Image by Anya Mckee
I am so glad I caught FORM Dance Projects’ Dance Bites 2014 season, featuring three works seeded by the Dance Makers Collective, a group formed to fund and showcase emerging choreographic talent.
First up was Miranda Wheen’s Safe Hands. A solo consisting of an up-to-the-minute commentary on current politics, a precise account of the charismatic sleight of hand prolifically represented in the media, featuring all the right moves of the fearless leader. This progressed from the initial crowd-rousing coming up close to his/her constituent, pumping with arms aloft in a Nixonesque Vee, to the repeated shoulder-shimmy drawing us in and holding us captive, and a thrashing, kneeling, back pump reminding me at once of duplicity in action – the man behind the scenes purging himself of wrongdoing, set to the gutsy gravelly cries of Janis Joplin singing Cry Baby.
Miranda closed with an appropriate homage to ‘Team Australia’, to Bonnie Tyler’s We Don’t Need Another Hero, dressed in tri-colour swimming costume, emblazoned with national logos of flag and country and shirt that became a mask tightly stretched across her face, to represent the homogenous many. The movement oozed patriotism, a special mix reminiscent of sporting champion and fascist en masse performance, seemingly innocuous on the surface with an undercurrent of menace in the simple execution.
This piece was filled with dry wit, a masterpiece in the making, deceptively dressed as pedestrian.
The duet Between Two and Zero co-choreographed and performed by Miranda and Matt Cornell was a joy to watch. The movement, an endless looping of arms, bodies intertwining and circling the space. The beauty and ingenuity lay in the appearance of simplicity, a repetition of elliptical crossings, friendly, flirtatiously combative, careful and caring, graduating to counterbalanced lifts consisting of suspended holdings of increasing intensity, feet alternately sliding and floating, vertical bodies suspended inches from the floor.
The excitement of this work was held within moments of the sparse evolving interaction, generously allowing the audience time to contemplate the developing narrative.
Carl Sciberras’ interactive media work Sketch felt like a true collaboration with equal weight assigned to each discipline. It was a wise decision to place the sketch/visual artist Todd Fuller and sound engineer Mitchell Mollison on the floor, allowing us to see the internal machinations of the piece.
There was a clear evolving trajectory in the use of visual technology from line drawn with pencil poised and projected simply on the cyclorama, outlining static and then slowly moving form, adding colour and speed, mimicking change in dynamics, shifting perspective, to culminate in a duet between animated/ illustrated and real-time self in the form of dancer Rosslyn Wythes.
Correlating sound slowed down to a fractured hum, which stuttered like morse code, speeding up to an electronic cacophony of busy textures, to finish in an endless surging and crashing of waves, as the animated self appeared and disappeared, became solid, then receded against a pencil-smudged and repeatedly coloured and erased background.
The dance itself felt like a scientific treatment; Carl, Rosslyn and Katina Olsen’s driving momentum as breathing organic matter, bringing the other elements to life, rather than representative of feeling beings possessing psyches.
I really appreciate experiencing the progression of each work and was surprised that the ideas seeded a year ago have been realised as cohesive works in their own right. I enjoyed the use of repetition as a consistent treatment throughout the very diverse offerings.
Congratulations to Carl and his team for making Dance Makers Collective possible, allowing for the opportunity to stay with an idea, to explore the parameters and showcase work over several stages.
The long-awaited second part of SCORE to follow very soon. Promise.
– by Vicki Van Hout