DocumentPhotos –  Rachel Roberts

Dancehouse, in Melbourne was pleased to welcome choreographer Sandra Parker back for an evening where the stage promised to explore an innovative understanding of narrative through movement.

Well one could say that the stage did move and with dancer Rebecca Jensen, a recent graduate from the VCA; Parker completely and honestly allowed us into the internal frustrations of the perfect dancer.

Document is justification of how a performance can combine realism that converts its very same dreams into expressionism in an instant; where our dreams are also reinvented.

'Can live performance ever be documented' is the idea Parker wanted to investigate in this form of life on stage. The memory required to recall the physical sensations of moving and what it means to the dancer and eventually to us, the audience.
Document became a performance which evolved quite quickly into the rehearsal room of these professionals: weavers of movement who would openly talk about what was wrong and what was right with each step. In this rehearsal we learnt the pains of the lonely dancer. We even witnessed the tedious secrets of an art form that projected itself both with real human frustration and the mechanical, technical means in which to achieve successful composition through movement. A backdrop of instructions which would insert the pressure and expectations placed on a dancer who needed to reach out and talk through this record, gave us much to look forward to.

Meyerhold, a Russian theatre practitioner in the early twentieth century, was one of the first people to use biomechanics on the stage. He wanted to turn his performers into mechanical beings; almost machines who would move to counting scores and scientifically transform emotional potential to express new thoughts and ideas and reflect on times gone by. Body and space, elasticity, biomechanics along with an occasional electrical surge, were what Parker achieved on the night. Via instructions, a 'document' ultimately liberated the actions of Rebecca Jensen, who in turn was able to represent the stop/start life of the stage with a nuance of struggle and with moments of reconciliation. The spotlights posed as challenges and constant ones at that; there was the invisible almost obsessive teacher at the core of the dancer's obvious tension. Some moments were unsettling – when you heard loud cello scores and heavy breathing, you felt as if a climactic proposal was about to end this story – but no, there was more exploration to fill the room.

Graphs and lines documented in the background and enough concentration on the stage kept us engaged with what was going on.

Collaborators – Jenny Hector and Rose Connors dance with the lighting; Rhian Hinkley, with the projection; Steven Heather and James Wilkinson, with the sound design and composition, contributing to the various ways of its development and realisation.

We were in the room and in the internal world of a dancer who wanted to please her teacher, but she also wanted to discover her human being with the aid of a 'document' that had been scribbled on, over and over again.

If you are interested in how dancers remember the steps to perform their narrative and how they translate their being with the aid of counting and exercises of inspiration – then this has to be a performance not to be missed. It's as intimate and raw as any rehearsal room has to be. It is as imperfect and as frustrating as any routine should be. Sandra Parker wanted to 'evoke the stage'. Well she prodded and poked and read out loud what the body speaks. When the lights went out we left the space, but not without taking something with us.

by Sandra Parker

Choreographer/Director Sandra Parker

Venue: Sylvia Staehli Theatre, Dancehouse |150 Princes Street, Carlton North
Dates: Wednesday 27 - Sunday 31 July
Times: Wed - Sat, 8pm; Sun, 5pm.
Tickets: $25 Full/$20 Conc/$15 Members
Bookings: 03 9347 2860

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