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The Curiosities The Curiosities
photo Heidrun Löhr
SUE HEALY IS A MASTERFUL FILM MAKER, CHOREOGRAPHER AND PERFORMANCE-MAKER. SHE CREATES ART WITH REFINED ATTENTION TO AESTHETIC FORMATION AND PLACEMENT. WITH ACKNOWLEDGED JAPANESE INFLUENCES, SHE CREATES WORKS OF SUBTLETY, SYMMETRY AND UNDERSTATEMENT.

So while The Curiosities asks “what is this body we inhabit?” it does so by containing any seepage in a series of frames. These architectural bodies are cleansed, made of bone more than blood, carefully presented. Serial framing holds this dance at a distance, where it is watched more than felt.

Line is everywhere. Multiple squared screens, varying in size, present image and provide light. To the left of the audience a huge wall screen dangles a strangely three dimensional heart in black space. An unrecognisable shape rotates, commanding the dancer to follow. As it shrinks, dancer Adam Synnott is brought to the floor and, as it disappears, he is cast into darkness. A moving box with four blinds that act as a screen morphs into circus stage then to medical exhibit.

The Curiosities The Curiosities
photo Heidrun Löhr
Linear clarity appears even in the pools of light made into tight, clear circles by lighting designer Jo Mercurio. And the unusual modern dance choreography aligns space into curved spine against lengthened limb. The paddled hand and the extended foot fashion long bones that are placed into space, full of anatomy.

Nalina Wait appears black clad in the huge CarriageWorks black box. Her body becomes a screen and, as she revolves slowly, images of the human heart play on her back, side, front. Wait dances the heart as the seat of emotion, contorting her face into spooky smiles and wretched frowns. Lisa Griffith is bird girl, complete with tail feathers, who flies and speeds, yet remains grounded in the strength and confidence of her dancing. She athletically duets with Adam Synnott as they dance the dynamics and dreams of a species. Their throwing, catching, falling, lifting unions are easeful and practiced, although, like many of the choreographic bites, are all too brief. But perhaps most potent of all is ‘medical’ girl, Rachelle Hickson, who icily presents her body for view with a matter of factness that seems to fit most powerfully with the overarching coolness of Healey’s aesthetic. She becomes goddess in her rational stillness, turning her body over to investigation, unblinking and statuesque.

At one point, a series of wooden canes are used to prop up body bits: the human on display as living mannequin. It is perhaps the moment when The Curiosities becomes most curious. On the moving box is a sculpture of inanimate limbs, pinned for identification, disabled by objectification, no longer flush with life, but weighty with science or circus.

Maybe all these moments rushed by too quickly. I wished and waited for choreographic immersion, for the bites to linger longer. Within each dancing vignette there was a deep understanding of textured rhythm, as flow was punctured by syncopation, only to re-emerge and be lost again. But overall there was a rush to get to the next bit, which tainted the aesthetic understatement with frenetic timing.

Tempering all the coolness, though, is a lingering memory of shining bodies, of flesh made golden and luminescent through the warm tones of light; Mercurio’s treatment of flesh balancing the formality and flushing the dancers with life.


See the Sue Healey Archive Highlight and a video excerpt from The Curiosities.

The Curiosities, choreography Sue Healy in collaboration with dancers Lisa Griffiths, Rachelle Hickson, Adam Synnott, Nalina Wait, film Sue Healey, composer Darrin Verhagen, animator Adnan Lalani, digital artist Adam Synnott, design Wings, lighting Jo Mecurio; Performance Space, Sydney, Oct 28-Nov 7; www.suehealey.com.au

RealTime issue #94 Dec-Jan 2009 pg. 37

© Pauline Manley; for permission to reproduce apply to realtime@realtimearts.net

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