photo Chris Herzfeld
Two artists took the opportunity to tell stories of heterosexual romance, that staple narrative of theatrical dance. Timothy Ohl’s Broken Departed charts a love story of loss with slacker charm. Dancers Shannon Anderson and Kristina Chan perform a duet under duress as their plane goes down. Ohl in hard hat and work boots taps out a message on wired-for-sound tiles. Exposed to the elements in underwear, Chan is washed up by the wind. Ohl scatters sand on the floor and, singing, whistling, shuffles his way through a children’s song or two.
Returning to ADT as a guest, Lina Limosani locates her love story, The Penny Drops, in the office of a crazed relationship counsellor, performed with cartoon obviousness by Paul Zivkovich. The work scores a romance of histrionic emotions to a scrolling radio dial soundtrack of love songs. Students from the dance program at Adelaide Institute of TAFE play the girl, the boy and a couch. The girl is confident and assertive; the boy is nervous and anxious—alone, at one point, he cries profusely on the couch. As in Ohl’s Broken Departed, it’s the male emotional trajectory that enjoys the choreographer’s attention. The Penny Drops closes the evening with audience favour. It is recognisably comic, technically proficient and enjoyably banal.
Only one stage work threatens to exceed the obligatory spatial constraint. Theatre director Sam Haren makes his dance debut with The Game Is Not Over. Created with dancers Shannon Anderson and Ohl (and Larissa McGowan in rehearsal), Haren finds choreographic daring in the aerial moves of Australian Rules football. Kicks, marks, handpasses and those distinctive umpire gestures that signal the scoring of a goal are ‘mashed’ together with the grand jeté and port de bras of ballet. The compression of so much energetic extension on such a small stage is—to use the sporting lingo—awesome.
Daniel Jaber’s The World’s Smallest Stage: Invaded! compresses action drawn from the catwalk of high fashion. As in other works, Jaber uses entrances and exits to readily discharge the spatial limitation. Yet without a catwalk for progression the 9 dancers in this fashion show do little more than enter, present a pose, retreat, repeat. They are, however, appreciably costumed in fashionable strangeness by Jaber himself.
photo Chris Herzfeld
The distillation of feelings and experience into abstraction is more compelling on the stage. Xiao Xuan Yang’s lively F-Lash, danced by Anderson, Jaber and Riannon Maclean, uses the changing colours of traffic lights to articulate the transition of emotional states “that people deal with while they are traffic.” The choreography of Lamenting Equipoise by Glen McCurley and Slack by Larissa McGowan is derived from even simpler grounds. McCurley’s is a choreography of breath, danced with grieving sensitivity by McGowan, Jaber and Laura Trevor. McGowan’s is a beautiful study in suspension, danced—with loosely swinging limbs and Jaber’s striking hair extensions—by Trevor, Megan Sullivan and the choreographer herself.
ADT, Ignition 6: The World’s Smallest Stage, curator Garry Stewart, ADT studios, Adelaide, Aug 15-18
Jonathan Bollen lectures in Drama at Flinders University in Adelaide.
RealTime issue #75 Oct-Nov 2006 pg. 40
© Jonathan Bollen; for permission to reproduce apply to email@example.com