• Zachary Lopez, Zoe Wozniak, Patrick Oluanaigh in ADT's 'Marrow'. Photo by Morgan Sette.
    Zachary Lopez, Zoe Wozniak, Patrick Oluanaigh in ADT's 'Marrow'. Photo by Morgan Sette.
  • Zoe Wozniak and Brianna Kell. Photo by Morgan Sette.
    Zoe Wozniak and Brianna Kell. Photo by Morgan Sette.
  • Danza del Arte ensemble performing 'Water Mirror'.
    Danza del Arte ensemble performing 'Water Mirror'.
  • Another scene from 'Water Mirror'. Photo by Christina Mishell.
    Another scene from 'Water Mirror'. Photo by Christina Mishell.

The Odeon Theatre 
Australian Dance Theatre 
Reviewed March 14 

AC Arts Main Theatre 
Danza del Arte 
Reviewed March 16 

Both Fringe and Festival proffered a feast of culturally diverse events in 2024 and these two performances in the last week of “Mad March” are linked by consideration for tradition, ritual, connection and human potential, not to mention energy levels switched to maximum. Another striking detail this year has been how the excellence of some Fringe works, across multiple genres, has equalled the quality of the main Festival offerings. 

For Marrow (Adelaide Festival) Daniel Riley has forged a creative collaboration with ADT’s six dancers, senior Kaurna/Ngarrindjeri Elder Uncle Moogy Sumner AM (cultural dramaturg), James Howard (music and sound), Matthew Adey (lighting and design) and Ailsa Patterson (costume design). Developing Marrow in the wake of the failed Voice referendum, Riley commented that this work is “… a choreographic course correction for a nation in need of a new direction” (– InDaily). A bold claim but not without substance given the compelling totality of Marrow and its visceral impact. 

The stage of the Odeon transformed into a curtained enclosure – black for the most part with cream fabric slanting closer to the stage, illuminated in various colours throughout to indicate sunrise, night, or dusk. This arena might represent a contemporary party space or a liminal zone between harsh reality and an ideal future, and even prior to lights up Howard’s thrumming, rhythmic electronic music dominated. Continuing in similar vein throughout the work, this invigorating wall of sound was a force that sat at the loud end of the spectrum

The six dancers, Karra Nam (Kaurna, Narungga, Chinese), Sebastian Geilings, Brianna Kell, Zachary Lopez, Patrick O’Luanaigh and Zoe Wozniak, formed a strong, cohesive ensemble. The choreography consists of high-energy contemporary vocabulary with recurring gestural motifs, a complex amalgam of dance and imagery including unison sequences, pedestrian pacing and traversing, duets and strong floor work. The dancers also manipulated a rectangle of black cloth that in turn indicated a covering, a shelter, or barrier. A disturbing image unfolded as the transformation of that cloth saw it scrunched into a shape resembling a swaddled child, pinned securely, and for a time suspended on an upstage wire: the symbol of deaths in custody plus generations of abuse of Aboriginal people devastatingly clear. Although this fabric prop was generally handled well, there were hints of awkwardness which will hopefully improve with time and repetition.

Coupled with the fabric, discreet devices were employed by dancers to generate smoke trails that hovered evocatively above the cloth or in other areas before dissipating. This ritual continued at intervals, the haze and cloudiness rendering a thought-provoking dichotomy. For First Nations folk smoke is cleansing, a spiritual necessity. It can also be regenerative, some native seeds only able to germinate through contact with smoke. On the other hand, as our worsening climate crises have revealed, smoke also signifies danger and destruction.  

There is much to unpack in Marrow but this is definitely Riley’s finest production since his appointment as Artistic Director, many creative elements coalescing to produce a riveting and memorable addition to ADT’s repertory. While exploring dark themes, this work also speaks to the possibility of reconciliation and the shared human experience of hope.  


Choreographer Paulina Quinteros brought Water Mirror to the Fringe after successful Sydney seasons. This was one of a number of Fringe productions that equalled the professionalism of Festival offerings, a captivating fusion where contemporary dance meets Taiko drumming and Japanese ritual. Like ADT’s Marrow, a rich collaborative process transpired to produce the work.  

Beginning with a subtle entrance by one drummer, a carefully placed bowl of water represented the Japanese misogi purification ceremony. The subtle lighting at this stage included a projected image of the full moon upon the largest drum upstage, an evocative start. This measured, stately entrance style was maintained by each performer during many transitions. Another motif established ceremonious exchanges as instruments or props were passed between performers. There was great beauty in these unhurried interactions, welcome moments of contrast amidst the high energy sequences. 

An impressive group of young dancers form Quinteros’s ensemble for the Adelaide season. They executed the energetic, high speed, sometimes acrobatic choreography with focus, commitment and technical excellence, including admirable command of the precision unison work. The movements of their limbs echoed calligraphy pen strokes and the energetic slash and punch of the drummers’ powerful arms. Lily Alcock executed acrobatic solos and led powerful duets with breathtaking accuracy. Eliza Davis performed an exquisitely controlled solo demanding stillness and strength in extensions and balance; her hands, meanwhile, fluttered independently of the rest of her body, like delicate hummingbirds or ripples upon a pond. Bridget MacAllister’s graceful solo included balancing a length of dowel while performing deep pliés, revolves and lunges. Lauren Brereton and Kayla Hawkins completed the group and led with clear-cut strength, presence and stamina. 

Dancers and drummers appeared to inject each other with transferred energy, the intricate, inspiring synchronisation of rhythm and vigour also clearly affecting the audience. The presence, stamina and intensity of the drummers equalled that of the dancers. Ryuji Hamada (principal percussionist) and Sophia Ang are both long standing members of acclaimed Sydney-based company, Taikoz. Hirotaka Ai (principal guest percussionist) flew from Japan and percussionist Joe Small came from the USA at their own expense, such is their regard for the work. The extreme physical commitment needed to achieve excellence as a taiko drummer complemented the strengths of both dancers and choreography. 

Composers Ryuji Hamada, Felix Gregg-Partos, and Ian Cleworth (Artistic Director of Taikoz) have contributed much to Water Mirror as does the subtle, atmospheric lighting plot. Like ADT’s Marrow, Quinteros’s work deserves a wider audience. 


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