Proximity | Australian Dance TheatreLeft – Kimball Wong. Photo – Chris Herzfeld

Australian Dance Theatre is celebrating their 50th year in 2015. They have toured internationally, and are supported by South Australian Arts, and the Australia Council. Rightfully so, as this company’s new work, Proximity, is accomplished, fun, contemporary, oozes vitality and sensuality, exhibits rigorous, creative discipline and actively engages in conversation with the audience. The ensemble of dancers including; Zoe Dunwoodle, Scott Ewen, Amber Haines, Jessica Hesketh, Samantha Hines, Daniel Jaber, Kyle Page, Matte Roffe and Kimball Wong, under the directorial and conceptual leadership of Garry Stewart, present Proximity.

With the enhancement of visual beauty through live video manipulation by Thomas Pachoud, Proximity engages immediately with the voyeuristic nature of both human and camera, through the one thing we both share – a lens. In collaboration with Pachoud, Stewart says Proximity is a ‘nexus point between Held and Be Your Self’, his earlier works with ADT, exploring themes of the self and human relationship. Pachoud has created an ‘arcane language of algorithms and (Thomas has) spent several months creating a palette of sublime video effects that form the fundamental materials for Proximity’.

Proximity begins with us, the audience in view of a staring, turned-off camera, a large, black, sci-fi looking sculpture, on wheels, waiting for it to capture an image, and project it. The theatre is taken into darkness and a spotlight blares down onto the camera, with a laser-gun high-pitched sound, and then disappears. There is no silence from the ringing of the sound. This repeats at unpredictable intervals four times. Two dancers enter. Dressed in modern, Nike-like athletic wear, and taking the camera into their control, they present text embroidered into, like a dynamo labeler, their costumes. Here begins an exploration of communication using the body, adornment and contemporary constructs of fashion labeling.

Holding the text up to the camera, it projects onto three massive video panels that back the stage, providing the set. We read information from the dancers clothing on formation of pathways of perception through a neuroscientific, yet simplistic language. It is a duet of speaking that uses words, and bodies, that has a louder voice than that of the speaking directly to the audience. Sometimes, when dancers do this, there is a disengagement and disconnection from meaning in words. Speaking is not always an integrated tool of communication for the dancer whose primary voice is the body. The information is given to us, in a measured manner. This device immediately replicates our modern world. Information being fed from unknown yet trusted sources, at various intervals, packaged and presented by people we don't know, who often look beautiful.

The most striking choreography in Proximity comes from the interplay of hands, fingers and arms, wrists and facial expressions, in contrast with the live video manipulation of imagery directly, both past, present and a fourth, and even fifth dimensional space. Dancers become characters, paradoxical to themselves as they explore their perception of each other; self and patterns of behavior, filling the space via the screens with juxtaposing live choreographed interplay, happening simultaneously. There is an atmosphere of meditation and shared reflection. Conflict and struggle raise the complex question of distance in human relationships, doubt, questioning, boundaries and what it is to connect with someone. This contemporary, theatrical dance piece is seventy-minutes of visual and evocative physical discussion relating to human connectivity in proximity to each other, to self and to the world.

Australian Dance Theatre presents

Artistic Director Garry Stewart

Venue: Playhouse, Arts Centre. Melbourne.
Dates: August 15 – 18 August 2013
Tickets: from $55

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