danse (1)Photo - Patrick Berger

The space is strewn with low wooden benches, spread around a large black tarquet-covered platform and a smaller lightbox-style elevated stage. We sit down, all facing different directions, not sure which way to turn. Eventually, the wall behind me lights up with a projected video of Rosalind Crisp dancing. Her movements are sudden, forceful and controlled. A few people start to look at the opposite wall, and as I follow their gaze I see the live Crisp, moving alongside the wall under a pale blue light.

danse (1) is an improvisational performance that engages with the space it’s performed in. This time, in its fifth season, it is performed at Performance Space’s new Carriageworks space. The program notes delineate Crisp’s mode of working “with the body and an ensemble of unstable principles which conduct the production of movement.” The three principles of the practice are based around redirecting habits, keeping the movements unique, and enlarging and suspending the commencement of each movement. The two stage areas, and much of the floor, become the sites of performance, as Crisp dances around, between and through the audience. We are invited to move around the space as we wish, a creative decision resulting in an interesting dynamic of audience watching other audience members.

danse (1) is based on interesting concepts of exploring the space, extending its limitations and possibilities. Crisp, along with Isabelle Ginot’s live-typed projected text, constructs a series of images, shapes and references. But its constructed nature is the downfall of this piece. Although improvised, it seems too constructed, and Crisp as a performer comes across as detached and impersonal. Spatially, I found the piece interesting and thought-provoking, but for me, Crisp’s dance style didn’t quite match this level of engagement.

For the majority of the piece, Crisp performs in silence, with only the ambient buzzing drone of the lights and her own staccato breathing creating the sonic atmosphere. This results in the mood remaining static throughout the piece, until the very end, when finally there is a shift. After a few moments giggling to herself as she dances, Crisp looks over to the control desk and says: “Music.” All of a sudden, Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Hey Joe’ blares loudly, and Crisp loosens up. Her dancing becomes faster, more fluid and less controlled, as she throws herself around the larger platform stage. She throws her shoes in the air, and at the audience, in wild abandon. It’s a section that unfortunately doesn’t last long, but for me, was the most engaging part of the piece.

Rosalind Crisp
danse (1)

CarriageWorks | 245 Wilson Street, Eveleigh
31 May - 2 June
Wed - Sat 8pm
$25/$20/$15 + BF, Student Rush Wed & Thur All Tix $12

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