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Short Sweet+Dance 2010: Week 3
Written by lloyd bradford (brad) syke   
Saturday, 17 April 2010 14:58

Short Sweet+Dance 2010: Week 3Wow! How fortuitous, to catch the penultimate performance of Short Sweet + Dance in its third and final week. The overall standard was truly surpassing, even by the consistently high measure customarily applicable to this worthy event on Sydney's autumnal arts calendar.

Cloe Fournier is a versatile talent. Not only did she co-choreograph the curtain-raising work with fellow dancer Imogen Cranna, she co-composed (with Ekrem Mulayim, the third dancer in the ensemble) its evocative, burbling soundtrack of electronically-generated percussive effects and ethereal live vocals, entitled Burst. She also had a hand in the bubbling motion graphics, by Guy Harding. This represents a substantial investment of time and energy, but I'm not sure it quite came off: while the program notes indicate an exploration 'just off the surface of life', the jerky, wind-up movement, while compelling, and the donning and shedding of cleverly-designed bubble-wrap garments (I wonder if Fournier devised costume, to boot) didn't convey that (nor anything else literal, or metaphorical, particularly), to me. Perhaps I lack imagination, or concentration. In fact, for mine, my companion has a better take: that the bubble-wrap was a comment on the synthetic, material, consumerist nature of our existence; collectively, a veritable plague upon the planet. Perhaps Ms Cloe can revise her notes, accordingly.

Hooks & Loops was, happily, but one of the strokes of sheer inventive genius of the evening. If it weren't for much of the equally extraordinary work that was to follow, it would have easily eclipsed the competition. Choreographed by 20past4 Dance Collective which, I assume, is the body comprising the four bodies of Jenni Andrew, Ash Bee, Anna Dougherty & Shelley Moore, it represents a warm-up for their much-anticipated collaboration with experimental sound artist, Mergatroid. Velcro becomes the focus for this exploration of an entirely new dance vocabulary. Yes, velcro. Their black-and-white leotards were adorned with strips of it, which was used to create both most of the soundtrack and as the palette for creating a deliberately restricted, but nonetheless very fully-exploited, range of movement. Praise be to Allah, 'the piece focuses not on constructing meaning'. Phew! What a cool change from all the pretentious, vacuous nonsense which so often suffice as rationale. The result is exhilirating; charming; utterly delightful. And damn clever!

Kevin Privett's By Looking is, we're advised, a work-in-progress, with yet more interesting and engaging music, courtesy of Lamb, danced by youMove: the outstanding Sean Marcs, the irrepressible & omnipresent Cloe Fournier, Anna Healey, Mel Tyquin, Jayne McCann, Amy Coggiolo, Imogen Cranna, Ang French, Ash Barton, Nat Pelarek and Lauren McPhail. Privett is, or has been, choreo-in-residence with youMove and his work purports to explore perspective, using similar techniques to those deployed in visual art. It looks (in the best possible sense, I stress) like a w-i-p and is almost there. I look forward to seeing it flower fully.

Ars Diaboli, by Svebor Secak, uses avant-garde classical music (by Niksa Njiric & Ivo Josipovic), a dynamic live string quartet, and superb dancers Benjamin Duran and Ksenija Krutova, to meditate, in surprisingly light, supremely confident and gently amusing fashion, on 'the porous line that divides and connects contemporary ballet and modern dance'. The engagement with the music, presence, balletic excellence and creativity is breathtakingly brilliant: there is practically no way to convey the effect. Suffice to say, I never would have imagined the guilty, ubiquitous pleasure of picking one's nose could be embodied so romantically.

What Remains (Slow Dances For Fast Times, Part 3) is, as the name indicates, part of a captivating, far-reaching concept: 'a choreographic project that will develop over the next couple of years; once completed, it will consist of twelve short solo works performed by a wide range of dancers and performers'. Perversely, Part 3 & Part 9 are the first two. Martin del Amo is really onto something here. With music by Joseph Canteloube, Ben Hancock emerges, as if from a chrysalis, to slowly discover his embryonic body; like a new foal, he wobbles and stumbles, yet courageously perseveres, while looking like the tripartite lovechild of Kramer, Chaplin & Edward Scissorhands. In fact, you can throw Pinocchio (or Guiseppe) & a Thunderbird in for good measure. The work is redolent of all of this and looks eerily familiar, but I'm struggling to place my striking deja vu. That aside, it is stunningly original (as far as I know; at the very least, laudable homage) and almost transcendentally moving. At the same time, it is utterly ticklish, touching a deep-seated, normally inaccessible vein of involuntary, universal humour. It's you-beauteous, through-and-through! Indeed, almost insurpassable. It would do any company more than proud. World-class. I liked it. A lot. Can you tell?

Just when you thought the best must surely be behind you, for this evening, Martin del Amo's Part 9, danced by the increasingly inestimable Sean Marcs to Portishead, while not upping the ante, ensures it remains at a very high pitch. Demanding, athletic, fluid slow-mo plays like a melody. Again, very, very good.

Unwritten Etiquette, by Verity Jacobsen, utilises a sardonic spoken-word soundtrack, with musical accompaniment, and the dancing talents of Jayne NcCann & Jacobsen. What sounds like the voice of Maggie Smith, outlining some of the more absurd aspects of 16th-century etiquette (surely these 'laws' can't be fair dinkum), is matched by ornate costume and solemn demeanour to make well-deserved mockery of a set of ridiculous affectations. It is thoroughly entertaining, executed with panache and succeeds in its clear, simple vision.

Few Things Of The Same Kind, conceived by Tim Farrar, and danced by Kevin Privett and Tanya Voges, is much more successful in achieving its aim than Just Off The Surface which, it seems to me, was going for a similar target. It is about connection, disconnect(ion)s, time, expectations. The difficulties of relationships of all human kinds. At the same time, the piece is elegant, sophisticated and realises the highest standards of technique, while marrying-up with the emotional trajectory. Contemporary dance at its finest.

Recess:00, by Ela Ray Markstein, with an original composition by Me-Lee Hay, danced by Chris Jhureea (CJ), Libby Cox, Karen Crespo, Hayley Farmer, Courtney 'Topsy' Turvey, Stephanie Tulloch and Markstein, is a well-intentioned look at youth suicide. While it incorporates some stunning sequences, it's perhaps a little disjointed and definitely a little too didactic. Think of a fire warning sign. There are perilous dangers at the extremes. So it is with dance. Veering too far in the direction of the cryptic or, conversely, the literalistic, tends to work against enlistment of the audience.

Hits & A Miss was, even after the superlative What Remains, a clear audience fave. Chris Horsey has devised a tap-danced ep of Seinfeld. Craig Calhoun has come to the party, with an unmistakably imitative take-off of the televisual icon's distinctive theme music. Then, Horsey, Tracey Wilson, Trent Kidd & Wilson Thomas have set about faithfully recreating the four pivotal characters who, without speaking a word, play out, with stylistic familiarity, the tics, mannerisms and demeanours that have made them so famous, rich & revered. 'A sitcom on tap. All's swell that ends swell!' Dance, theatre, & sheer entertainment doesn't get any better.

In honour of SS + D, I willingly do something I'd never do for the eminently doubtable Pope Benedict. Genuflect.


SHORT SWEET+DANCE

Short Sweet+Dance Week 1
March 30 - April 1, 2010
Riverside Theatres  | Corner Church and Market St Parramatta
Tuesday - Thursday 8pm
$28 / $25
Bookings: www.riversideparramatta.com.au | 8839 3399

Short Sweet+Dance Week 2
April 7 - 10, 2010
Parade Theatres Kensington (NIDA)
Wednesday - Saturday 8pm plus 4pm Saturday matinee
$28 / $25
Bookings: www.ticketek.com.au | 1300 795 012  

Short Sweet+Dance Week 3
April 13 - 17, 2010
Parade Theatres Kensington (NIDA)
Tuesday - Saturday 8pm plus 4pm Saturday matinee
$28 / $25 conc
Bookings: www.ticketek.com.au | 1300 795 012  

Short Sweet+Dance Wildcards
Parade Theatres Kensington (NIDA)
Sat April 10 at 2pm
$25 / $22
Bookings: www.ticketek.com.au | 1300 795 012  

Visit: www.shortandsweet.org
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