced to the motif of pure white light, which is to be played with and manipulated to a truly astonishing extent. Whether as an ocean of wriggling, sperm-like dashes or a matrix of barcode-like stripes, light is presented both as a standalone entity and as a counterpoint to the corporeality of the human form. The light does not merely frame the performers; rather, it takes on a presence of its own, allowing for a dynamic interplay between the human and the artificial. The lights, costuming and sounds combine in a minimalist collage of 0’s and 1’s, neon crucifixes, an X marks the spot.
The show’s second component, Moths and Mathematics, continues this exploration of form with the addition of second dancer Peter Fraser. Things start slowly in this ballet of vectors. The two performers walk in a void, disconnected yet somehow part of a whole. At times their bodies seem like magnets repelling one another, coming closer all the time but never truly connecting, continually bouncing off the surface of each other. Seemingly random movements emerge as patterns which are at once intricately wrought and improvisational, calling to mind cloud chambers, universal collisions and sonographic echoes. Projections surround us, enveloping the audience in a sea of flickering lights like slow, distant fireworks.
Although the show undoubtedly addresses contemporary knowledge and scientific theory, its exploration of tension is one of its great strengths: tension between the visual and the auditory, between light and dark, between bodies and the space they move through. Flanked by lines of flickering strobes, the body is presented as drastically human in contrast to the sterility which frames it. Perhaps the most dynamic moments of the show are those which show the full extent of the body’s reality: a sheen of sweat glinting off a bicep, or the deliberate sound of a heavy, slow footfall echoing through the sudden silent darkness of the theatre. De Quincey Co is exploring unknown territory, space that human consciousness cannot yet know and certainly not explain in words. In the end, we’re none the wiser, only left with a hint of what could hide in the shadows of the universe.
When: 15th – 17th September 2016
Where: Riverside Theatres, Parramatta NSW
Tickets: $25 – $35
Facilitator: Associate Professor Ian Maxwell, Department of Theatre and Performance Studies, The University of Sydney
15th and 16th September – Prof. Geraint F Lewis, Professor of Astrophysics, Sydney Institute for Astronomy, The University of Sydney
17th September – Dr Maryanne Large, Associate Professor, School of Physics, The University of Sydney