|Miranda Wheen, Quest|
photo Heleana Genaus icantakephotos.com
The story is immediately recognisable but time-dilated: a snippet of life made fantasy. A woman in a slinky black dress and fierce, businessy heels finds herself trapped in a pool of light. She is navigating what resembles an imaginary obstacle course, “she opens herself up to invisible forces that she might or might not be able to control” (program note).
Dancer Miranda Wheen is transfixing. She commands our attention from the get go. Even when I try to turn to the musicians who are visible on stage she draws me back with del Amo's jagged choreography and her piercing gaze. She dances the whole piece with the appearance of intense scrutiny but never once lets us see what she is looking at. This keeps us with her, interested in the narrative and its perfect component moments.
From out of silence the musicians gradually set a mood of quiet isolation. Wheen begins, her muscular but feminine back to us, twitching subtly. At first it's not obvious whether she is moving because no one is watching yet, out of discomfort or with intent, but as the gestures become larger it is clear that every twinge and shudder is scripted. Charged with meaning, her movements and stillnesses are cells of experience, listed in sequence but standing alone.
Performed by Andrew Smith on saxophone and Luke Spicer on viola, the music is independently engaging but complements the dance. The moments where dancer and musicians lock into synergy are magical. As the woman's journey draws to a close, the music returns to the fore and then icily recedes.
This provides an apt segue to the next work, an electronic set by Daniel Blinkhorn based on field recordings of ice made in the Arctic near Norway. Blinkhorn introduces us to the sounds of glaciers cracking and water undergoing transformation. In one piece he borrows sounds of ice chirping and whispering to itself and “frictionalises” these sounds in order to portray types of sea and air vessels that usually travel the region. CreEpEr is inspired by the wild flailing gestures of the composer trying to balance while walking on ice holding a microphone. It's loosely informed by dubstep and other current electronica and finishes the night's entertainment on a very different note.
Blinkhorn's music is immersive and transporting and the messages from his icy, inanimate companions transcend language. When a child in the audience started to cry, it took a long time for me to discern that this sound was human and not another aspect of living water from Blinkhorn's frosted scape. This project reminds us of our fragility, our dependence on the Earth. Or maybe it's just that we personify nature and hear our own condition reflected within: it was not at all baffling that those dwindling icebergs might have been crying. We're all sacks of walking warm water. We search the most formidable landscapes on the other side of the world to hear familiar sounds.
Performed by Chronology Arts & DirtyFeet at the Seymour Centre, 2012.
Composer: Alex Pozniak
Dancer: Miranda Wheen
Choreographer: Martin del Amo
Film & Recorded by Hospital Hill Recordings
Aurora Festival of Living Music: Invisible Forces: Quest, choreographer Martin del Amo, composer Alex Pozniak, dancer Miranda Wheen, musicians Luke Spicer, Andrew Smith; frostbYte cHatTer, sound artist, composer Daniel Blinkhorn; Campbelltown Arts Centre, Sydney, May 12; www.auroranewmusic.com.au/
Felicity Clark is a shakuhachi, taiko and recorder player and is a PhD candidate at the University of Sydney.
RealTime issue #109 June-July 2012 pg. web
© Felicity Clark; for permission to reproduce apply to email@example.com