• Alisdair Macindoe's 'Dull Boy'. Photo by David Kelly.
    Alisdair Macindoe's 'Dull Boy'. Photo by David Kelly.
  • The ADC ensemble in Jenni Large's 'Truth Beauty Suffering'. Photo by David Kelly.
    The ADC ensemble in Jenni Large's 'Truth Beauty Suffering'. Photo by David Kelly.
  • Amber McCartney performs in her own 'Tiny Infinite Deaths'. Photo by David Kelly.
    Amber McCartney performs in her own 'Tiny Infinite Deaths'. Photo by David Kelly.

Brisbane Powerhouse
Reviewed March 20

“Three” was originally conceived by Australasian Dance Collective (ADC) Artistic Director Amy Hollingsworth as a vehicle to showcase the versatility and strength of the company dancers in new works. Visualised as an annual triple-bill program after its inaugural 2021 season, but returning now after a year’s hiatus, this program of “Three” again promised works of creative risk-taking that would both push boundaries and challenge dancers and audiences alike.

Bookended by world premiere works performed by the six ADC dancers, the program opened with Dull Boy, by Alisdair Macindoe and conceived and created with the dancers. According to the program notes the work is an “intuitive response” by Macindoe to the invasive and pervasive effects of social media on us as individuals; our increasingly force-fed experience of the “commercialisation and commodification of social interaction".

The work begins slowly, movement underpinned by a mesmerising soundscape (also by Macindoe), building together in intensity and speed, showing Macindoe’s ability to effectively fuse music with dance. Evoking the industrialisation of interaction, the movement is often gestural – mime-like patting, pulling, and tossing sometimes performed almost in unison, building in urgency, but overall remaining grounded.

The dancers, feet in sneakers, wear a patchwork of re-worked, second hand clothing. Overhead hang cloud-like, abstractly draped canvas sculptures fashioned from advertising waste. Both set and costumes are by Chloe Greaves and Macindoe.

In the final moments the drapes fall to the stage, and are separated into six lengths by the dancers, who each then swing them overhead onto the floor with a rhythmic, relentless and almost cathartic pounding.

Jenni Large’s Truth Beauty Suffering, the concluding work of the program, explores the dual constructs of romance and capitalism, and the socio-cultural tragedy of their intersection. Again, an interesting although somewhat pessimistic premise, expressed in the movement but also the costumes (Bethany Cordwell), where a voluminous coat of pink tulle, and g-string and sequined singlet combination, designed to evoke romance, are paired with army fatigue shorts, signifiers of war and capitalism.

The work begins with a later repeated motif of a dancer pulled up or down the diagonal, while standing on a long ribbon of red fabric. Romance is rather simplistically signified by recognisable motifs from the classical ballet canon, for instance the en dehors turns in attitude by Giselle in Act 2, along with courrus on the demi-pointe, mouths sometimes widely agape. This silent exclamation evolves into full-bodied screaming en masse towards the end of the work.

Composer Anna Whitaker combines voice, electronics and elements of the classical idiom to create a dissonant, at times throbbing soundscape. There are, however, welcome moments of silence and stillness. One such moment has the dancers lying alongside one another face-down, the slapping noise as they individually raise and drop their torsos onto the stage floor punctuating the silence.

While the thematic exploration of Truth Beauty Suffering could have been deeper, there was no lapse in commitment from the dancers – Tyrel Dulvarie, Harrison Elliott, Lilly King, Taiga Kita-Leong, Lily Potger and Georgia Van Gils. Their artistry, versatility and technical skill, while perhaps not always fully exploited, was clear.

The Brisbane premiere of Amber McCartney’s solo work, Tiny Infinite Deaths, formed the centrepiece of the program, and was the most fascinating. McCartney’s practice incorporates prosthetics, mask-making and film to create augmented, foreign bodies. In this 20-minute work, a joint winner of the inaugural John Truscott Artists Award for 2023, McCartney embodies a maggot, which according to program notes, will guide us “through the in-between” – the space that exists between death and the afterlife.

A small analogue TV, playing a video of blue skies, sits at floor level behind a twitching, trembling, undulating McCartney, encased head to toe in a creamy yellow, cocoon-like sheath (designed by Andrew Treloar). Showing an extraordinary facility for both the incredibly small and much larger movements, McCartney’s performance alternatively intrigues and repels, as the blue skies dissolve to reveal the face of a sharp-toothed, red-lipped woman, whose gums are bleeding black. The unnerving soundtrack is by Makeda Zucco.

Works such as Tiny Infinite Deaths prod and provoke, amply justifying programs like “Three”.






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