Lucy Guerin Inc: Split, 3 April
Joshua Pether: Jupiter Orbiting, 5 April
The Singapore Project: Forecast 2.0, 6 April
This is the third Supercell Festival in as many years. Beginning modestly in 2017 at the Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts (JWCOCA) as a celebration of contemporary dance, it has continued to grow in its scope and delivery, and this year includes support from all four of Queensland’s dance companies.
Confidently rebranded as a “festival of contemporary dance”, and the only annual festival of its kind in the country, Supercell’s theme for 2019, “The View From Here: Australia and the Asia Pacific”, enabled multiple perspectives. The week-long feast comprised international, national and local performances (of works both established and in development), master classes, workshops and, for the first time, film.
The four key works had only one performance each, and unfortunately another commitment meant missing "HK Stories", a suite of three works from Hong Kong artists Joseph Lee, Rebecca Pik Kei Wong, and Wayson Poon. However, the season began strongly with Lucy Guerin’s award-winning work Split, a carefully crafted, reflective piece that explores the dilemmas of a world of diminishing space and resources. Performed by Lilian Steiner and Melanie Lane, it was mesmerising. (See Maggie Tonkin’s March 2018 review for Dance Australia).
Joshua Pether’s solo work, Jupiter Orbiting, is described as “an immersive exploration of personal identity through science fiction narrative”. With a focus on mental health and our ability to empathise, the work has moments that engage and connect clearly, but others in the mid-section that are less absorbing.
As the audience enters the space, the dancer (Pether) – clad in a grey unitard and a fluoro pink wig, slightly askew – continuously rearranges a selection of Lego pieces on a white clothed oblong table downstage centre. Stepping into a large blow-up ring of a pink flamingo, he scatters coloured paper pieces on the floor and films the Lego pieces with his mobile. The images are then projected onto a screen upstage.
From this engaging opening the momentum slows as the dancer, now in a black unitard, gazes at projections of superheros. Another section has him down to his underpants and wearing a horse’s head of silicone, as he uses his phone, again, to project images of the inside the head. The work concludes more strongly, as he rips up the table cloth in a frenzy of contorted spasms, to a discordant soundscape.
The Singapore Projects's “Forecast 2.0" comprised three works, all questioning identity in today’s society. Unform, by T.H.E. Dance Company’s Kuik Swee Boon, uses three performers to individually represent one person’s influence on global issues. Brandon Khoo showed a remarkable lightness and fluidity in his opening solo section, joined by the equally lithe Anthea Seah and Lynette Lim.
Double, choreographed by Albert Tiong, is an engaging look at the way we are consumed by social media. Two performers, Gan Kee Lui and Syaril Amri Bin Mohammed Tajuddin, both in black shirts and jeans, stride side by side around a circular pattern projected onto the floor, to the percussive 2/4 rhythmic soundscape. The outside dancer often has to run to catch up. They pick up speed, and then break formation with sweeping movements of the arms and legs. It is a neatly rounded work, with subtle humour.
The highlight of the three works was the shortest – Amelia Chong’s solo work, Namuh. Chong’s aim is to show the complexity of the human form and to challenge perceptions. A silver tarpaulin on the floor upstage left undulates in the dim light like an amorphous beast, as the dancer (Chong) moves underneath into what appears to be an upright position, until her leg, unfolding from underneath, reveals she is actually on her head. Once out from underneath the tarp, her movement cleverly fuses the contemporary idiom with clear references to Eastern practice, through use of upper body isolations, and strong articulation of the fingers. It was an engaging piece, and together with the other two works showed the diversity and dexterity of the Singaporean artists.
There was much more on offer at Supercell, all of it showing the wonderful variety that is the crux of contemporary dance. 2020 promises by all accounts to be even bigger. My one request is for more programs or handout sheets before each performance.
– DENISE RICHARDSON
Pictured top is Albert Tiong's 'Double'. Photo: Eamonn Sweeney.