Australian Dance Theatre – Space Theatre
The ADT’s Ignition program is rather like a concept car. It is the company’s opportunity once a year to produce something that is really out there, which its audience isn’t likely to understand, but which fulfills the dreams and desires of its choreographers.
This year the Ignition program is no different. It remains abstract, interpretive, artistic and inspired – despite how difficult it may be to decipher any meaning from the works.
Staged in the Space theatre, the show was divided into two definite sets with an interval between. The first set a series of five smaller works, the second, one major piece which was the main performance. In each dance the choreographers were trying (according to the program) to make a comment on various parts of society, and to ask the question – what is dance?
The first dance ‘Apophenia’, by Chris Aubrey, showed a family unit, the dancers moving throughout the space distorting the 3 dimensions and using the set in previously unimagined ways.
‘Arabesque’ by Kimball Wong followed, breaking down the raw physical techniques and tools used by athletes and experts and placing them into a basic competition. This piece was very light and for the first time the audience was invited to meet the dancers on a more personable level.
‘Scrap’ by Larissa McGowan questioned the heightened emotional state of fighting and violence and its relation to dance. Skillfully the actors threw themselves around the stage, but after a few minutes of repetition the piece appeared uninspired and boring.
‘The Universe of No-Body’ starred Garry Stewart himself, and tested the audience on the idea of the dancer in a space, movement, stillness, nudity and the audience’s relationships to that. Mostly a monologue by Stewart, it was a light and funny look at dance and some of the absurdities that underpin its creation.
The final piece in the first set was ‘Be That As It May’ by Tara Soh and Kyle Page. The work itself was very cryptic and incorporating nudity didn’t add anything to the narrative. There was some incredibly effective projection during this piece which unfortunately stole the show.
After interval the audience was invited back for the main production ‘RGB’ by Antony Hamilton. The allocation of a packet of disposable earplugs as you re-entered the auditorium was unsettling and it soon became evident it was also necessary. RGB was a incredibly difficult piece both visually and audibly to endure. A soundscape seemingly comprised of dentist drills, jet engines, bone trembling bass beats and repetitious clicks and booms made RGB painful to hear. The black and white set, costuming and lighting flickering in an almost epileptic fashion made it difficult to see and the dance, executed with great skill and enormous talent from the cast was impossible to decipher. It raised the question for me, is talent and enjoyment are the same thing? Unfortunately in this case they are not.
The cast of ADT are all exceptionally talented dancers; however the highly cryptic nature of this conceptual dance exploration removed any enjoyment for me. Leaving the auditorium without question or challenge in my mind proved that despite being visually impressive the objective was lost.