Friday, July 30, 2010


QL2 Centre for Youth Dance.
Canberra Playhouse,
28 -31st July 2010

Reviewed by Bill Stephens

The annual QL2 performance in the Canberra Playhouse offers many pleasures, not the least of which is the opportunity to see the work of some of country's foremost contemporary dance choreographers. This year those choreographers were Anton, Jodie Farrugia, Adam Wheeler, Marnie Palomares and Ruth Osborne, each of whom created on the QL2 dancers an individual ensemble piece which explored a central theme.

The theme this year was "Night.Time." and it was fascinating to watch how differently the choreographers interpreted it...all working to evocative soundscapes composed by Adam Ventura.

Marnie Polamares set a pensive mood in her piece, "Night. Light.". Following filmed projections of busy city traffic, the dancers enter, as at the end of a busy day and perform a series of cleverly choreographed rituals suggesting arriving home, removing outer clothing and preparing for bed. One especially lovely moment when lines of girls flicked their hair back to form arches remains a powerful image from this interesting piece.

In the next section, entitled "Night.Mind.", Anton explores the seemingly unlikely topic of rapid eye movement sleep. The result however is an arresting work which includes a passage in which white clad dancers perform rapid staccato movements in front of projections of brain scans.

Jodie Farrugia chose white pillows as the motif for what is perhaps the most inventive piece in the program, "Night.Stir.". Contrasted against a black background, the dancers manipulate the pillows to create a series of striking, often spectacularly acrobatic images in an original and captivating work.

According to the program Adam Wheeler's contribution, "Night.Life.", is based on improvisation and collaborative task-based exercises, and  features a series of aggressive, muscular abstract night-time street scenes, to create a gritty, slightly disturbing, though engrossing, vision.

Completely contrasting was Ruth Osborne's light-hearted tribute to night-shift workers, "Night.Scape.", which provided a colourful and neatly optimistic comment on the night-time theme, before transitioning into the cleverly choreographed finale, which not only referenced each choreographer's contribution, but also demonstrated Osborne's admirable talent for creating exciting mass movement.

"Night.Time." is an exhilarating and persuasive demonstration  of the achievements of the QL2 Centre for Youth Dance. The determinedly ensemble nature of the challenging choreography, together with the highly professional technical presentation, ensures that despite the variances in the abilities of the individual dancers, every dancer is seen at their best and given the opportunity to test themselves against other dancers, not only from the Canberra region, but, as in this particular program, also against dancers from Perth, Brisbane, Melbourne and Thailand. The results are inspiring, and not only for the dancers.