Left – James Batchelor, Marlo Benjamin, Sarah Ronnie Bruce, Tara Jade Samaya, Niharika Senapati, Luigi Vescio. Cover – Niharika Senapati. Photos – Pippa Samaya
I have no idea how this review is going to go. I'm a words-and-story guy – how do you review something that has no words and no story?
Bottom line, right here at the top: Yeah wow, amazing. A dream-like, surreal esoteric poem, but visually and aurally mesmerising.
The intro to this latest of Australia's most accomplished contemporary dance companies, Chunky Move, is (like this reviewer) slow and moody. Just when you get to the point of thinking if the whole hour and a bit is like this I might have to go, things start to happen. The pace changes and all the quite dazzling elements come into play and it just has your attention for the duration. You kind of get lost in this sensory assault that is at times slow, at other times charged and upbeat. Even the quiet sections, however, are quietly thrilling.
The performance is based around the concept of clouds and gravity. The dormant props scattered around the stage are intriguing and all come into inventive play. The smoke machines produce some wonderful clouds indeed, and the performers themselves occupy the stage as individuals at times coming together like water molecules combining to form clouds. There is always something going on on some part of the stage, some little vignette being enacted, bodies fluidly expressing some idea, some essence of the elements. The mood is by turns primal, tribal, communal, surreal. Individually, each performer does something amazing, but when they come together as a larger entity, the trust and teamwork on display... it just makes you smile with admiration.
All six dancers are such a joy to watch. Their movements are explorations of how far the body can go. The movements are angular, smooth, sensual, elegant, flowing, rhythmic. We – mostly in our rigid bodies – see bodies all day long but never really see them reaching for their full potential, this physical exploration, and that's why this is such a visual feast. These six performers are our physical potential realised. And it's magical stuff.
The sound system in The Merlyn has always been an impressive beast and it is used here to wonderful effect. The sound – humming, pulsing, beating – comes from all around and is a thrill in itself. This is an all-round, wonderful production.
It's a short season. Life is short. Treat yourself. Go see Anti-Gravity before it vanishes, cloud-like, into the Goddamnit I missed it.
Malthouse Theatre and Chunky Move in association with Asia TOPA: Asia-Pacific Triennial of Performing Arts and Dance Massive present
Director Anouk van Dijk
Venue: Merlyn Theatre, The Coopers Malthouse | 113 Sturt Street, Southbank VIC
Dates: 17 – 26 March
Tickets: $45 – $30