Expressions Dance Company: Launchpad 2012
|Added:||29 February 2012|
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Judith Wright Centre, Brisbane
This was the third Launch Pad season of works in development for Expressions Dance Company (EDC). The program offers emerging choreographers the chance to work within the supporting environment of the company.
Artistic director Natalie Weir’s brief was that each piece must be a duet and no longer than 10 minutes. The intimate studio setting, where the audience is within spitting distance of the dancers, as well as minimal design elements, firmly pulls the focus on to the movement and the dancers.
Queensland Ballet dancer Gareth Belling, marking his debut with contemporary dancers, opened the short program with From Darkness. Inspired by the horrific Snowtown murders, Belling wanted to explore the complexities of an abusive relationship, the usually unspoken bond between abuser and victim.
This is a departure in style for Belling, showing he has a good grasp of dramatic expression through movement that, here, leaps between that of anguished restraint and the violently explosive.
Dancers Riannon McLean and David Williams conveyed the complexities of this tortured relationship with compelling commitment. The tension between the two protaganists is clearly drawn, as they in turn unite in conflict and withdraw – Williams to a large metal framework, woven web-like with ropes and ribbons, and McLean, the victim, taut and repressed, to a chair.
Bloodlust, by Claire Marshall, also explores a toxic relationship, with the movie Single White Female as its genesis. Marshall, best known for her choreography for music video clips, admits that here she was reluctant to divest her work of all costuming and set design.
Instead, the studio mirrors were exposed and the blinds lifted to reveal the Brisbane night skyline. Deep red lighting swamped the space, while dancers Samantha Mitchell and QUT graduate Michelle Barnett dazzled in black and fire engine red pants and tops.
The music, by Depeche Mode, gives the work a distinct heavy-metal feel, while the movement correspondingly shows a strong “popping” or robotic influence, which is quite interesting in itself. However, less reliance on the visual elements in this work would allow the movement, and consequently the drama within the movement, to be revealed with more clarity.
In a departure from the duet construct of the rest of the program, six Queensland University of Technology students presented another work by Belling – but one that is still “in development” (the finished work is intended for November’s graduation season).
Called Say Something, only the final moments were presented. To music by Max Richter, Belling has created a fluid continuum of movement, broadly covering the space and containing a gamut of barrel rolls, flying arabesques, leaps, and runs falling into and rising up from the floor. With its extreme physicality, Say Something should showcase graduating students to advantage.
The final work was Lisa Wilson’s Crush, which as an exploration of the concept of panic offered no let-up from the dark, humourless works that preceded it. To an evocative score by Paul Charlier, which builds in intensity and in no small way helps create the suffocating mood of debilitating panic, Crush shows that Wilson is quite deftly in control of her craft.
The pairing of Elise May and Jack Ziesing made riveting dance. The lighting, although basic, is inspired. Fluorescent tubes dragged across the floor mark out the space. In the angst-ridden middle section of the work, the single light from a torch held by the dancers creates silhouettes against the rough brick walls of the studio, heightening the sense of panic and fear. A gentle denouement fortunately offers some sense of resolution and a softer “landing” for the viewer.
This was quite a tasty tapas selection of dance. More substance is promised in 2013 as EDC has funding for a select few to be further developed into longer half-hour works in a program to be titled Next Step.
– DENISE RICHARDSON