Tag Archives: Performance Space

The Critic #01 (The Lifted Brow 22)

Screen_Shot_2014-04-17_at_4.37.54PM_1024x1024

This text was first published in April-May 2014, in The Lifted Brow 22.

1. IN WHICH EPISTEMOLOGY IS DISCUSSED

The Critic always saw theatre from the first-person point of view, because there was no other way. Perhaps because, as a woman, she never felt she was able to assume the universal point of view. The idea of it – that she could see the world unmarred by who she was – felt impossible. The Critic saw beautiful, young women on stage, often in various states of undress, and could see that these were erotic stage images, but not for her. She saw hysterical women, men who would sooner commit suicide than admit an error, she saw manly banter and regret, she saw many things the meaning of which she knew, but did not feel. Theatre being theatre, she also saw many extremely rich people treat servants or people of colour badly, while they themselves revelled in relatively trivial problems, and sometimes thought about how those servants or people of colour represented her ancestors more than the protagonists, how the story of her people was only ever told on the margins. The Critic, in other words, always knew that the theatre was not meant for her, that her eyes were not the bull’s eye of the audience target, even when the message arrived. Even when she was greatly moved.

Why did the Critic like theatre, then? Why did she make it her life to see theatre three, four, five, sometimes even ten times a week, if she felt like an intruder? Because the Critic, like many – perhaps most – women, felt like an intruder in most discursive social situations already, and had become accustomed to feeling like she was sitting slightly to the left and down in the audience – a feeling that did not disappear in those prestigious, central seats. Sometimes she was elated, or crushed, sometimes her life changed while sitting in those seats; but it was an expected gift, because she had not been the target audience, because the magic that was done on her was done almost by accident.

It is said that privilege is marked by assuming that your views are representative of everyone’s. Speaking with various male critics after shows, ready to judge always slightly faster, the Critic often asked: “Why are you so sure that your opinion is the right one?” It was a strange question to many. “I know what I like,” they sometimes answered, tautology imperceptible to them.

“But you aren’t everyone”, the Critic might offer, uselessly, because in a certain sense they were everyone: they were the bull’s eye, the eye that mattered, the eye to which the art was offered. Oh, the Critic was able to pontificate with the best, argue her opinions, be sometimes insistently praising, sometimes cruelly harsh, but it was qualified intellectual bravado, always aware of where fact ended and personal opinion began.

It was with great relief that the Critic found Nataša Govedić, European dramaturg and performance critic, writing: “I think that the critic-as-a-simple-observer has never existed. The critic is always biased, has always held values, ideology if you prefer – and there doesn’t exist, not has ever existed, a neutral critic. Therefore, it is only fair to honestly admit which values we uphold, and why we believe in certain processes, and why we participiate in them.”

It is paradoxical, then, that the Critic had studiously avoided having opinions on supposedly ‘minority’ arts, such as Melbourne’s Midsumma Festival of LGBT arts, considering it and her mismatched. They were, of course, but less than feared. The queer audience arrived to the theatres with the same layered thinking, palpably so – everywhere around her the Critic could feel a suspicious, reserved energy of distantiation, of mistrust. ‘Is this work going to hurt me, or will it finally say something I can agree with?’ To the extent to which the audience mood can read, this is what the Midsumma audience seemed to be saying. Continue reading “The Critic #01 (The Lifted Brow 22)” »

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

It has arrived: a review in pictures (The Lifted Brow)

The postman brought it on Saturday.

2014-05-05-10.41.42-2

It is colourful.

2014-05-05-10.43.08-2

It has beautiful design.

2014-05-05-10.44.05-2

And me inside!

2014-05-05-10.43.10-2

It’s printed on paper (paper!).

2014-05-05-10.43.15-2

It folds in the middle (folds!).

2014-05-05-10.43.17-2

It’s a column.

2014-05-05-10.43.22-2

A regular column.

2014-05-05-10.43.30-2

On theatre.

2014-05-05-10.43.42-2

And life.

2014-05-05-10.43.32-2

On theatre and life. And love, and sex, and friendship, and everything around theatre.

2014-05-05-10.43.53-2

I am so proud.

Tagged , , , , , , ,

RW: Run

De Quincey Co.’s Run might have sat better with me had I seen it after a few cups of coffee. I greatly enjoyed De Quincey’s Triptych, her last work and the only I had seen until now, but even then one could observe the heavy burden of Friday evening fatigue. That Friday, I was perky and alert to the fine-grained, yet plunging, choreography of this Body Weather company, its careful investigation of movement in context (of sound, of space, of other movement), the weaving of invisible lines of energy, such intangibles. I was riveted; yet many around me struggled to stay awake.

This Friday, it was my turn to struggle. Run is presented as a “6-ton dramaturgy”, “an exploration of time and motion”, constructed “physical ecology”. Pieces of CarriageWorks, adding up to the said 6 tons, are suspended at different heights on the spacious stage, while four dancers mingle around them, interacting with the hanging steel. It would be easy to simplify what goes on: the combination of body and rusting steel, complemented with monochrome video and the most stupenduous sound (on which more later), is always as intriguing as impossible to explain properly: the interest is in the visual composition, and in the contrast between movement (stuttered, fluid or iterative) and stillness. It has definite moments of conjunction with Wayne McGregor’s Entity: both were interested in the mathematics of motion, and both drew on Eadweard Muybridge’s photographic work. Both are intellectual, rather than felt, dances.

The problem with Run, as I have hinted at earlier, is that it appears to have no heart. While each point of interest is valid in itself, Run is a game of contrasts and echos, not of building blocks. Every element looks and feels like a decoration to another, and this cycle of adjectives never settles on a noun. After two cups of coffee, I imagine I might have indulged in observing the invisible lines of energy, friction between the overwhelming steel and the fragile body, and other details that kept me enthralled during Triptych. Slightly worn out after a long week, my attention wandered wildly. Probably the most engaging element was the sound, and also the best-defined: sitting on the floor downstage, a man (I presume Jim Denley, the sound designer, himself) makes scratchy, echoey noises out of paper, magnets, a couple of microphones on string, and an odd assortment of rubbish. His precarious aural constructions are built in the same spirit as the rest of the performance, out of friction and contrast, but it is the thickest, densest part. The rest of Run is an infinitely subtle, often shapeless construct, something like origami made with toilet paper, which in itself, however, doesn’t necessarily hold all 6 tons of dramaturgy together.

It is notable that such a subtle piece would manage to create a couple of greatly irritating moments: the use of voice (mashing up Wittgenstein and Anne Carson into gibberish), which reminded me of Chris Boyd’s assertion that nine out of ten dance pieces will be ruined by the employment of words. We’ve always disagreed on that point (I like my dancers as speaking, thinking beings), but this evening I honestly hoped they would just shut up. I believe, sadly, that the key point is in ‘thinking’. The other happened incrementally, halfway through the performance, when it suddenly became clear that the steel pieces of CarriageWorks on stage were an object of endless fascination, rather than a starting point to the discussion. There is, Freud would tell you, something irritating about listening to other people’s dreams. While we can talk about our own endlessly, other people’s dreams are unpleasant, boring things. Why is that so? Because dreams are woven out of sheer, pure narcissism, a self turned on itself and revelling. Run at points looked like a child who had never seen a piece of steel before; and when people call things ‘indulgent’ or ‘pretentious’, what they mean, I imagine, is this very feeling of irritation at a work of art that has no interest in the dreams of the audience. (I would suspect that, for a work of art to be considered very good, a process of seduction needs to occur, a sweet-talking of the audience into fascinations and compulsions explored, until it mistakes them for its own.) After a good half-hour in the CarriageWorks foyer, the most exciting architectural thing in Sydney (many times more of a lived, exploding space than the Opera House), all brilliantly brutal industrial design and voids, pockets of air, so big you almost feel them poking the god in the eye, it is a dramaturgical mistake of unseemly proportions to suspend a few tons of steel in a smaller pocket and expect the audience to wonder ad infinitum, even the artist honestly does.

Muybridge or not, pretty monochromes or not, I had not been sweet-talked. I was, instead, looking at another person’s dream and growing ever more bored. By which I mean, naricissistically wounded, as Freud would probably say.

Run, by De Quincey Co. DIRECTION/CHOREOGRAPHY: Tess de Quincey PERFORMERS: Tom Davies, Peter Fraser, Victoria Hunt, Linda Luke MEDIA INSTALLATION: John Tonkin SCULPTURAL INSTALLATION: Garnett Brownbill LIGHTING DESIGN: Travis Hodgson SOUND: Jim Denley VIDEO ARTIST: Emmanuela Prigioni PRODUCTION MANAGER: Bernie Regan. PERFORMANCE SPACE, 20 – 29 August.

Tagged

This week / reporting from the trenches

I sometimes forget that this is a blog; that I could indeed post photos of my feet were I so inclined. In the last weeks, GS has come to seem more like a monster-chore, up there with Film Production, Graphic Design, Liaising, Dinner Parties, Dance Writing. For these have sapped all energy out of me, exactly the way I had promised myself not to allow happen.

What has been going on? Dance Massive, an exercise in condensing the rather maverick diversity of movers and shakers in the city (and somewhat beyond) into two weeks. Just the right size, I say, and a report is on its way.

Arts House has returned to its rather excellent programming: after a season in Sydney, down come Hoipolloi with their fantastic show Floating. Its brilliance lies not quite in its deconstructive tendencies (that refusal to play by the rules), nor in its interest in stand-up comedy (a la Fondue Set), but rather in its playful approach to time and semiotics. I am a humourless grump prone to outbursts of rash whenever marriages of formal deconstruction and induced laughter are attempted in front of me – no soft spot whatsoever – but I loved Floating like I rarely love a performance. On until this Sunday.

Opening on Wednesday, same Arts House, same high expectations, My Darling Patricia return from Sydney with Night Garden. If you remember their excellent Politely Savage in Fringetime ’06, you are, like me, expecting a lyrical, moody, formally inventive inquiry into the Australian social mythology. Great word of mouth is preceding them.

Down at the VCA, Paul Monaghan will be opening some Strindberg (A Dream Play), and Daniel Schlusser rebuilding Peer Gynt from scratch in a little over a week. Both are opening on Thursday 26, details here.

I cannot quite put in words how exhausted I am. My brain is fried from all the writing I have been doing, a tangle of knots the only thing keeping my head up. In the act of final betrayal, my mind decided, amidst reports, print formatting, and evocative descriptions of dance (all today), to boycott the fine sieve I was trying to push it through, and switch to fiction. No extra points for creativity.

Finally, a small announcement. In 2009, I will be making a special effort to see as much hybrid art and performance as this city can muster, and my time give in to. Apart from the fact that not-quite is my favourite kind of perfomance (the mind is a melange, just like these unpinpointable brainstorms of dance, music, dialogue, image), I am also sitting on the Green Room Alternative & Hybrid Theatre Panel. So please keep me informed of all those site-specific, upside-down, one-audience-member-at-a-time, multimedia, weird-arse, and other such shows happening around. Just in case. I spend up to 10 nights a week in the theatre, but lovely events still fall through the cracks, behind the desk, together with the lost pens and forgotten dirty laundry.

On that note, I retreat back to the trenches with a salut from C. de la B:


Marina Comparato performing Voi che sapete (Mozart), in Wolf, dir. Alain Platel.

Tagged , , ,

Review: Nomads

Nomads, part three in an ongoing project that started in Sydney in 2006, by Hans Van den Broeck plus dancers, is exactly the sort of theatre I love, the reason why I endure hours and hours of pretty dancing, of actorly acting, of witty dialogue and realistic set design. Every time I go through a door into a dark space with seats, I hope to see something close to Nomads. It is not the most pleasant theatre. It is, I imagine, tremendously frustrating to many. It is, first, not the kind of theatre that showcases skill: any theatre practitioner – and most theatre-goers, unfortunately, are also theatre-makers – will likely be underwhelmed. It is also not theatre that makes one feel anything much, which will inevitably frustrate any casual audience member. It doesn't tell a story, has no plot, makes no effort to lead the spectator, step by step, into a journey, the logic of each scene, or the sequence thereof, is never explained. It has all the predispositions to be labeled self-indulgent.

But. Just because this type of theatre-making, shall we call it European (although a particular kind of European, it is also not something normally found elsewhere), is not a common type of theatre-making in Australia, doesn't mean we should shun it as opaque et cetera. In fact, let me tell you how we could approach it. We could approach it like a sonata, or an early Renaissance triptych. It is certainly no more than a historical accident that we approach theatre like we approach the pilot episode of a sit-com? With minimal intellectual engagement, and infinite impatience? What if we approach it with an open mind instead, actively thinking our way through, with patience and willingness to adapt our sense of time? What if we are ready to wait, let the theatre take its time to show and tell, ready to do our own bit of work, ready to think?

Hans Van den Broeck, a psychologist by training, may be best known as one of the founding member of Les Ballets C. de la B., a freeform collective of dance extraordinaire. The overriding logic behind the project really appears to be the exploration of the relationship between Hans and the dancers, and his working methodology. At the heart of Settlement, the second stage, just like Nomads, was the very concentrated rehearsal time, two weeks with an assembled group of people, based on a strong concept, and a detailed scenario constructed beforehand. The resulting work is understood as finished, not a work-in-progress. Not unlike a real society, it is the free-form collaboration with an open, complex reality that emerges.

Settlement. Sydney, 2007.

I saw Settlement in Vienna. (To read more about the development, check Frances D'Ath's blogging on the creative process, straight from July 08.) The two performances behave according to a very similar logic, are directly comparable in the questions they ask, and the answers they offer. Both follow very literally the type of coexistence they inquire into, and, while similar, come to very different conclusions. I should have expected: settlers, nomads. While Settlement was a stationary community, a third of the space covered with tents, a brook running past, Nomads follows the performers as they sit down and leave again, sit down and leave; the first was all clogged energetic pores, the second is airy and forgetful. Both shows take the community of dancers, performers, through some typical activities: travelling, sitting down, eating, socialising, entertainment, violence, trauma management. They have some similar preoccupations: both begin with a figure of the outsider joining the group, but while Settlement closes with the outsider still largely isolated from the group, he blends in with the nomads quite quickly. Altogether, Nomads is a much more positive show (although this may be a simplistic way of putting it). It reminds us that the things we have inherited from the millennia of hunting and gathering are the pursuit of ecstasy and the ability to forget. Settlement, instead, dwelled upon the structures that bind us together.

We must not lie for the sake of others
We must respect the loneliness of others
We must combine our thoughts
We only take as much as we can use at any one time
We must look people in the eye at least once every day
We must try to laugh at least once a day
We must say audible things to one that all may share
We can contest a rule if it interferes with our sense of liberty
We should try to wear our pants inside out and back to front
We can take a nap in somebody else’s tent if the tent flap is open
We must be at first considerate
You must have your brush in hand before entering the kitchen area

-excerpt from the Settlement rulebook

I found it a little jejune, comparatively speaking, although this may be a reflection on my personal history. Coming from a federation that fell apart and into a civil war, I grew up in an artistic environment endlessly preoccupied with dissecting the fundaments of society. If there has been an idée fixe in post-Yugoslav art, it has been the question of neighbours turning against one another; the real tangibility of the threads that bind us together; the dubious stability of peace, of order; the illusory harmony of cohabitation. Settlement, in this context, merely scratched the surface of real life.

Nomads opens with performers, ragged up and saddled with boxes, milk crates, backpacks, pacing in a circle. One of them has a small child on her back, which will be discarded before the beginning of the show. From then on, a series of scenes plays out, in the big space of Carriageworks's Bay 8, on the sand, with projections covering one or two walls, and an intermittent soundscape piercing the big space made entirely of concrete, sand and light. There is no strong link between the scenes, no meaning spelled out, just the endless, prolonged, trickling continuty of people and space. It is not theatre for the easily bored and, while aesthetically pleasing, it is poles away from spectacle. It is theatre that lets the mind wander.

While there are no weak scenes in the 90 minutes of Nomads, some stand out as exceptionally potent. Once the walking circle has broken into a chain reaction of simple movements, a collective dance that the wandering outsider can join in, a makeshift settlement is established. Like a vulture, a peddler appears, offering Con-fession! Con-fession!, setting up his trolley with a microphone, a dividing screen, and a blinding light. One has sinned because she has stolen, food, clothes, thoughts and dreams. Return the box, he tells her. Nomads are not allowed to hoard. Another one falls in love with the priest. Visibly disconcerted, he tells her that there is a sacred vow, and leaves. Nikki Heywood, curious, takes his place. She too leaves after a story of a man who doesn't get laid, unable to work around the experience. While there is nothing more to this sequence, the travelling shrink packs up and leaves, there is an entire essay in it on the exclusion of professions from quotidian life, on the need to distance those who filter the detritus of normality. From executioners, entertainers and fortune-tellers to the burakumin.

The nomads turn the performance into a fashion show, with a moment of obvious analogy with Settlement: people exchanging clothes, again and again and again. There is homogenisation within the group, but also joyous collectivity, in this long dress-up-and-down. At the same time, with pictures projected on the wall, and the role-playing of the catwalk costuming, with nomads, gypsies, witches and cowboys impersonated, it is a bit of a satire on role-playing. It energises the audience, and it takes a bit of effort to calm down afterwards, continue with the slowness that's so characteristic of the show.

Nomads.

While Settlement had little to say on intimacy, or private life of others (whatever happened, happened inside the tents), Nomads gives a long thought to sleep, with long chains of hugging, on one hip, then the other. The chain is broken and remade as the group turns upside down, left to right, sits and shifts in discomfort. There is a need for comfort and a need for space that are clashing within this scene, like they clash when one shares a bed with another person, that exist on stage as presence, not representation. And then, the performance mutates into one of the most curious, most enigmatic parts of Nomads: a woman lies on the mattress. Within moments, other members of the community shake her off, and a careful, consensual battle for the mattress begins. With the music getting louder and louder, people push and pull the mattress in different directions, jumping on it, sneaking a few minutes of lying down, before they're shaken off by others, who don't necessarily try to steal it for themselves, just limit the time anyone gets on.

At the time, I was absolutely intent on reading it as an illustration of drug-bound communities. Managing the mattress, limiting everyone's time to minimal, seemed to be a perfect illustration of, say, acid-dropping circles, keeping in check by not allowing anyone, not even oneself, too much time unaccountable. Now, however, as I'm thinking about it more, it also appears to be a simple principle of managing commons, a scarcity. At the same time, the spinning blanket dervishes remind us that the pursuit of ectasy, trance, is something we have inherited from our nomadic past, and that major religions have sprung up in the desert for a reason. The scene closes with Lizzie Thomson, held up high on a mattress by everyone else, drawing a red door in the projected desert landscape, and knocking (it's a loud, miked knock). Joe, let me out!, she says. I'm ready! Joe, if you let me out, I'll let you in!

In the immediate aftermath, the performers, drenched in loud, energetic music, yet visibly exhausted, turn to walking into a wall. It seems clear that they're chasing a flickering projection, which disappears before they can come close, and it also seems clear that the music is meant to invigorate them, make them persist, rather than illustrate the mood. There is not a tremendous deal of conviction in the way they hit the wall, again and again. What makes it more poignant, however, is the shift that happens as they start leaving things. They walk into the wall with flowers, and leave the crushed flowers by the wall. Chair, leave. Water bottle, leave. Like the road shrines to the victims of car accidents, like the flowers left for victims of suicide bombers, so are these little souvenirs to violence, martyrdom, scattered by the wall.

I will not disclose the ending, strangely funny and unexpectedly beautiful, although I could keep rambling on each long scene in this magnificent performance. There is a lot in a show like Nomads, and any attempt to analyse, I feel, kills the magnificent, slow and mature vagueness with which it paints images on those enormous, concrete walls. It is very airy theatre, of the kind that can really disorientate, confuse and frustrate the audience member that wants to be touched or entertained. It is not immersive, with the music video logic, like much of the home-grown non-narrative theatre. It is quietly visual, slow and uneventful, and pleases mainly to the extent to which one can fill the evening with thought. There is an echo of Brecht here: a thinking and smoking spectator, where smoking was precisely the a sign of dispassionate contemplation. But it is also Wilsonian, perhaps: intermissions at your discretion without the signposting. It is worth suspending your expectations, and allowing yourself the discursive and observational freedom normally reserved for classical music or a modernist novel, and just let the images, concepts and stories wash over you, before deciding what it means.

Nomads. Directed by Hans Van den Broeck. Performers/collaborators: Kathy Cogill, Nikki Heywood, Rowan Marchingo, Tony Osborne, Lizzie Thomson, Vicki van Hout, Nalina Wait, Anuschka van Oppen, Joe Jurd. Video design Sam James. Sound design James Brown. Lighting design Sydney Bouhaniche. Project convenors Nikki Heywood and Rowan Marchingo. Production manager Jenn Blake. Residency showing at Performance Space, Sydney, 27 – 29 November 2008.

Tagged , ,

Triptych

The beautiful, enormous space of Carriageworks – probably at least half the size of the Venice Arsenale – is a good place to think about the relationship between body and space. It is a semi-reconstructed, semi-abandoned train shed, a glass and iron enclosure of large volumes of air, with narrow but tall corridors, with sprinkles of soft benches, chairs, on the concrete floor, a space as impressive, in its effect on the mind, as any intentionally good architecture – as pleasant to wander around as that opera house. Sivan Gabrielovich mentioned being in the outback, experiencing for the first time the enormity of Australia, and feeling bare, lost, foreign, and unable to hide to herself. Nothing casting a shadow. I have often, returning to the Kvarner Bay after long periods overseas, felt the immediate realignment between my physical existence and the dynamics of the relief: the regular rhythm of the hills, the safe mutability of the sea, the enclosure of the islands all around.

The philosophical background to Bodyweather likewise – the acceptance of being a part of the world, and not a constant confrontation with it, is what has driven Far-Eastern thought strongly towards understanding applied arts and everyday practices as spiritual pursuits, perfecting the tea ceremony and work ethics just like the Western thought has engaged in still life painting, biochemistry and walking on the moon. As Okakura says, in The Book of Tea, “The art of life is in constant and repeated adapatation to our surroundings.”

Bodyweather is a comprehensive training and performance practice, developed by Min Tanaka, a butoh dancer and choreographer, and his Mai-Juku Performance Company, exploring the intersection of body and environment. Body is conceived not as a fixed, separate entity, but as a constantly changing, permeable element in the order of things, responding to the processes inside and outside the body. Like the weather. Strength is drawn from the acceptance of its fragile finiteness. As a former member of Mai-Juku, from 1985 to 1991, Tess De Quincey introduced Bodyweather to Australia in 1988, before establishing De Quincey Co. in 2000. She has since engendered a strong teaching and performance practice, and developed different projects, the most fascinating of which must be the Triple Alice Laboratories, which explored the landscape of the Central Desert of Australia, bringing together an interdisciplinary group of artists and scientists, indigenous and non-indigenous, in situ.

This is another dance tribe, and one that, I am told, has historically focused around Performance Space, which is one institution Melbourne could really envy Sydney for. A very precious, very valuable organisation, presenting a curated program of contemporary hybrid performance, linking theatre with dance, film, visual arts and new media, and creating a profile for the new, it is the kind of kick that Australian performance needs badly, and doesn't get with any sustained effort.

Triptych is a performance that moves its audience around, arranges our limbs, with the patience of water. It opens up and closes like an accordion book. It lets us find our space along a long wall with no seating provided, and then, changing the configuration of space with moving screens, gently forces us to disperse, assemble, locate a bench or lie on the ground. It's a slow, deep experience, demanding patience and engagement. It affects internally, through the stomach.

It opens with Peter Fraser, later joined by Lizzie Thomson, their movement slowly overloading with the stimulus of three enormous screens projecting cherry branches quivering in the wind. The performance slowly builds up the initial pink prettiness of cherry blossom into a paralyzing experience of over-abundant stimulation, as Fraser tries to fly and collapses. Using the incessant repetitive accumulation of sound and image as soft as a murmur, it becomes the overwhelming nothingness of a full, dense void. The excess of colour, of movement, of the three screens build up into abstract buzz – and this dissolution of cherry blossom into pure stimulation is the last instance of figuration we will see tonight.

The next configuration of screens, Fraser and Thomson now accompanied by Victoria Hunt and Linda Luke, shows the body responding to the electric buzz: information, digital impulses, electricity, with the body near-paralyzed, unable to create coherent movement with beginning and end. The only way for this fine-grained stimulation of noise to resolve is to turn into organic white noise of the sea. As it does, the body slowly frees itself from the block and, finally, Victoria Hunt manages a smooth, non-discontinued, round arm movement. And collapses.

Triptych composes media with more intelligence than just about any performance I've seen: no element is dispensable. The moving screens constantly change the dynamics of space, with view lines intersecting, with movement lines interrupting and changing; performers can be out of the view of most, or even everyone, in the audience, and yet they are strong points in the overall composition of bodies, image, and empty space. There appear to be serial images built in linear configurations: in one moment, Thomson spasming in front of a screen, in unison with the sound/image projected, is mirrored by a smaller, less undisciplined tremor of Hunt's body, while Luke, on the far right, is helplessly lying on the ground. In the third scene, the sea wave on each side of the space draws an invisible line of horizon with the two central screens, and the perceived darkening of the digital screen when viewed at an angle creates an illusion of depth. Gorgeous projections by Sam James and Robin Fox and De Quincey's dance are closely, closely aligned with the Chris Abrahams's noisescape, to the point where no element could exist without the other (and how often do you see dance where the back wall is a brainstorm of unrelated imagery?).

However, for someone as unfamiliar with Bodyweather, or De Quincey, as I am, it was the quality of the body that was the biggest revelation, and the strongest point of interest. All four are astonishing performers (particularly Hunt and Fraser), their bodies like clay, drying into brittle dissipation with air, pulsating with electricity, or absorbing the heaviness of water. This is more an exploration of pure movement, of body reacting to stimuli, than choreography as such, and whoever expects dancers to stretch limbs and mimic being pulled and pushed may find little visual interest in Triptych. These are weighty bodies, grounded, most of the movement being an accumulation of blocked responses accumulating inside the body, trying to find release. It has no interest in recitative, demonstrative movement, but works from the inside. It is often inscrutable, emitting no signals and sending no messages; it can be merely felt. These are real bodies, bodies being, rather than ever copying another reality.

Triptych – Robin Fox sample from Samuel James on Vimeo.

Triptych. By De Quincey Co. presented by Performance Space. Choreographer/Director Tess de Quincey. Performers Peter Fraser, Victoria Hunt, Linda Luke, Lizzie Thomson. Sound composition Chris Abrahams. Audio-visual production Sam James. Video footage Tess de Quincey. Oscilloscopes Robin Fox. Performance Space @ Carriageworks, 245 Wilson Street, Eveleigh, Sydney. 6–15 November.

Tagged , ,