Tuesday, March 8, 2022

'LESS' by Australian Dance Party, directed by Alison Plevey, Dairy Rd, Canberra until 12 March 2022, reviewed by Simone Penkethman


Photo by Lorna Sim

Brutalist architecture, industrial landscapes and site-specific performance are a few of my favourite things. Ticking all these boxes and more, this show was a seamless blending of place and art.

This site-specific dance work is named for the space in which its set. ‘LESS’ is a monumental architectural sculpture consisting of 36 square, concrete columns with a circular ramp and viewing platform.

Standing tall at the top of a gentle slope, quiet water flows across square, concrete levels at its base and into a newly landscaped watercourse and park below.  

The crowd gathered around sunset beneath skies that had mercifully cleared after a
wet week. The sculpture and park run alongside design studios and hospitality businesses and the space was active with people out on a Friday.

Some audience members sat on small stools with their feet in shallow water and others watched from the ramp.

As light faded the dancers entered the space, walking up through the watercourse in Butoh style, in stunning white and grey costumes by Aislinn King.

The ‘LESS’ program describes ‘a place that conjures images of ancient and future civilisations’. This opening number was like a timeless, high ritual.

Light and sound brought the performance into focus. Water flowed around all our feet connecting us together as the columns loomed behind the dancers.

Then in a swift and uplifting transition, the dance became exuberant with the sounds of splashing water and a sense of irreverent fun breaking the ritual’s spell.

Over the 40 minute show, the space was explored through dance, light and sound. Other numbers evoked gaming and pop culture references, the frightening and the playful.

A saxophonist and a vocalist preformed with the dancers, working in stunning collaboration.

Dynamic AV’s lighting was beautifully minimal, creating atmosphere and drama and never distracting from the performers.

The performers showed an incredible array of dance, circus and gymnastics skills and every movement seemed to respond directly to the space.

Australian dance party’s ‘LESS’ is part of Canberra’s well-loved Enlighten Festival. In a semi-industrial area on Dairy Flat Road, it’s a long way both physically and conceptually from the flashy animations and noodle markets in the parliamentary triangle that we think of as Enlighten, and a beautiful way to activate a new space in Canberra.