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Paul Romano, Luke Hickmott, The weight of the thing left its mark Paul Romano, Luke Hickmott, The weight of the thing left its mark
photo Dianne Reid
THE WEIGHT OF THE THING LEFT ITS MARK IS ABOUT SUBJECTS AND OBJECTS. THE OBJECTS ARE DOMESTIC IN SCALE, HOUSEHOLD ITEMS TAKEN FROM A DRAWER OR CUPBOARD. THE SUBJECTS ARE HUMAN, TWO OF EACH KIND. THIS IS AN IMPROVISED WORK, THAT IS, AN IMPROVISATION WITHIN A FRAME OR SERIES OF FRAMES. THE DOMESTIC SETTING OFFERS ONE SUCH FRAME. IT HELPS US LOOK AT THE MEN AND WOMEN AS IN SOME KIND OF RELATIONSHIP.

The breadth of the upstairs theatre at Dancehouse is warmed by a soft, golden light. It creates a panoramic kitchen scene, maybe in a farm. All begin seated around the table, alongside a large pile of cutlery. We wait. The waiting suggests a degree of flexibility. Perhaps the performers do not know who will begin or how. Is there a reluctance to start? The responsibility for beginning can be felt even before the dancing occurs. Once begun, the flow of the movement then takes over and the burden lessens. The utensils help. Small confined moves slowly build towards a crescendo of sound. The cutlery is hard, almost violent.

One by one the dancers rise to perform. Since most of them enter through a solo improvisation, the first kind of relationship is to the self as seen by others. This is how the solos looked to me. The rhythm of each improvisation was articulated into chunks, where each chunk constituted a move. The mind of the performer appeared to demand the repeated influx of ‘new’ movements. A succession of moves ensued where much attention was given to the joints of the limbs. These broke up the flow of movement but seemed to offer the reassurance of a certain kind of focus and logic. It is as if the bones of the body and their pivotal moments —knees, elbows, hip joints, ankles, neck—were the fabric of the movement.

Dancers choose between these dominating possibilities. One dancer flings her body from an anchored centre. Another falls into the vortex of his joints. Finally, one dancer breaks this staccato rhythm with a more flowing approach. It is harder to discern the percussive rhythm of conscious choice (move-move-move-move) in this more durational solo.

The burden of ‘creation’ implicit in improvisation seems to be lessened when the responsibility is shared. The duets in The Weight... were more than dialogue. They created feelings and atmospheres which belonged to a new unison, one formed between and across the two bodies. The girl-girl and boy-boy duets were distinctive and interesting. One of the dancers (Paul Romano) performed an extended dance with a spade, working with and responding to its weight with great clarity. Other objects were also brought into relation to the dancing—the cutlery, knives, a pitchfork, pouring grain from a sack.

There were times when the objects seemed to take on the responsibility of choice in this work, where they had more agency than the performers. Is this the weight of the object? If so, then there is a perceptible oscillation in The Weight of the Thing Left its Mark between the conscious agency of the dancer and the potential of the object to assume that agency. And the dancing is to be found in between.


The Weight of the Thing Left its Mark, director, choreographer Shaun McLeod, performers, co-choreographers Olivia Millard, Paul Romano, Sophia Cowen, Luke Hickmott, sound design Madeleine Flynn, Tim Humphrey, lighting Daniel Holden; Dancehouse, Melbourne, April 23-26

RealTime issue #91 June-July 2009 pg. 38

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

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