Saturday, May 12, 2012

Me Right Now
QL2 presents Quantum Leap
The Playhouse, 9 – 12 May
Reviewed by Samara Purnell

The Quantum Leapers in “Me Right Now” look at identity and today’s expectations in becoming a man or woman, whilst finding and embracing their own identity and celebrating the joy and innocence of youth.
This production seamlessly blends four choreographers’ work into an impressive performance.
The dancers manipulated a rope representing a timeline, a tightrope and a one-way street, in Lina Limosani’s piece. Bearcage provide the multimedia component and an animated white line echoes the rope on stage, morphing into various road signs and symbols.
The group worked well together: Struggling, resisting, travelling, overtaking and being left behind all represented cleverly with good lighting design. The idea was fresh but the “well-worn” choreography was a little disappointing.  In particular the specific hand and arm movements and repetitions have been seen so regularly in recent amateur contemporary dance. It was a little messy and the initial sound bytes were familiar and predictable. The dancers and audience may have benefitted from slightly more challenging choreography.
The role of men in society, as provider, lover, father, was examined in Matt Cornell’s piece. His choreography was right on the mark, with the boys partnering each other in this polished performance, endearingly and strongly danced. Cornell’s work was a highlight of the evening. One of the boys summarised the dilemma of being at once strong but emotionally sensitive: Men are allowed to cry, but only three times a year. At preordained movies.
Gentle humour hinted at uncertainty, insecurity and courage to join the rat-race of life and step up to the mark. Several of the boys showed good isolation work and the group danced staccato phrases well. Sometimes fighting each other, often helping each other, the boys in business shirts danced their way towards manhood.
Individuals were not featured as strongly as they have been in other QL productions, but still, the solos didn’t always blend smoothly into the choreography. However impressive or skilful, movement between spaces on stage and “tricks”, works best when there is a purpose or meaning behind it, or when it carries the momentum and story, rather than simply to highlight an individual’s skills.
Very intriguing and a bit “different”, was the the girls’ featured act, by Jade Dewi Tyas-Tunggal. Adam Ventoura’s soundscape was a perfect blend of timeless, meditative music for the girls to present their take on becoming women and to subtly explore female sexuality and the dynamics of teenage friendship. The piece began with a Middle Eastern vibe in its movement and music, but the costumes were more like togas. One would assume this was to give it an ageless feel as though in some form or another, women have experienced these challenges since time immemorial.
The backdrop of animations that subtly complimented the performance changed to extreme close ups of girls lips, painted in bright red lipstick, slowly parting to reveal dice. It was fascinating and mesmerising but a few times became so distracting that it was easy to miss segments of what was happening on stage. It literally was “in your face”.
Becoming a woman and finding and feeling confident in individual identities was represented by the dancers donning high heels. Some girls walked tall, while another stumbled, until, aided by her peers, she is helped and manipulated into a “sexy” girl and off she goes to attract a mate.
This understatedly refreshing and enjoyable piece ends in a poignant moment, when a young suitor tenderly removes the high heels of the young girl as the next group of dancers take over on stage.
Unfortunately, more than once, the girls’ timing was significantly out of sync with each other and so it was easy to default to specific dancers including Kylie Murray, who was physically expressive and obviously one of the most experienced dancers. The age range was between 14 and 25, which is few years older than usual, but the dancers appeared reasonably uniform in age and skill, which worked well.
On the whole, the costuming didn’t add significantly to the show. Even within budgetary constraints, using the costumes to more extensively add meaning or layers would help.
The cardio-taxing finale, from Ruth Osborne, featured good group cooperation and included several lifts, which counterbalanced the simplistic choreography. It was given life by the expressiveness and emotional conviction of the dancers, which appeared stronger than in previous QL productions.
This was an uplifting, sweet, joy to watch, professionally presented and danced and a great team production.
An edited version of this review will appear on the citynews website and magazine.

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