It appears that the word Inuk is the plural of inuit, and is used to describe the indigenous inhabitants of the Arctic regions of Alaska, Greenland and Canada. Oral history is prized with elders being the key repositories of knowledge. Patriarchal divisions of labour are operative. Huskys and dog sleds are the common form of transportation and throat singing, or overtone singing, is popular amongst inuit women. Based on history, the ability of the inuit people to overcome the impossible is capacious.
Inuk2, performed by the Sydney Dance Company, examines the challenges of surviving as a human being. It has been marketed as the tribal dance for the 21st century. It is the ambitious project conceptualised and directed by the internationally acclaimed Meryl Tankard, well known for her spectacular choreographic contribution to the Sydney Olympic Games.
Its story is punctured with juxtapositions transcending between the theoretical and the practical, the pure and the destructive. In the first Act, the theories of evolution and natural selection are incorporated into an array of illusory, abstract and metaphoric movement sequences, which are inherently tribal. The tone of the second Act is more aggressive and the pace is faster. Whilst the tribal movement references remain, the breathy throat singing is superseded by funky and commercial musical compilations. The reference to time being the precursor for change is represented through the sounds of cars driving in the opening scene, by the ‘woman in the leather bra’ (Emee Dillon) running circular laps around ‘woman in the red dress’, who later changes into a black dress (Sarah Jayne Howard), and the road map painted onto the stage floor.
Every aspect of the expansive choreography pool incorporated into this work, from the Tinkerbell reminiscent contemporary ballet rendition of ‘woman in the blue dress’ (Annabel Knight), the gymnastic infused repertoire performed by ‘man in the kung fu boots’ (Chen Wen) to the repetitive physical overlapping in the emotive yet humorous duo by ‘tall man in the satin pants’ (Kalman Warhaft) and woman in the leopard skin (Teagan Lowe), was delivered masterfully and with an obvious degree of athleticism. Each of the 16 dancers truly owns the sentiment behind each gesture, making for a gripping overall effect.
Fastidious is the consideration for symmetry, shadows, illusion and the reference to water using lighting effects is stunning in the first half of the work. Varying imagery on the large canvas frame suspended on stage helps to depict the foreboding mood of the final Act. The clever, but unexpected, water inspired finale, which is performed by the dancers on a huge, orange, plastic mat wearing swapped costumes, is entertaining, cheeky and injects optimism.
No imaginative stone has been left unturned in this exceptional contemporary dance production. Inuk2 is penetrating, touching, and visionary.
Sydney Dance Company presents
Venue: The Arts Centre, Melbourne
Dates: May 28–31
Tickets: Premium $75, A Reserve $59/$53, B Reserve $48/$43
Bookings: The Arts Centre 1300 136 166 | www.ticketmaster.com.au