Dance is at times a delicate art form. A dance performance creates a physical environment, taking away the key signifiers of meaning, that is verbal language, and replacing words with something infinitely more abstract and elusive. Viewing dance is an inherently active experience as every movement is interpreted and deciphered. The introduction of language into the form has the potential to overwhelm the physicality, taking central focus and preventing the viewer from working to read meaning.
Several choreographers and performers use the tension between dance and verbal language as the key to their practice. One such artist is Lily Kiara, an Amsterdam based dancer and musician. Her solo work Moving South, intertwines dance, poetry and song and is an Australian premiere, presented at Dancehouse.
A lone, willowy figure, Kiara begins the performance by exploring her environment. Fragments of text and single words seem to indicate that Kiara is traversing an interior landscape, using visualisation to create movement vocabulary. The deconstructed language is reflected in the physical repertoire. The dance is small and idiosyncratic, at times frenetic but the angle of a head, a gesture or a well timed sidelong glance at the audience allowing access to what is at times a very insular and internally focused performance.
Kiara possesses an angular physicality and seemed at odds with her surroundings, as if unable to fit anywhere, even inside her own body. The semi-improvised movement portrays images of an inherent loneliness, a sense of longing and a search for something. Perhaps meaning is to be found in the title of the work, Moving South. As the performance progressed, there was a kind of shift from a place of confusion and uncertainty towards understanding, acceptance and clarity.
The performance served as an abstract portrait of the artist and was at times, quite personal. Childlike images were scattered through the work, a game of make believe, a chair that was slightly too small, a pair of large clumpy shoes. Kiara herself moved between portrayals of vulnerability and strength indicating a journey, a gathering of knowledge and experience.
Kiara proves herself an able musician as original songs are interspersed throughout the piece. This was the most accessible part of the performance as Kiara was open to the audience and performing in a presentational manner. Though it did allow the audience space to sit back and passively receive the words and their literal meanings, which were at times, running the risk of being overly didactic.
However, Lily Kiara’s voice and body filled the vast, dark space in a hauntingly beautiful way, adding layers of delicate ambience to what was, on the whole, a gentle, intimate and softly textured work.
Venue: Dancehouse | 150 Princes St, North Carlton
Dates/Times: 5 & 6 Dec 2008 @ 8:00pm
Tickets: Online Tickets $18/$12 | Phone/Door Tickets $20/$15