Australian Dance Theatre Canberra Theatre - 13th and 14th June 2013
Reviewed by Bill Stephens
Following on the world premiere in Canberra of Garry Stewart’s newest work, “Monument”, for the Australian Ballet, it was fascinating to have the opportunity to see one of his earlier works just a matter of weeks later, with the images of “Monument” still remaining fresh in the memory. It was also rewarding to see “G” performed by the company on which it was created, The Australian Dance Theatre which Stewart now heads, and in the presence of the A.D.T. founder, Elizabeth Cameron Dalman who now heads Mirramu Dance Company in the Canberra region.
Though “G” had its first performances in Adelaide in 2008 and has toured widely, it has since been significantly revised by the choreographer, and as seen in Canberra for the first time, remains a brilliantly powerful, provocative and testing work, both for the dancers and the audience.
Using the classical ballet “Giselle” as his starting point, Stewart has explored, in contemporary dance vocabulary, a number of propositions arising from the psychological, emotional and narrative structure of the ballet. “G” is performed in front of a huge LED screen suspended at the back of the stage above the dancers. At various points it spells out the names of characters from “Giselle” as well as random words and phrases, so that the audience is kept informed and reminded of the source of the work. This LED screen also changes colour constantly, presumably to reflect the emotions being portrayed by the dancers.
Throughout the piece the 10 dancers move continuously across a narrow brilliantly- lit strip of stage, occasionally performing short solos or duets to a remorseless sound score composed by Luke Smiles. At various points some dancers are dressed in bright green tulle skirts reminiscent of the Wilis in “Giselle”. At other times they wear green track suits or bikinis designed by Daniel Jaber and Gaelle Mellis. In one section a woman dances topless, as do all of the men at other times. Despite all the clues though, it’s often difficult to recognise the connection between what is being performed and the source material. That aside, “G” , with Stewarts brilliantly inventive and stunningly executed choreography provides a remarkable showcase for ten exceptionally brave and talented dancers and a thrilling dance experience for its audience.