LINK Dance Company: Im Spiegel
The Edith Spiegeltent
Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts
Edith Cowan University, 10 November
Edith Cowan University’s Spiegeltent provides a unique, intimate and beautiful performance space for WAAPA’s post-graduate dance company LINK’s Im Spiegel, a 45-minute physical theatre piece incorporating spoken word and themes of “memory, family and connection”. With a circular structure that keeps audiences in close proximity to the performers, Spiegeltents are hand-made architectural wonders of wood, mirrors, canvas and leaded glass, with velvet and brocade detailing and over a hundred years of history behind them.
Im Spiegel features nine female and two male performers under the direction of Samantha Chester, who is WAAPA’s resident performance movement lecturer. In addition, WAAPA graduate Natalie Allen joins LINK in this production as guest artist and collaborator. Allen’s talent has taken her to Sydney Dance Company, Australian Dance Theatre, Leigh Warren and Dancers and Expressions Dance Company and, currently based in her hometown of Perth, her artistry is an asset to this production.
The performance begins outside The Edith under a cloudless blue sky as the dancers appear one by one smartly dressed in street attire. Slight gestures and minimal body movements follow and they speak, almost chant, singly and in unison using fragmented sentences and individual words including the word “love”. The audience follows them into the Spiegeltent, taking seats on chairs at floor level around the performing space. Allen stands in the centre of the space and in silence, looks outwards and upwards intently searching or seeking for something unseen as others join her, some pulling up chairs to sit around the circle amongst the audience without interaction. Allen collapses to the floor and flings her body violently, desperately across the space multiple times before she is caught and calmed by one of the males.
Individual performers recall their memories through voiced abstract thoughts, song and movement, although some of the ideas and language were difficult to comprehend. A recorded mature female voice speaks of memory and her voice, which recurs, was clear and convincing. A male vocalising percussive rhythms enthralled. Recorded piano music is occasionally used as background as well as intermittent electronic sounds. Nick Cave’s soulful voice, songs (Anthrocene and No More Shall We Part) and affecting lyrics resonated with the work’s concepts most effectively: “Here I come now, here I come, I hear you been out there looking for something to love . . . It’s our bodies that fall when they try to rise” and “I’ll never be free . . . no more shall we part . . . all the birds will sing to your beautiful heart”.
The sound of the dancers’ feet and bodies against the floor as they ran and fell created its own percussive soundscape; welcome lighter moments included posing for “selfies”, and waltzing around to recorded song Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, which lifted the mood. White torn-up scraps of paper litter the space as they are scattered about, then are sent whirling and dancing in the air blasted by electric fans as the group continues circular running, walking and falling.
Allen found depth within simple movements and sustained positions while maintaining the impassive aesthetic of the work. Her honest, focused performance was a joy to watch. The LINK dancers (Sasha Brampton, Aaron Carey-Burrows, Lauren Catellani, Caitlin Gilchrist, Mani-Mae Gomes, Karen Haruta, Sarah Hawkins, Kishore Krishan, Cassady-Rose Mann, Lauren Sherlock, Sarah Sim Min Yi) all demonstrated excellent commitment and discipline, which augurs well as they begin their professional careers and set off to create new memories.
– MARGARET MERCER
If you're in Sydney or Melbourne, you can see LINK perform Skinless by Spanish choreographer Carmelo Segura, Ad Infinitum by Sue Peacock and Michael Whaites and Inventories of Bodies in Movement – a scored improvisation recreated for LINK devised by French choreographer Christine Fricker, at Io Myers Studio, University of NSW, 18 and 19 November, and at Temperance Hall, South Melbourne, on November 21 to 22 (at 4pm) Bookings through eventbrite.