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‘wildcard’ performers Trevor Patrick, Joanna Lloyd, Helen Herbertson, Full Colour ‘wildcard’ performers Trevor Patrick, Joanna Lloyd, Helen Herbertson, Full Colour
photo Rohan Young
HELEN HERBERTSON EXCHANGES SMILES WITH OTHER DANCERS, THEN WALKS TO THE CENTRE OF THE ROOM. THE ORANGE AURA OF THE SPACE (STAINED WOOD) IS INTENSIFIED BY THE PRESENCE OF A CURVED STREET LAMP. THE LAMP RECALLS FILM NOIR SCENES—A SINGLE LIGHT SOURCE SOFTLY ILLUMINATES A DARK WORLD. OUR KNOWLEDGE OF THAT WORLD IS CIRCUMSCRIBED. THERE IS NO PANORAMIC, GOD’S EYE VIEW.

Lasica often makes use of the spectator’s limited perspective, drawing upon a hidden score or creating a panorama which cannot be fully taken in. Sometimes a narrative lurks beneath the action, inaccessible or unconscious. Other times, multiple activities are superimposed so that the viewer must make choices about who and what to watch.

This time, inaccessibility is built into the structure of the piece and it is Shelley Lasica who must stay in the dark (choreographically speaking). Full Colour is performed by three dancers and one ‘wildcard’ performer each night. The latter has a certain leeway which the others do not. My wildcard was Helen Herbertson. Her beginning was particular to her body and her persona. The exchange of smiles was an indication of her own pleasure. Her taking the centre of the room was a momentary choice, a spur of the moment decision—unrepeatable.

Herbertson starts by flexing her hands, beginning at the periphery of the body, a distal origin. I suspected this was not Lasica’s movement material. Lasica’s arm movements are very distinctive, even when taken up by another body. She also has a preference for cross lateral connections made in the torso, which then spread out into the limbs. She composes staccato moments, perhaps a fall taken into a step; reassemble, reorganise, stop. Start again. None of this was apparent in Herbertson’s assay into motion.

Once begun, other bodies enter the fray, more recognisably mimeses of Lasica’s own body. I always enjoy watching others perform Lasica’s style, taking up her movements in the context of their own bodies. Deanne Butterworth has been doing this for some time. There is a plushness to her movement, a sort of peachy thickness which gives life to the material. Kyle Kremerskothen is newer to the task, but it is still clear that this is what is happening. This intense difference, between the wildcard’s improvisational work and the fixed material apparently performed by the others, sets the scene for Full Colour. It is as if the three performers (Lasica, Butterworth and Kremerskothen) are incarnations of the one persona in contrast to the wildcard.

Relationships emerge through physical proximity. Although interested in narrative and human relations, Lasica keeps the dramatic canvas spare. The responsibility for any interpretation of events and relationships lies squarely with the spectator, so much so that I cannot fully determine what Full Colour is about. I could say the work is about people in relation to each other. To that extent, Full Colour is not just about movement, it is about the movement of our lives. The wildcard does the trick in this respect, especially in Herbertson’s hands, for her personable interactions with the dancers suggests a human dimension over and above the human fact of dancers dancing. When she dances with Butterworth, it seems that a worldly project is underway. Although unclear what precisely that endeavour is, the feeling is that life has been abstracted.

What is it that allows for such abstraction? The bodies themselves are fully concrete. I think it is that the narrative dimension is underplayed. Theatrical forms of dance often show what they are about through creating recognisable stories or settings. We are at a train station, in someone’s home or in the bedroom; this is about a couple who are fighting or a group of energetic youths. Although there is a dramatic element to some of Lasica’s works, and to Full Colour in particular, its content is not laid out for the spectator. There are no surfaces, only depths. We have to work at interpreting any human drama. Furthermore, these interpretations are provisional, fleeting projections.

In this sense, my perceptions are only temporary illuminations. Lasica has left a lot unsaid and, in doing so, given space to the observer to meet the action. The music also refuses to determine the tone of the dancing. It gently supports the flow of movement. If this is in full colour, then it is watercolour, calligraphy, a picture created from momentary flows and constellations, the thickness of preconceived phrase material against the human tendency to perform oneself.


Full Colour, A dance performance, choreographer, director Shelley Lasica, dancers Shelley Lasica, Deanne Butterworth, Kyle Kremerskothen, with Wildcards: Helen Herbertson, Trevor Patrick, Jo Lloyd, Phillip Adams, sound Milo Kossowski, Morgan McWaters, lighting: Bluebottle, Ben Cobham, diffusion Rachel Young, Chunky Move Studios, Melbourne Dec 10-13, 2009

RealTime issue #95 Feb-March 2010 pg. 34

© Philipa Rothfield; for permission to reproduce apply to realtime@realtimearts.net

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