Wayfinder Adelaide Festival 2024Adelaide Festival. Dance North. Space Theatre. 14 Mar 2024


Waiting in an overheated foyer for a delayed performance can dampen the spirits somewhat, but it doesn’t take long to lose the tension and go with the flow; go wayfinding. ‘Why are there white balloons on intermittent seats?’ wonders the audience as we find our way to our seats. But they’re not balloons, they’re weighty globes that quietly hum and emit the palest light. On the dimly lit stage, we can just see the shape of a figure, also holding one of these globes.


Suddenly, an explosion of light, sound and movement, and we’re off!


Wayfinder has played to Brisbane, Sydney and Perth Festivals and now it’s Adelaide’s turn. And what a turn it is. The eight dancers, dressed in myriad rainbow colours, put on a fusion of contemporary dance, hip hop and acrobatics with the most wonderful collaboration of light and sound to be seen on stage for some time. Choreographers Kyle Page and Amber Haines have not so much presented a narrative here as a series of conjoined vignettes, and their partnership with visual designer Hirome Tango (set and costumes), sound artist Byron J Scullion and lighting designer Niklas Pajanti has made for a production that is as entertaining as it is thought provoking.


It's so wonderful to see colour again; it’s like landing in Oz after the sepia tones of Kansas. And it’s not just the costumes; the frenetic and affirming opening gives way to an avalanche of coloured woven woollen threads falling from the sky, which soon form a motif for the piece, returning again and again. And when I say avalanche, I don’t use the term loosely. The bespoke inflated stage (appearing like an extremely large camping mattress) is literally covered in the brightly woven rope strands. These strands were apparently woven by a large volunteer cohort around Townsville and give a whole new perspective to the term ‘yarning’.


And the white globes? You hear the music before you realise it’s coming from your lap where you’re nestling this object. And the one next to you is making a different sound, and the harmonic chorus fills the room; the globes glow brighter and brighter, almost as bright as the smiles of the audience.


The stage becomes more inflated, and dancers bounce from corner to corner; a mesmerising ballet of percussive arms morphs into more colour, more sound and a second inflated stage cum wall (at one point what appears to be the monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey) and oh my, smiles from the dancers! The whirling cacophony of coloured choreography seems sometimes to have faltered, to have lost focus, to be slightly out of sync; then the synergy kicks in and the tightly synced dancers are exactly where they should be, when they should be. Wayfinding indeed.


There’s no point singling out highlights from this production; this is a collaborative effort from start to finish, and everyone is a star. Wayfinder is a glutinous feast for the eyes and ears; a journey of light, colour and sound. We are the richer for being navigated here by Dance North.


Arna Eyers-White


When: 15 to 17 Mar

Where: Space Theatre

Bookings: adelaidefestival.com.au