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Kristina Chan, Twelfth Floor Kristina Chan, Twelfth Floor
photo Matthew Morrish
We’re stuck on the twelfth floor, somewhere, nobody knows. What’s going on? Does it matter? From the second the lights go down, as sound score and movement begin, we are caught, arrested, transfixed. Choreographer, Tanja Liedtke, doesn’t let us go until she decides to. Soft-footed, funny, athletic, delicate, violent in places, and violating, Liedtke knows how to pull us every which way: and it works, although we hold our breath, suck in air, so close does the performance come to very nearly imploding, with us, the audience, as co-conspirators.

There is so much to say about this 50 minute dance work. This is a choreography about loss (being lost) and being found (finding); about desire and wanting (not wanting), not having; about fear (those shakes, that scream) and joy (yes, laughter); about togetherness, being together, and the anguish that accompanies a crashing alone-ness.

We watch every move, we want to watch (are watched): it fascinates, repulses, evokes. Liedtke knows how to make good use of bodies, the size and physicality of them (and not just the small), to take us from excruciatingly funny sequences of bouncing in and out of doors, playing Follow the Leader (the space itself comes alive); to a character squealing like a pig that chills. From a crude sexual ‘game’ with a figure drawn on a wall that turns terrifyingly into a simulated (real?) gang rape; to a flight of escape and possible redemption.

The choreography is character driven; and the 5 performers work beautifully alone and as a tight ensemble.

Take a most poignant sequence when ‘the big boy’ (Joshua Tyler) draws all over the walls (painted green and black as chalkboards) the words ‘sleep’, ‘dark’, ‘hole’, ‘her skin felt’, sometimes back-to-front, then draws/writes in chalk all over the girl in the yellow dress (Kristina Chan). This is a deft use of bodies as writing spaces: how we write ourselves (our bodies; our walls); how we are written up by others, by society—by us. Later, the boy follows the girl from chalk-footprint to chalk-footprint, carries her almost as though she is weightless—like a bird—a dance for just the 2 of them. He is fascinated by the movement of her body, its physicality; we are seduced.

Timing is impeccable; voice and sound (newly composed for Twelfth Floor by DJTr!p) just so; light folds back to reveal, or hide.

The denouement is worth the terrible weight of what goes on just before, to see the same girl dance her way to escape, drawing as she goes in red chalk, in a language that becomes gobbledygook, a mad scribble, emblematic of the emotion felt, inside out; to the point of departure. There: her face at the window, her drawing of a little chalk girl, in red. STOP IT STOP IT folds into CRY LIKE A BIRD into W E E P. And I think we do.

But is it enough? Aren’t we stuck in this mess? And why 12? In Twelfth Floor things aren’t always as they appear, or as we desire.

Twelfth Floor, The Australian Choreographic Centre, choreographer/ director Tanja Liedtke, performers Anton, Sascha Budimski, Kristina Chan, Amelia McQueen , Joshua Tyler, creative coordinator Solon Ulbrich, sound design and composition DJTr!p; Australian Choreographic Centre Performing Space, Canberra, March 16-20

RealTime issue #60 April-May 2004 pg. 44

© Francesca Rendle-Short; for permission to reproduce apply to [email protected]

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