• Natalie Allen.
Photo: Tashi Hall.
    Natalie Allen. Photo: Tashi Hall.
  • Mani Mae, Gomes Mitchell Spadaro and Michelle Aitken. 
Photo: Tashi Hall.
    Mani Mae, Gomes Mitchell Spadaro and Michelle Aitken. Photo: Tashi Hall.

Various Northbridge buildings; reviewed February 23

 Curated and mentored by Tyrone Earl Lraé Robinson, MoveMoveMove is an eclectic promenade performance consisting of three separate works across various venues in Perth's Northbridge.

 The first performance, Unearthly (created by Bernadette Lewis, Natalie Allen and Daisy Sanders), is a confronting and distressing piece on sexual violence. The work moves through two different spaces in the basement of the Rechabite (a near-century old building) with two women (Lewis and Allen) leading the way. As the dancers compellingly stare down, and get uncomfortably close to, the audience members, they make it all too easy to follow them throughout the performance.

 The electronic sounds designed by Tess Stephenson surge and become overwhelmingly loud in the second room as the two dancers switch between sluggish and jolting movement, creating shapes of injury and pain. Both dancers, impressively committed to the role, scream, collapse to the floor, and slowly remove their shirts to reveal their naked torsos. Aggressively masculine movement is then contrasted by tableaux depicting vulnerability and fear, with the final moment poignantly depicting the victim’s surrender. The dancers’ portrayal of both the victim and the aggressor is convincing and deeply disturbing. This performance is graphic and unnerving, and is exceptionally effective in placing the taboo topic of sexual violence in the spotlight. 

 The audience is then ushered to the next venue, a garden outside the State Theatre Centre, for Lauren Catellani’s work, To Place. The performance begins with a large white tarpaulin draped over three dancers (Mitchell Spadaro, Michelle Aitken and Mani Mae Gomes) who are lying in the garden bed. They emerge and slowly hop through the garden bed, picking up white wooden planks along the way. The dancers then project images of squiggly lines onto the walls surrounding the venue using an overhead projector.

 In the unusual space of a garden bed, the performance initially appears intriguing, and I commend Catellani and the performers for their experimentation. However, as the piece develops, its purpose becomes less clear, creating an underwhelming and confusing experience. 

 The audience then makes its way to the Blue Room Theatre for the final performance, a one-woman piece created by Tahlia Russell called The Walk. Beginning in a tiny room decorated to look like the inside of a cloud, a woman (Russell) wearing a rhinestoned bodysuit, stands in front of a mobile phone projecting a sharp pink light. The woman picks up the phone and moves loosely, like a teenager dancing in her bedroom. The costuming by Kaitlin Brindley gives off pop star vibes and the dancer’s movement exudes confidence.

 However, the dancer soon moves to another larger and darker room where she curls into a ball and writhes on the floor with a mirror stuck to her face. She painfully makes her way towards a singular, floating cloud strung from the ceiling and, eventually, sets herself free of the mirror. The piece is a clear contemplation of the impact of social media on our sense of self-worth, and Russell's movement is both elegant and alarming. 

 Despite being (for the most part) captivating, the combination of the three works left me feeling troubled, dispirited and quietly reflective. This may have been the creators’ intention, however, the title "MoveMoveMove", and the description provided for each piece misleadingly suggests otherwise. Judging from the murmurs and a few conversations of the audience members, many were a bit disappointed by the unexpected nature of the performance. Regardless, the work offered a challenging and enjoyable evening.


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