With the distinctly athletic discipline and sharp choreography that mark the work of the Sydney Dance Company, 2 One Another is full of moments that seem superhuman, transcending the potential of mere mortals.
Starting from a premise of examining human relationships, in pairs (2), alone (One) and the group (Another), putting a poetic twist on it and then feeding it through the further abstracting lens of Raphael Bonachela’s eye-grabbing choreography leads to a work where the medium becomes the message, where it doesn’t matter what is being “said” so much as losing one’s self in admiration for how it’s being expressed.
Opening with a group tableau, Benjamin Cisterne starts the lighting design by playing with shadow and the pixelated backdrop in a very low-key way, complementing Nick Wales’ hushed soundscape, where it seems possible to hear the exhalation of breath as the dancers, in perfect unity, roll and drop their shoulders. Movement increases as the sound builds up with new layers, some performers frozen still to accentuate the explosive movements of the others. Muscles ripple under the sheer leotards designed by Tony Assness and impassive faces give nothing away, no gasps for breath as these exquisitely fit artists redefine the limits of possibility of human movement.
It was difficult to pick any one dancer as particularly outstanding – the choreography highlighted the breadth and depth of talent, with group sets composed of moves expected in solo and pairs work, and each and every performer matching the pace, height, angle, timing and distance required. Having said that, some group and solo work was particularly impressive. Considering that this performance was all about dance for the sake of technically perfect, physically awe-inspiring movement, the glimpse of a slight narrative arc in the brother-like conflict between Andrew Crawford and Paul Knobloch was both incredibly well-done and grabbed attention. The two tall forms demonstrated strength, agility and physical restraint as they developed the theme of conflict and resolution.
Further pairs work impressed, as a group worked through perfectly synchronised duets, tumbling, entwining body parts and lifting each other with ease. The most impressive part of this group work was that while most pairs were male-female, the female-female pairs matched every movement, no matter how rapidly-paced or physically demanding… and then none of the performers seemed to pause for breath, let alone break a sweat.
A pause with most dancers lined in seated poses across the front of the stage seemed like a natural ending, and the initial poses were captivating in their sudden relaxed stillness. However the change in position and lighting only signalled a change of costume and possibly a subtly more human, less mechanistic style of movement in a series of pieces that acted as a coda to the main, driven part of the show. The change to red costumes that were loosely draped around the dancers’ torsos meant a loss of display of the tightly controlled movement and strength that marked so much of the first part, also losing some of the compelling quality with it.
A performance to introduce anyone to the magic of the best contemporary dance – superlative in every way, a highly stylised demonstration of the physical and artistic excellence to be aspired to within the form, 2 One Another is a feast for the eyes.
Perth Theatre Trust and His Majesty’s Theatre present
2 One Another
Sydney Dance Company
Choreography Raphael Bonachela
Venue: His Majesty’s Theatre, Perth
Dates: 18 – 21 June 2014
Tickets: $45 – $65
Bookings: 1300 795 012 | www.ticketek.com.au