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Extended dance dynamic

John Bailey

The invitation extended by the 3D series at Dancehouse was a brave one: Artistic Director Dianne Reid opened up the venue to a sizeable number of independent choreographers and allowed them to utilise the space in unusual ways. In so doing, she asked audiences to “move through the different spaces in the building [and] notice that you are moving your own physical architecture. Consider your body as you watch other bodies...” One of the challenges raised by such a brief stems from the 3-week series’ generosity towards its participants creative freedom: rather than offering a tightly curated collection of thematically linked performances, choreographers were given great license in their interpretation of this mission statement. The result was mixed, with some works adhering to fairly conventional formal presentation. A number, however, took the opportunity to really engage with the dynamics of audience/performer relations, working with the three ‘D’s of the season’s title (dance, dramaturgy and design) in intriguing new ways.

Phoebe and Julia Robinson’s Quiet Listening Exercises was first shown at last year’s Next Wave Festival, and is a perfect fit here. Audience members are seated individually around the playing space, each provided with a separate set of headphones through which a glittering, crisp electronic score is piped. The 2 dancers play out a series of minimalist interactions and disengagements, occasionally gesturing towards tiny dramas while at other times refusing the viewer access into their private worlds. It certainly helps that the 2 are sisters, as the familiarity between them adds an extra layer to the work which oftens hints at childhood imagination and past stories. Moreover, I couldn’t help but remove my headset at one point and was startled to find the sisters dancing in silence, in an aural space entirely distinct from that provided the audience. This is a daring work, incorporating long moments of stillness, darkness, and quiet, an “exercise” in which the audience is given the chance to practice the skill of active contemplation.

3D dance dramaturgy and design, curator Dianne Reid, Dancehouse, July 6-7

RealTime issue #69 Oct-Nov 2005 pg. 14

© John Bailey; for permission to reproduce apply to [email protected]

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