There’s been much anticipation surrounding Co3 (WA’s new flagship contemporary dance company’s) second season of re:Loaded, coming hot on the heels of a debut which wowed critics and audiences late last year. The author of this hype: artistic director Raewyn Hill (best known for her work with Australian Dance Theatre) who has proved that under her direction, the future of Australian dance looks pretty good.
First in the triptych of performances is Larissa McGowan’s Transducer, a dark, visceral piece which relies on intense physicality and an emotional depth which each of the dancers managed to generate in spades. The curtains rise on six spandex-clad dancers huddled in a corner, their backs facing the audience, bodies slowly fanning out, convulsing and shot through with electrical impulses. What is fascinating about this work is the juxtaposition of the human and the mechanized – the dancers are robotic but evince such an intensity of emotion that it becomes an almost difficult (albeit compelling) piece to watch. Dancer Katherine Gurr is particularly magnificent throughout, exhibiting admirable stamina in an epileptic fit-inducing finale.
Gavin Webber’s What’s Left (which according to the programme is inspired by Naomi Klein’s climate-change book This Changes Everything) opens on dancer Talitha Maslin, arms outstretched, waving to an unknown entity – first calmly, then hopefully, then desperately, limbs flailing. The performance is particularly affecting, effectively portraying the sense of desperation and fear which comes to characterise the piece as a whole. Zachary Lopez and Guest artist Alicia Hinde enter and proceed to battle with each other amid a stage full of precariously placed cylinders, eventually drawing a reluctant Maslin into their fight.
Raewyn Hill’s Carnivale, true to its namesake, is a spirited and uplifting work, full of energetic moves and rousing music. Nine dancers performing in unison move their way through what must have been a harrowing and patience-testing process to perfect. The work calls for unrelenting stamina as the artists (led by an indefatigable Hinde) move through a range of energetic lunges, rolls and spins.The flowing black costumes, each with their own particular twist, are particularly effective here, mimicking the grace of the dancers as it shadows their every move.
As we moved out of the auditorium, audience members were ushered into the theatre courtyard for a musical treat in the form of Brisbane born musician and artist Ben Ely (best known for his work with Brisbane indie/alternative rock band Regurgitator). It was a perfect end to the night, Ely playing songs from his upcoming solo album, Goodbye Machine.
Contemporary dance isn’t to everyone’s taste, but Co3 has managed to succeed where many others fail by making it accessible to audience members who aren’t in the industry or are watching contemporary dance for the first time. While re:Loaded might at times be difficult to watch due to its heavy themes, it is well worth a viewing, and speaks to the enormous talent of the WA contemporary dance scene.
Venue: Heath Ledger Theatre, State Theatre Centre WA
Dates: 16 – 19 March 2016
Tickets: $45 – 78