REVIEW: Australasian Dance Collective
Australian Dance Collective (ADC) had a rocky start to the year, when its season of “Three”, scheduled to open at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre in March, was cancelled due to flood damage in the venue. Fortunately, ADC was able to access space in the Brisbane Powerhouse for this four day season.
“Three” was originally conceived by Artistic Director Amy Hollingsworth as a vehicle to showcase the versatility and strength of the company dancers in new works. This is only the second of what was visualised as being an annual triple-bill program, after its inaugural 2021 season.
Hollingsworth cares deeply about the unique ephemeral connection between audience and dancers in live performance, and unsurprisingly chooses choreographers that she considers have an innate ability to communicate.
Cass Mortimer Eipper’s Limbic opened the program. His short film, Liminal, (presented last year, also created on ADC dancers), simultaneously screened in the Powerhouse foyer. Only three of the dancers in Liminal remain with the company – Chase Clegg-Robinson, Lonii Garnons-Williams, and Jack Lister, although creative development credit for Limbic also goes to several previous members. Tyrel Dulvarie, and newcomers Harrison Elliott and Lilly King complete the dancer cohort.
In Limbic Eipper looks at the nexus between conscious and subconscious thought – the regulation of our intellect by neural pathways and processes we are largely unaware of. The work largely reflects this broad premise with formations that segue from the group to the individual, and back again, all to the escalating urgency of Alyxandra Dennison’s score.
There is strong use of unison in sections, punctuated by short moments of freeze-frame stillness, or melting into and out of the floor with a fluid viscosity. Other moments have an "in the groove" looseness about them. Dancers break away into different formations – Elliott’s panther-like quality paring well with Lister in a short duet of contact movement.
With its title taken from a Robert Frost poem, choreographer Kate Harmon’s Something There is That Doesn’t Love a Wall examines the emotional barriers we all erect to protect ourselves, but which ultimately restrict our ability to be seen as we are. Her years creating with The Farm are evident in the very grounded, natural and highly expressive movement construct.
A lone dancer walks on stage. Behind her a mass of seething, twisted bodies emerge from side stage, slowly traversing the space as each dancer struggles to climb on top of the other. They all groan and laugh with every push or pull as she leaps on top of the pile. Simple in construction but effective, the mass of struggling bodies moves around the space, dancers disembarking and re-joining, before scattering apart.
The staccato electronic score (Anna Whitaker) underpins what develops into a hi-octane, visceral physicality as each dancer hangs desperately on to the other to stay upright, before breaking free and launching into individual movement of running and diving to the ground.
This is Harmon’s first main stage work for ADC, and although the slow-motion ending was a little too long, ideas supporting the work were clearly expressed.
The Incandescent Dark is a nuanced exploration by Gabrielle Nankivell of the “nebulous territory of presence and absence”. The work reflects on “the upside down, outside in of Camera Obscura”, where you can stand within, but are still absent from, this darkened room of projected reality. Ideas of apertures and holes permeate and are clearly visible in Ben Hughes’s lighting design, where a large, soft edged circle of light gradually shrinks in size as the work draws slowly to a close.
The score by Luke Smiles, of strings and electronic sound that builds in intensity, underpins a fluid continuum of movement as the dancers enter singly into the space. A repeated pattern is of two dancers manipulating a third, making various shapes and movement patterns.
In a later section the dancers, grouping and regrouping, cross the space, jumping, running and rolling into the floor and out of it. Flashes of blackout fracture this movement, as it segues from the pedestrian.
Stylistically this year’s “Three” was less diverse than last year’s, with all works thematically introspective, and a costume design (Zoe Griffiths) of casual clothing also similar across the program. However, as always, the ADC dancers impressed with their sculpted physicality, their technical dexterity, and their unwavering commitment to each piece.
– DENISE RICHARDSON
Photos of the performance were not available at the time of going to press.