Image - Mike Hollingshead
Melbourne-based choreographer Lucy Guerin's new work about the weather and the human body's connection to its elemental forces is a highly evocative piece of work. It's a piece with a very instinctive feel to it that explores and pushes the boundaries of the human body. In this sense, Weather is a stunning showcase of some extremely talented dancers who perform with a beautifully understated intensity.
The clever use of repetition in Weather lulls you into a summer-like trance that can be suddenly broken when the set erupts around the dancers, or when the dancers themselves change pace with such velocity you're catapulted into an entirely different mood. A collective gasp from the audience at one such point is proof enough of the power of some of these transitions.
Despite the wonderful and fitting score by Oren Ambarchi and the breathtaking set design by Robert Cousins, Weather is all about the six bodies on stage. They are isobars that move about the space in waving lines. They are leaves in the wind. They are the wind itself. They are even gods amongst the clouds at times, so it seems. They are whatever they speak to you of, and they are completely mesmerizing.
Cousins' set includes a suspended ceiling of plastic bags that serves as both a visual feast and a symbol of the environment. The inclusion of pregnant dancer Harriet Ritchie in the ensemble is also a powerful reminder of what sort of world we are leaving for the next generation to inherit. To see a pregnant dancer on stage is a rarity and feels simultaneously precious and powerful, and is the perfect fit for this piece.
The only disappointment of Weather is the lighting design. It is used so brilliantly at the end of the piece that it felt underutilized for the previous hour. The suspended white plastic ceiling seems like the ideal canvas for a more innovative design.
Weather, co-commissioned by the Melbourne and Brisbane festivals and Place des Arts in Montreal, has some extraordinary moments. If the wind had a voice I'm pretty sure I heard it on Thursday night. The beautiful shapes and synchronicity of the dancers' bodies as they bend to inescapable forces will stay with you long after you leave the theatre.
Melbourne Festival, Lucy Guerin Inc and Malthouse Theatre in association with Brisbane Festival and Place des Arts
Director Lucy Guerin
Venue: The Malthouse, Merlyn Theatre | 113 Sturt Street, SOUTHBANK VIC
Dates: 18 - 21 Oct, 2012
Tickets: $58.00 - $25.00
Bookings: Malthouse (03) 9685 5111 | Ticketmaster 136 100