Left & Cover - The Counting. Photos by Belinda - www.dancephotography.net.au
Rogue is a dance collective of seven enthusiastic VCA School of Dance graduates who have been developing a body of repertoire together over the past few years. Their well-presented triple bill in Dance Massive is a cohesive and fun collection of works. A highly technical post-modern dance vocabulary underpins the choreography and each offering has its own unique mood and motivation. These dancers have worked with choreographers like Phillip Adams, Lucy Guerin and Gideon Obarzanek, among others, and the movement, full of thwacking legs, stretched fingers, quick weight changes and collapsing and reassembling limbs could fit into what has often been called the “Melbourne style.” It’s good to see Rogue taking these influences and carving out their own niche.
Byron Perry’s A Volume Problem opens with dancers tightly surrounding an astro-turf altar – an homage, of sorts, to the speaker and our hi-fi world. Concentrated blocks of light (nicely designed by Frog from Bluebottle 3) frame scrambling hands, arms, cords and colorful auditory equipment all of which is contained within this mini-space. Dancers wear industrial unisex clothes – grey button down shirts and slacks and are more a collective than individuals, but as the choreography opens out into trios that mirror each other – manic stretching of arms and intertwined limbs, the work takes on a more human feel. A Volume Problem walks that line between mechanical and organic, leaning more towards the former, but still with a distinct sense of the later.
The Counting by Antony Hamilton is a piece that Rogue has had in its repertoire for a few years and sits well on the company. In white tops and turquoise and orange pants the dancers sustains a frenzy of unison movement to the sounds of a metronome. It’s a flurry of continuous energy and quick body isolations interrupted with moments of freeze and counterpoint. Very much an ensemble work that relies on the performers being highly in tune with each other, it is simply about the body’s inherent rhythms and works purely on pulses and impulses. A piece like this could wear out its welcome rather quickly, but The Counting does not do this. While it has a distinct and steady pace, there is plenty of texture in it and enough interesting elements choreographically to sustain its duration.
Puck, created collaboratively by Rogue rounds off the night and carries the spirit of Merce Cunningham in its playful design and games of randomness. Doyle Barrow’s costumes, variations on cotton rompers, pants and tops, have sketches of faces on them and the clever set design of Anna Cordingley is a backdrop of large rectangular Perspex boxes filled with balls, toys and various colorful objects. While her peers repeat a complex movement phrase on stage, Sara Black walks through the audience as an ice cream seller, only instead of Cornettos, she hands out toys that squeak, whistle and ding. The dancers adjust their phrases depending on what sounds they hear coming out of the audience. It’s an exercise in randomness, audience involvement, and, as the program explains “seeks to draw out the meddlers among us.” Conceptually, it’s an idea that’s been around since the 60s but Rogue’s take feels fresh, mainly due to the quirky design of the work.
It’s never easy to keep a collective together and Rogue is no exception. With some members getting project work with larger dance companies and others doing various jobs to pay the bills, Rogue is just one of many foci for these keen young things. Hopefully the successful accomplishment of this triple bill is enough incentive to keep them going and push Rogue further. They have great potential and if they can continue to bring a wide range of choreographers into their fold while still taking the time to make some high-quality works of their own, they could easily carve out a significant space for themselves within the professional Australian dance community.
Rogue are Derrick Amantidis, Sara Black, Danielle Canavan, Holly Durant, Laura Levitus, Kathryn Newnham and Harriet Ritchie.
A Volume Problem, The Counting, Puck
Venue: Merlyn Theatre, C.U.B. Malthouse, 113 Sturt Street, Southbank
Dates: 11 - 15 March, Preview 11 March
Tickets: $20 - $30
Times: Wed - Fri 7.00pm, Sat 2.30 & 7.00pm, Sun 4.30pm