• A promotional image of 'Two x Two'. Photo by Dana Fouras.
    A promotional image of 'Two x Two'. Photo by Dana Fouras.
  • Dancer Daniela Zambrano performing with composer Vincent Sebastian in 'The Pulse'.
    Dancer Daniela Zambrano performing with composer Vincent Sebastian in 'The Pulse'.
  • A scene from Lewis Major's 'Unfolding'. Photo by Camlight Productions.
    A scene from Lewis Major's 'Unfolding'. Photo by Camlight Productions.
  • Jill Crovisier performs her solo, 'HALFHORSE HALFWOMAN'.
    Jill Crovisier performs her solo, 'HALFHORSE HALFWOMAN'.
  • Clem Benson performing 'Lament'. Photo by Camlight Productions.
    Clem Benson performing 'Lament'. Photo by Camlight Productions.
  • 'Epilogue', choreographed by Lewis Major (the photo shows Pascal Marty, not Clementine Benson, reviewed here). Photo by Chris Herzfeld.
    'Epilogue', choreographed by Lewis Major (the photo shows Pascal Marty, not Clementine Benson, reviewed here). Photo by Chris Herzfeld.

Main Theatre, Adelaide College of the Arts
Reviewed February 2024 

Choreographer Lewis Major is presenting a number of productions during the 2024 Adelaide Fringe, Rich Mix and Maliphant x Major being just two of them. Major, from Lucindale in the south eastern region of South Australia, has made a career of independent and commissioned creations, and toured to six continents and widespread acclaim.

Maliphant x Major runs for 50 minutes and showcases three separate works: Two x Two (Maliphant) plus Unfolding and Epilogue (short version) from Major.

For his work, much awarded UK-based choreographer Russell Maliphant has collaborated with lighting designer Michael Hulls, who is credited with the spare, intimate lighting. For this performance, dancers Clementine Benson and Stefaan Morrow flawlessly executed Maliphant’s gestural, restrained but compelling choreography, which was once performed by Sylvie Guillem as a solo version. The contemplative work renders dancers, lighting and sound score (by Andy Cowton) inseparable. The choreography forges a kind of call and response between dancers, sound and light: it is never entirely clear which element leads. A mysterious spell is cast by figures imprisoned in their own square pool of light, which as it fades bathes the bodies in a rapidly shifting, intangible golden glimmer, a little like a 19th century zoetrope animation.

Originally designed for 12 dancers, this version of Unfolding is a work for four. With Fausto Brusamolino’s intense, imaginative digital lighting, Major has created a world within a world, the stage becoming a precarious landscape to be negotiated by the dancers: in this case the exceptional Benson, Morrow, Jareen Wee and Macon Riley. Pulsing accompaniment (James Brown) fuses synergistically with choreography and lighting, recalling the collaborative ventures of Merce Cunningham, John Cage and Robert Rauschenberg where each component is independent but, when viewed in combination, is elevated to something more. Unfolding morphs from a highly futuristic intensity, the dancers resembling a perpetual kinetic sculpture, to a more organic, tender and humanist mood as they shed their black costumes to interact more intimately, in a near naked state.

Epilogue was originally a solo work for French dancer Pascal Marty. The music by is by Dane Yates after Claude Debussy and Ryuichi Sakamoto. In this shortened version, Clementine Benson is mesmerising as a lone, sculptural figure, covered in fine white powder, executing sinuous, spiral sequences on a bare stage. The powder itself contributes to the choreographic language as patterns emerge on the floor surface by virtue of the dancer’s motion; the figure a mediation on artistic harmony and classicism while celebrating human endurance.


Major’s Rich Mix project presented four works, one of which was another solo outing for the talented Clementine Benson in Two - the contracted version of Maliphant’s Two x Two discussed above. To begin the program Colombian-born Daniela Zambrano (Plonova Dance) performed her own choreography The Pulse with live music from composer Vincent Sebastian. Both dancer and musician moved across the space establishing a relationship of sorts, to each other and to the soundscape, which combined live and recorded composition on a range of percussion instruments. The supple, undulating movement configurations from Zambrano remained mostly at one level with occasional floor-based sequences. There was a definite tribal influence, sonically and movement-wise. Though watchable and well executed, the work was somewhat repetitive, with minimal choreographic variation.

Performer Emma Riches took on the demanding HALFHORSE HALFWOMAN choreographed by multidisciplinary artist Jill Crovisier from Luxembourg. Clothed in a dun-coloured suit and beat up boots, Riches enters the space in silence, her countenance focussed, alert and tensely observant throughout. Idiosyncratic, precise movement and strong gestural sequences couple with rhythmic travelling progressions, the dancer galloping or trotting across the space, contrasted with fall and recovery work or abrupt stillnesses. The dancer vocalizes equine “huffs” and whinnies and the soundscape interrupts with announcer-like voiceovers, crowd sounds and more. The title here recalls centaur myths but by placing the figure in the contemporary context of horseracing the choreographer draws our attention to the ethics around human/animal interaction, and the contrast between the natural and human imposed environment. Riches is an elegant, technical performer who committed physically and emotionally to this energetic piece.

The finale saw Morrow and Benson reunite for Lament, an excerpt of Major’s Monolith. It is set to a haunting song from Corsican group A Filetta singing in traditional polyphonic style. In low-level amber light Morrow portrayed a reader engrossed in his book. This dancer is quite astonishing, combining exceptional technique with expressive, fluid movement that powers across a space. In time, the reader sleeps and Benson appears as a dream remnant. As this figure is drawn toward the sleeper, Benson’s controlled extensions and turns are exquisite, the dream emerging into reality as she finally connects with the human in repose. Another facet of the choreography requires Benson to draw upon herself with ink. Her precise movements design the trajectory of marks on her body, as if themes from the dreamer’s book are imprinted on the wraith as she emerges into corporeality.


(All photos are promotional images, not photos of this particular season.)

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