Wednesday, December 18, 2013

ON COURSE 2013


QL2 DANCE, CANBERRA.

QL2 Theatre, Gorman House,

Sunday 15th December.

Reviewed by Bill Stephens

For the last six years, QL2 Dance has been bringing together current dance students from tertiary institutions across Australasia to choreograph, collaborate and perform in an initiative entitled “ON COURSE”.  Over a two week period, young choreographers are provided with the opportunity and resources to choreograph a short work of no longer in length than 10 minutes.

This year participating choreographers came from the Queensland University of Technology (QUT), Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA), Victorian College of Arts (VCA), Deakin University and New Zealand School of Dance (NZSD). Some, though certainly not all, had participated in previous QL2 programs. Their dancers are current members of Quantum Leap, some of the choreographers themselves and others attracted to Canberra by the opportunity to participate in the “On Course” project. They also receive technical assistance to realise their ideas, as well as mentorship by Ruth Osborne and Adelina Larsson.The resultant works are given two performances over two nights before a paying audience.

Given the limited time at their disposal, a polished end performance is not the main aim of the project. The focus is more towards the exploration of ideas, as well as providing opportunities for the young choreographers to engage with dancers from other institutions. Most of the works shown in “On Course 2013” however were indeed surprisingly polished and well danced, indicating how well these young emerging choreographers are equipped to produce interesting dance while coping with tight deadlines.

It was interesting to see the emergence, of so many young male choreographers and dancers this year. Five of the seven works were choreographed by men. Not unexpectedly most tackled weighty issues with their works, but often with an engaging and refreshing dash of humour.

"Sway" choreographed by Harry Morrissey
Photo: Lorna Sim

Harry Morrissey from WAAPA utilised six male dancers to explore concepts of identity and individuality in his work “Sway”. Created to a spoken voice sound track, Morrissey drew on the individual skills of his dancers to perform a series of quirky duets and solos punctuated by unison movement to create a good-humoured, thoughtful work.

Also from WAAPA, Dean Ryan Lincoln worked with six dancers, two girls and four boys, and an interesting movement vocabulary  to explore issues affecting existence in his work, “Circle of Nothing”, danced to a soundscape, some of which he composed himself, and  which included voices intoning statements such as “Have you  written a letter to your mother today ?”.

Eliza Sanders, a former Canberra dancer now with New Zealand School of Dance, made use of striking props in her solo work, “Queen”. Among them, a huge set of buffalo horns and a fur collar with which she created a series of striking visual images during her athletic solo.
Eliza Sanders in "Queen"
Photo: Lorna Sim

Sanders also made an amusing appearance, singing and dancing as a somewhat-confused Kate Bush-like character, in a witty piece, choreographed and danced by VCA student, Chad McLachlan, entitled “Base Point”.

Mackenzie Burn, from QUT, created a lovely work on six female dancers to explore the phenomenon of child marriage. Although “Lapse” contained some lovely moments, without knowing the Kristyn Tremble artwork which inspired the piece, it was difficult to know whether it achieved its purpose, but it was, never-the-less, an engrossing and visually rewarding work.

Another former Canberra dancer, Paul Jackson, now at Deakin University, offered “Quartet”, a work for two girls and two boys, danced to “By the Wall” by Tomas Dvorak, which included some quite lovely moments in which the dancer’s movements suggested leaves gently blowing in the wind.

“Of Primeval Human” was the name given to the work of another WAAPA dancer, Robert Tinning. Choreographed on two female dancers and four male dancers, this impressive abstract work was notable for its large sweeping movements and impressive floor work, and for its satisfying conclusion, one of the few works which didn’t just stop at the end of the music. 
Jack Riley in "Building Elvis"
Photo: Lorna Sim

Prior to the seven programmed works, audiences were treated to a sneak-peek of a moody solo, “Building Elvis” choreographed by Ruth Osborne and  Jack Riley, and danced beautifully by Riley to Elvis Presley songs, arranged in a soundscape by Kimmo Vennonen. This work was a commission by the National Portrait Gallery to celebrate the current exhibition of Elvis Presley photographs.

Several of the works made extensive use of video projections and all had the advantage of Guy Harding’s excellent lighting design.

Following the performance, as is usual at QL2 presentations, the audience had the opportunity to question the assembled chorographers and dancers about their various works. Their answers provided revealing insights into the motivation and inspirations of the works just performed.  

  

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