Sunday, April 14, 2019


Curated by Liz Lea for Ausdance ACT
Ralph Wilson Theatre, Gorman Arts Centre
12th and 13th April, 2019.

Reviewed by Bill Stephens

Now in its fourth year, this program of works in Ausdance ACT’s “Escalate” program, which provides professional mentorship for young ACT dance makers working towards developing a professional dance practice, continues to evolve. This year the addition of film mentorship by the 2018 Artist of the Year, Kim Beamish, has resulted in its strongest program yet in terms of performance and presentation. 

"Unity" danced by Canberra College
even works were presented in a satisfying program which commenced with a performance by 13 dancers from Canberra College of a work entitled “Unity”.  Costumed in long flowing beige costumes, the dancers executed a series of tightly choreographed patterns contrasting flowing unison movement with graceful individual sequences to Rino’s Prayer by Leftfield, to explore themes of unity, feminine strength and individuality.

Favour Wallace in "Self Love" 
Striking West African dancer, Favour Wallace, dramatically costumed in a black, under a fluorescent red veil, brought professional flair to her own choreography  interpreting  “Self Love”,  performed to Latin rhythms, against Kim Beamish’ striking slow-motion close-ups of her  head and shoulders.  

Bailey White drew on various urban styles for his work “Nostalgia” in which he was joined by Vince Sorilla and Brock Kershaw in a complex work in which Vince Sorilla’s moves were intriguingly mirrored in Kim Beamish’s film of the three in action.

Natsuko Yonezawa tackled the problem of social isolation with her work, “The Hikikomori”. It commenced with her own film intoning sombre statistics on homelessness around the world, then progressed into short, sharp interludes depicting isolation, and then to longer solos impressively performed by dancers, Silas Manapsal and Tahi Kentwell. The result was both thought-provoking and entertaining.

Nicholas Jachno chose an original score by Maluil Aleer Deng for his piece, “An Observant Man”, in which he explored the complexities of the system of nerves and networks in the brain concerned with instinct and mood. Utilising abstract film projected on to the three walls surrounding the performance area, Jachno created an immersive environment in which he drew on his own strong dance technique to create powerful abstract floor patterns and contortions.

The most amusing work of the evening was created and delightfully performed by Courtney Mattick who drew on the soundtrack of Baz Luhmann’s,   “Everybody is Free to Wear Sunscreen” commercial to create a funny work, with a sting in its tail.

Alana Stenning in "Great Woman, Wolf Woman, Bone Woman"
The final work in the program was also a solo, created and performed by Alana Stenning, entitled, “Great Woman, Wolf Woman, Bone Woman”. Taking her inspiration from the story of the Wolf Woman and working to a soundscape created by Kimmo Vennonen, Stenning took the stage costumed in a bright red suit over a white shirt. She confidently strode the stage before eventually stripping away the suit to complete the dance clad only in the shirt, and surrounded by white sticks and bones.

“Escalate 1V” is notable for the diversity and originality of its topics, for its imaginative lighting and presentation, for its innovative use of film and indeed, the overall excellence of the dancers. Special mention is also due to the work of the mentors and mentees who contributed  their expertise towards achieving such a stimulating outcome. 

                                             Photos by Andrew Sikorski, Atelier Photography