Tuesday, December 20, 2016

ON COURSE 2016

Ryan Douglas Stone in "Solus" 

Presented by QL2 Dance,
QL2 Theatre, Gorman Arts Centre, 16th and 17th December, 2016

Reviewed by Bill Stephens

For the last ten years, QL2 Dance has brought together young choreographers engaged in full-time dance studies in Universities around Australia, for its annual “On Course” project. As in previous years, each of the choreographers was provided with access to current Quantum Leap dancers on which to create  a short work for presentation over two nights, and a  choreographic mentor, this year, James Batchelor, himself a former Quantum Leaper, and now making an impact internationally.

With six of the nine participating choreographers being Quantum Leap alumni, this year’s  program provided an opportunity to observe not only the development of these young dance makers, but also a snapshot of current trends in current contemporary dance practice.

James Batchelor’s influence was obvious in the first offering by Rachel Wisby, who had her dancers lumping bricks around the Gorman House courtyard in a curiously unresolved work. Maddy Towler Lovell had her four dancers responding to voice-over instructions to tasks like putting both feet behind their ears, in an amusing exploration of the limitations of the body, and Nasim Patel also elicited smiles as his six dancers executed a series of neatly devised vignettes to depict party culture.

Humour was also present in Patrick Keogh Walker’s work in which two dancers improvised intricate intertwining movements to a story about children playing at wars. Samuel Hamman demonstrated a strong sense of the theatrical with an ambitious work for six dancers, exploring ideas of self-discovery, while Luke Fryer contributed an interesting work, in which his two dancers appeared both on video and in live performance.

However it was three solo pieces which provided the most interesting works of the evening. Alana Stenning utilised the Blue Danube Waltz, pre-recorded voice-overs, several spotlights, and a strongly developed dance technique in her work-in-progress exploring concepts of femininity.

Oonagh Slater drew on elements of tableau vivant to present a superbly conceived and visually arresting work in which she skilfully manipulated oranges to produce a succession of lovely images, and Ryan Douglas Stone made imaginative use of shadows and reflections in his moody and beautifully executed solo entitled “Solus”. 

However, while it was interesting to note that there were ideas aplenty, not many included actual dance. The choreographers seem satisfied to experiment with abstract internal concepts, accompanied by oblique program notes which provided little enlightenment towards understanding their work, prompting one perplexed audience member to ask, during the Q & A which followed the performance, “Who are you making these works for?”

                                                           Photo: Lorna Sim

This review first published in the digital edition of CITY NEWS on 17th December 2016

    

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