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Dance Massive 2013

2013


 Da Contents H2

dance massive 2013
March 27 2013
dance: installed, immersed, hybridised
keith gallasch: dance massive 2013


quotidian moves, gangnam-style
philipa rothfield: ben speth, wetubelive

dance massive 2013
sounds to dance to, with, against
gail priest: sound design in dance massive 2013


March 26 2013
the life in the work
philipa rothfield: tracie mitchell, dance screen retrospective

youtubing live
varia karipoff: ben speth, wetubelive

dance massive 2013
March 24 2013
dance & disorientation
keith gallasch: tim darbyshire, more or less concrete

more or less monstrous
jana perkovic: atlanta eke, monster body


realtime tv: tim darbyshire, more of less concrete, dance massive 2013

March 22 2013
ritual entwining
philipa rothfield: soo yeun you, [gu:t] [work-in-progress]

strange affliction: dance massive & transcendence
keith gallasch: jo lloyd, future perfect

March 21 2013
a not so private hearing
carl nilsson-polias: tim darbyshire, more or less concrete

realtime tv: antony hamilton, black projects 1& 2, dance massive 2013

something ends, something begins
virginia baxter: dance exchange, dance for the time being - southern exposure

dance massive 2013
the perfection of submission
varia karipoff: jo lloyd, future perfect

March 20 2013
inner fury, seductive skill
philipa rothfield: anouk van dijk, chunky move, 247 days

March 20 2013
old tropes & the new disconnect
carl nilsson-polias: lucy guerin inc & belvoir, conversation piece

March 19 2013
now, then, now
keith gallasch: sandra parker, the recording

realtime tv: anouk van dijk, 247 days, chunky move, dance massive 2013

dance massive 2013
March 18 2013
creating an affective community
jana perkovic: matthew day, intermission


fun and the damage done
keith gallasch: larissa mcgowan, skeleton

more than smoke and mirrors
virginia baxter: ashley dyer, life support

realtime tv: lee serle, p.o.v., dance massive 2013

March 17 2013
realtime tv: dalisa pigram, gudirr gudirr, dance massive 2013

the body un-mirrored
jana perkovic: anouk van dijk, chunky move, 247 days

the origins of feeling
philipa rothfield: sandra parker, the recording

March 16 2013
realtime tv: stephanie lake, dual, dance massive 2013

dance massive 2013
March 15 2013
a dance for dark times
virginia baxter: dalisa pigram, gudirr gudirr

brittle bones & internal electricity
carl nilsson-polias: larissa mcgowan, skeleton

in the thick of it
philipa rothfield: lee serle, p.o.v.

March 15 2013
inside the audience
jana perkovic: lee serle, p.o.v

the poetry of pain
keith gallasch: stephanie lake, dual

dance massive 2013
when two become one
varia karipoff: stephanie lake, dual

March 14 2013
blacker than black
keith gallasch: antony hamilton, black projects 1 & 2

life in a puff
carl nilsson-polias: ashley dyer, life support


March 13 2013
dark symmetries
carl nilsson-polias: antony hamilton, black projects 1 & 2

lines of flight
philipa rothfield: dalisa pigram, gudirr gudirr

dance massive 2013
suggestive formalism
jana perkovic: natalie abbott, physical fractals


unsettling the audience
varia karipoff: natalie abbott, physical fractals

February 22 2013
an intense manifestation of dance
philipa rothfield: dance massive 2013, melbourne

dance massive 2013: from the archive
lucy guerin inc, conversation piece; antony hamilton, black project; atlanta eke, this monster body; matthew day, intermission; jo lloyd, future perfect; tim darbyshire, more or less concrete; natalie abbot, physical fractals; ben speth, wetubelive

 

Natalie Abbott, Sarah Aitken, Physical Fractals Natalie Abbott, Sarah Aitken, Physical Fractals
photo Ponch Hawkes
EVER SINCE MODERN DANCE BUILT ITS MANIFESTO ON THE REJECTION OF REALISTIC STORYTELLING, CONTEMPORARY DANCE HAS BEEN A BIT OF A HARD SLOG FOR UNACCUSTOMED AUDIENCES. A DEEPLY ABSTRACT ART—AND NATALIE ABBOTT’S PHYSICAL FRACTALS IS RIGHT UP THERE WITH THE MOST ABSTRACT—CONTEMPORARY DANCE OFTEN HINGES ON A CAPACITY FOR SUGGESTIVENESS AND THE DESIRE TO CULTIVATE A RICH INTERIOR LIFE.

The tenuous ‘truth’ of a dance work is so often buried somewhere between movement and mood, that we all, I would say, need the ability to let our minds wander over the physical performance, if we are to get to its core.

Postmodernism has brought narrative, realism and politics back into dance, but not evenly so. In particular, there is a strand of Australian dance that has furiously resisted all figuration, remained staunchly formalist and—I mean this without reprimand—has privileged mood and atmosphere over concept and narrative. Physical Fractals, the first long-form work by young choreographer Natalie Abbott, sits squarely within this tradition. The work examines how a cross-interference of media stimuli—sound, light and movement—can create a meaningful audience experience. It is deeply formalist in intent, and I am somewhat glad I entered the auditorium without knowing this.

Two young female dancers, Abbott herself and Sarah Aitken, dressed in loose, comfortable black, perform repetitious sequences of simple gestures, gradually drawing intersecting lines within the circular stage. Their movements are uncomplicated but heavy, Haka-like—wide stomping backwards, dangling arms, weighted jumping, running, heavy falling of bodies—with strong, pendular shifts of weight. The choreography emphasises the weightiness of these two (quite lithe) bodies, and creates an effect of empathetic physical exhaustion in the audience, particularly as we watch Abbott and Aitken repeatedly crash to the ground, in the final sequence. Meanwhile, their thumps and stomps are looped, magnified and sent swirling back, building into a powerful echo, as if the two women are single-handedly raising a storm. At one point, the dancers swing microphones on their cords, building a symphony of static. The effect is hypnotic but deep: the heaviness of the performance lodges itself deeply in one’s body.

Sarah Aitken, Natalie Abbott, Physical Fractals Sarah Aitken, Natalie Abbott, Physical Fractals
photo Ponch Hawkes
At its best, Physical Fractals makes us feel the sheer force of these simple movements on the dancers’ bodies. Abbott seems to emphasise weight not purely for sonic effect: repetition of falling, faltering and stooping builds a narrative of physical strain and resilience. It could be easily read as a feminist choreography, but equally as a humanist one (female body has limited significance here). Its dancing bodies are grounded, weighted, imperfectly synced, injurable, far from the superhero flying automata that one still sees. I was reminded acutely of Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker’s early work, particularly Rosas Dans Rosas and Bartók, which wove the same strands of repetition, simple gestures and femininity into something formalist, yet humbly political and life affirming. (There was also an echo of her later work, which explores darkness, movement and silence within similar parameters.) But I kept waiting in vain for this work to use its magnificently realised means in the pursuit of some higher goal.

Physical Fractals continuously operated on the same plane, neither submerging us under its powerful storm into a meditative enlightenment, nor raising us to a bird’s eye realisation of higher purpose. I could not detect a fractal pattern (a fractal is self-similar, presenting the same complexity of build at different scales: think cauliflower or snowflake). I was waiting for a minimum of philosophical framework, something to gently give meaning to the genuine empathy the work was creating, something between awe and care; I was waiting for Abbott to utilise the powerful spell she had cast on us. It never came, and the work is weaker for its unfulfilled potential than it would have been had it ventured a smaller stake.

For the pure affective stamp it leaves, Physical Fractals is a formally successful work, and Abbott a sensitive and intelligent choreographer. Just as de Keersmaeker’s formalist work created political resonances she had not necessarily had in mind, so was I able to enjoy an interior dialogue about strength, resilience, mysticism and the fourth wave of feminism while hypnotised by this fine choreography. This is not, and cannot be wrong: the figurative emptiness at the heart of contemporary dance requires a suggestible viewer. I cannot escape the impression, however, that I enjoyed Physical Fractals for the wrong and unexpected reasons—against the grain of the author’s intent.


Dance Massive: Physical Fractals, choreographer, director, performer Natalie Abbott, collaborator Rebecca Jensen, performer Sarah Aitken, live sound design Daniel Arnot, dramaturg Matthew Day, lighting Govin Ruben; Arts House, North Melbourne Town Hall, March 12-16; http://dancemassive.com.au/

RealTime issue #114 April-May 2013 pg. 31

© Jana Perkovic; for permission to reproduce apply to realtime@realtimearts.net

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