Chunky Move’s Glow was a hit when it premiered in 2006. Now an extended season in MIAF will allow many more people to see this intimate solo work.
With audience surrounding all 4 sides of a white stage from above, the atmosphere is like a mini stadium. But instead of watching a contest or confrontation, we are presented with a synthesis - a union between lone dancer and slick technology.
Collaborations like this one that mix the organic nature of the dancing body with the programs of a machine are often fraught and heavily weighted towards the technology side. Glow is just the opposite – it works as a successful blending of computer and human form, with neither element overshadowing the other.
Sara Black is the exceptional solo dancer (although 3 others share the role throughout the MIAF season) who inhabits the space. She transforms, thrashes, swoons, at times, vocalizes through a half hour of grueling physicality. She undergoes an evolution of sorts, often animalistic and grotesque. It’s a wild ride and she commits unwaveringly. From a fetal position, she morphs through various emotional and physical states. She is fully absorbed and embodied, even in moments of repose.
The floor bound visuals that surround Black come from German artist Frieder Weiβ who, through a video tracking system, creates the various lines and shapes that frame and follow Black. The integration is so tight that it is hard to tell whether the dancer is shaping these visuals or vice versa. It is this seamlessness, this organic blending, that makes Glow work so well. Black stretches out, limbs askew and bright lines frame her shape. She travels through various atmospheres, from stark white to broodingly eerie.
Sound and music design from Luke Smiles (with additional music by Ben Frost) also enhance the interactive relationship, setting a sonic tone that matches the physical experience. It’s a symbiotic relationship where every element of the performance is entwined and entangled.
Adding to this is the experience of watching the rest of the audience watching the action. One can’t help but cast gaze on those on the other side of the room and feel a heightened sense of being a part of something both special and bizarre.
Glow is a continually transforming journey that resolves itself in its 30 minute running time. Chunky Move’s artistic director Gideon Obarzanek, who conceived and choreographed the project with Weiβ, have done well to create an exciting and fresh dance experience. It’s certainly abstract, but there are more than enough images that stimulate, provoke, repulse and attract. The performance feels complete and is a great (and rare!) example of the possibilities for dance and new media collaboration.
Venue: Chunky Move, Studio 1 | 111 Sturt Street, Southbank
Fri 12 – Sat 13 Oct at 6pm & 7pm
Sun 14 Oct at 4pm & 5pm
Tue 16 – Sat 20 Oct at 6pm & 7pm
Sun 21 Oct at 4pm & 5pm
Tue 23 – Sat 27 Oct at 6pm & 7pm
Tickets: Full $25/Conc $18
Bookings: Ticketmaster 1300 136 166 | www.melbournefestival.com.au