Berlin | Sydney Dance CompanyI had no idea what I was in for when I rushed to view Sydney Dance Company, and their production of Berlin last night. A last minute task for me, I didn’t research the production at all, something I usually do to inform myself. Little did I know that the soundtrack would be one that I had listened to over and over again throughout this year, without knowing I was listening to a ballet. Therefore, I was naturally excited when these tunes that I had gotten to know well, were not only part of the show, but part of something transcendent. This already incredibly soundtrack became something more loaded with the visual aspects and production elements.

The set and lighting designs were absolutely stunning. Gerard Manion not only created a highly functional set, but one of dignified ruin. Immediately the scene was established, and the boundaries set. This was only enhanced by the immaculate lighting design of Adrian Sterritt. Sterritt created beautiful imagery on stage with the falling wall, and the invisible firing squad.

Guest artist Iota joins Sydney Dance Company in creating a show essentially about the oppression and turmoil of Berlin and its historical and present character. Iota was phenomenal. For the majority of the show I wasn’t sure how anyone singing live could sound so pure and perfect. Especially when moving about as much as he did. His voice evoked so much emotion in me, and matched the theatrics not only of the production, but also the themes it embodied. It is rare that a singer in a show that is driven by a narrative, such as this, is really able to affect me. Iota’s voice is haunting, passionate, simple and embodied completely the soul needed for this show.

The Company were naturally impressive. I sat in awe at their physiques, at their stage presence and at their strong characterization. It was amazing to me how invisible some of the dancers were. That is, until certain dancers caught my eye, I wasn’t aware they existed in the show at all. The point of focus thus was always clear and splendidly complimented by a natural existence of the supporting characters. That is, when they were meant to be part of the background, they were. The flow of this production was flawless.

The Company were all strong in their characterization. Annabel Knight began the show with her striking presence, and complex identity. Which followed with a variety of different characters, some sad, some twisted, all grotesque and lovely in their own way. Some of the dancers weren’t as strong as others, however they were appropriately cast to ensure this didn’t affect things too drastically. All in all, they created a sense of history, and of a time stagnant, saddening and unforgettable. For me the brilliance of this piece was most recognizable in two particular dances. One was when Reed Luplau and Simon Turner danced to Sister Europe, the other was the company’s performance of Complicated Game. I wanted to jump out of my skin at these moments because with the combination of the music, the themes, and the dancing something great occurred.

Having a theatrical background, there were things about the artform itself that I didn’t understand, or appreciate. I found some of the symbolism to be a little too typical at times. However, this was forgiven with the intriguing and intricate choreography, and the sequencing of the show itself. Berlin transformed me to a frame of mind that both excited and saddened me. Life can be a complicated game but what Sydney Dance Company essentially did was present this game with beauty, respect and passion. I recommend people rush to see Berlin as it is a once in a lifetime experience. I feel privileged to have seen this show.

Sydney Dance Company presents

Venue: Playhouse | QPAC
Dates: 29 Nov to 8 Dec 2007
Times: Tue 4 Dec @ 6.30pm, Wed to Sat @ 7.30pm; matinee Sat @ 4.00pm
Duration: 1 hour, 15 minutes
Tickets: $32.00 - $60.00
Bookings: 136 246

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