• Photo: Stephen Heath
    Photo: Stephen Heath
  • Photo: Stephen Heath
    Photo: Stephen Heath

LINK Dance Company: Plan B
Geoff Gibbs Theatre, Perth
Reviewed 23 October

The original plan for both LINK Dance Company and WAAPA’s second year and third year dance students was to collaborate with the Pina Bausch Foundation in Germany to present their October season, ICON. However, with current travel restrictions causing difficulties, LINK Dance Company instead presented Plan B, a double bill program featuring two contemporary works: Shanghai Boléro by acclaimed French choreographer Didier Théron, and Life, a new work from LINK’s Artistic Director Michael Whaites.

 Shanghai Boléro was created for the Shanghai World Expo in 2010 and premiered in Australia by LINK in 2015. This piece consists of three different choreographic perceptions of Maurice Ravel’s iconic orchestral composition, Boléro. Boléro is known for its repetitive phrases, and Shanghai Boléro explores this repetition further.

 The show opens with a bare stage. Ten female dancers surround the perimeter as the Boléro begins. In black stilettos, they march in military-like fashion to the beat of the snare-drum, creating different patterns across the stage as they walk. As the music progresses, more poses and patterns are woven into the constant flow of the marching. The mathematical and precise choreography explores concepts of female sexualisation.

 The next revision of Boléro is with three male dancers. Instead of marching, this time the bare-chested men bob side-to-side in double-time. The constant bobbing, reminiscent of puppeteering or running soldiers, is broken up by moments of outstretched arms and emotive release.

 The final revision is with 16 dancers. This portion is rooted in stillness and explores tableaus of varying patterns and angles. The pace and frequency of the movement slowly increases to build to a truly moving and climatic end.

 The dancers exert both physical and mental strength for this piece. It demands precision, and the dancers have clearly worked hard to ensure every detail is intended. It is an exceptional performance for LINK and deserving of the enthusiastic applause it received.

 After an interval, the show moves into its second piece. Life is broken up into scenes involving different stories. At times, the transitions between the scenes felt a little disjointed and confusing, but the scenes themselves are vibrant and comical.

 The show begins with two of the female dancers, dressed in modern casual clothes, walking across the stage drunkenly. More dancers appear and speak directly to the audience; the dialogue is about the ice cream machine at McDonalds being broken. Immediately, it is clear that this piece doesn’t take itself too seriously.

 Life is a showcase of athleticism and energy. Despite the movement being largely erratic and busy, the ensemble’s timing is, again, impeccable. There are many light-hearted moments that the dancers clearly have a lot of fun with. For example, in one scene, a dancer screams criticisms at the other dancers through a megaphone as they "rehearse" some choreography. I heard several chuckles from the audience (presumably from those who have heard such comments before).

 The music played throughout includes a mix of pre-recorded rock songs and songs played live onstage by Perth-based rock musician Michael Jelinek. The rock genre is a perfect complement for the performance’s journey through criticism, teen angst and liberation.

Plan B explores a spectrum of societal control, from military-like restriction to angsty teen rebellion. While the two pieces are seemingly unrelated (indeed, one piece was created over 10 years ago while the other was created this year), the juxtaposition of two pieces is thought-provoking and creative.









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