Theatre 3 - ActonReviewed by Bill Stephens
Performance 18th October 2014
Performance 18th October 2014
There can be few better antidotes to any complaints about today’s youth than a visit to one of QL2’s presentations.
“For the Win” is the most recent and the result of an intensive 6 week rehearsal period for 47 young entry level dancers seeking to join the Quantum Leap youth dance ensemble. The ages of the dancers range from 8 to 18 and their abilities vary widely. Some had travelled from Cowra, Yass, Braidwood and Queanbeyan to prepare for this presentation. The results are astonishing. As Ruth Osborne points out in her program notes, the purpose behind “For the Win” is not so much about the individual abilities of the dancers, but rather to give them “an introduction to working with a choreographer and moving beyond just “learning the steps”. This includes thinking about concepts and emotions, creating new movement through improvisation and tasks, selecting and refining the most effective movement ideas, and rehearsing until it all flows”.
That the end result of these six weeks of intensive rehearsals is also so entertaining is a tribute to Osborne, and the three other Canberra-based choreographers who have created works to fulfil this brief.
Presented over an hour, without interval or interruption, “For the Win” consists of 7 different sections, some created by individual choreographers, and others, particularly the opening and closing sections, the combined work of all four. The works were all ensemble pieces, and all the dancers participated in each section, regardless of age. So when not actually on stage, they were kept very busy managing the many attractive costume changes.
The program notes mention that the dancers contributed ideas and movement material to the creative process. The choreographers’ task was to combine these ideas with their own, to create a cohesive and entertaining work, utilising the varying skills of the participants. No small challenge, especially given the varying ages and skills of all concerned.
As the title suggests, the theme of the program was about winning and competition. Jamie Winbank’s section entitled “A winner is someone that wins”, utilized various competitive activities, often occurring simultaneously, to set up a series of eye dazzling sequences. Having himself come through the Quantum Leap process, Winbank seemed particularly adroit at creating effective visual imagery from limited resources.
Later in the program Winbank teamed with Alison Plevey to create a delightfully girlie work called “A win for the Girls” ,which commenced with the girls gleefully miming clichéd feminine tasks, before bursting out into representations of the contemporary woman’s real world.
Plevey’s own section, “Mind Games” also used the full ensemble to excellent effect, demonstrating her mastery of imaginative group movement.
Jake Kuzma contributed two sections, “All Aboard the loser express” and “Wintendo”. In both he made good use of interesting music choices, and “Wintendo” included some imaginative breakdance references, including a rather wonderful robotic duo.
All the choreographers featured the special talents of individual dancers to create often surprising moments, but the emphasis was definitely on spectacular ensemble movement, particularly evident in the opening and closing sections. Especially impressive, given the relatively short rehearsal period, was the polish achieved throughout, evident in accurate spacings, straight lines, and the engagement, confidence and enthusiasm of each individual participant.
As with all QL2 presentations the choreographers and dancers were provided with superb technical support, especially Kelly McGannon’s excellent lighting design and crisp sound which insured that the interesting music choices, including original compositions by Adam Ventura, were heard to advantage.