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comedy of not quite in control

anne thompson: katrina lazaroff’s involuntary


l-r Ninian Donald, Veronica Shum, Tim Rodgers, Jessica Statton, Involuntary l-r Ninian Donald, Veronica Shum, Tim Rodgers, Jessica Statton, Involuntary
photo Sam Oster
KATRINA LAZAROFF’S INVOLUNTARY SPEAKS OF HOW WE ARE ORDERED AND SHAPED THROUGH THE VARIOUS MECHANISMS OF COMMUNICATION WE ENCOUNTER OR USE, BEGINNING, TONGUE IN CHEEK, WITH PROJECTED TERMS AND CONDITIONS FOR THIS PERFORMANCE. THESE BECOME MORE AND MORE ABSURD AS THEY ARE SCROLLED THROUGH.

An extended dance sequence, clearly drawn from an investigation of involuntary movements, follows with toe-tapping music. The dancers are then asked a series of questions. They are clearly under duress, the suggestion being that they need to pass some test. They bend and twist in response.

The great appeal in Lazaroff’s dance projects lies in the humour that informs each performance and her determination that the dancers appear as ‘regular people.’ These two aesthetic choices are not unrelated. In Involuntary she borrows from clowning to achieve the various vignettes and the performers also frequently address the audience directly. Four ladders are used to great effect. Climbing up a ladder becomes a clown routine of entanglement because of the obstacles presented by ‘the OH&S supervisor.’ A dance routine is made from spectator behaviour, what we do in the privacy of lounge room television watching. We also watch the dancers on Skype—private projections of self—talking, gaming, masturbating.

Two dancers have a conversation via computer in text language. This is shown to be a little limiting. They also meet up via video on their mobile phones—a fairytale image as these two tiny screens dance together to music box tinkling. Always we see the struggle for the individual to squeeze into narrowly determined situations and behaviour, longing to break free of constraint, as exemplified beautifully by an office chair routine that starts with listening to a telephone answering service and becomes a ballet of flight as the dancers give up waiting. The performers are equal to this task—engaging to watch, physically skilled and bold.

The knock-about humour, easy polemic and engagement with the audience reminded me of the Aussie performance aesthetic championed and immortalised by Circus Oz. At one stage the dancers compete for air time to tell us their complaints. An audience member is then invited on stage with the performers to speak of what infuriates them.

The technology is used skillfully. The witty projections are seamlessly and elegantly woven into each vignette. The music is fun. The dance material in solos, duets and quartets captures the awkwardness of being not quite in control of one’s body. The final duet is a simple homage to touch and connection as performed by two dancers, though the true message of this piece, and of interaction with technology as a disciplinary force, is ‘be playful.’


One Point 618 & Adelaide Festival Centre: Involuntary, director, choreographer Katrina Lazaroff, performers, creators Tim Rodgers, Ninian Donald, Veronica Shum, Jessica Statton, lighting, projection design Nic Mollison, sound design Sascha Budimski, set design Richard Seidel; Space Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre, May 1-5

RealTime issue #109 June-July 2012 pg. 6

© Anne Thompson; for permission to reproduce apply to realtime@realtimearts.net

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