A teasing hand beckons, a flirtatious wave of a diamond clad finger and you're hooked. Behind the heavy black curtain a woman in red waits patiently and the heady sounds of 1950's jazz fills the stage. For the next 51 minutes there is nothing in this world except the bodies that sway, flick and move with exceptional precision through the vintage inspired score. The free spinning jazz soundtrack is a perfect example of what choreographer and director Stephen Agisilaou has created with his latest production with company Vertical Shadows. On The Rocks is as perfectly danced and professionally turned out as anyone could expect, yet it retains it's freedom of movement. Nothing is forced, it is as if each plie has come intrinsically from the dancers themselves.
Elements of old school Bob Fosse take to the stage with flicks and kicks worthy of the great man himself and blend flawlessly with latin hips and classic contemporary. The mixed bag of inspiration Agisilaou has embraced only enhances the performance – strong beats, loud trumpets and semi-erotic vibe to the whole performance is as breathtaking as it is desirable. Performed by the exquisite Jessica Mortlock, she embraces her role as femme fatale with glee, relishing in her seductive prowess and seemingly insatiable appetite for young male flesh. Her greatest moment is her final wave goodbye and is a move that makes you either want her, or want to be her. Joined onstage by the Vertical Shadows boys, Jayden Hicks (who also served as creative associate) was once again the standout performer that drew the audiences attention and retained it for the entire performance. Hicks is difficult to look away from, his stage presence is one of the most commanding and his movement some of the most exceptional. Watching Hicks is like watching water, cool, fluid and effortlessly natural.
Agisilaou's choreography has a distinctive feminine look, yet put into the hands and bodies of his male dancers they make it entirely their own and perform a staunchly masculine interpretation. Perhaps the highlight of the evening is Sean Marcs, whose "bottle dance" is one of the most seductive pieces of choreography ever presented. If Coopers Brewery are ever at a loss on how to attract the female market, Marcs could show them a thing or two as he writhes with the bottle sexualizing the very concept of beer.
The inspirational and effortlessly unique creative minds and bodies behind Stephen Agisilaou's contemporary dance company Vertical Shadows have once again raised the barre in Australian contemporary dance. On The Rocks, is a powerful and moving performance exploring the very essence of human nature. This is more than simply "on the rocks", it is shaken, stirred and ultimately set on fire. These dancers burn with a creative intensity so bright it is impossible to tear yourself from their stunning portrayal of human emotion
Vertical Shadows presents
On The Rocks
Venue: Chapel off Chapel | 12 Little Chapel St, Prahran VIC
Dates: May 9 – 12, 2012
Tickets: $35 Full, $30 Concession (+ Transaction Fee)
On The Rocks | Vertical Shadows
- Heather Bloom