Saturday, May 18, 2024


"Alpha Beta"  choreographed by Alisdair Macindoe

Choreographed by Gabrielle Nankivell, Alisdair Macindoe, Ruth Osborne OAM

Composed by Luke Smiles, Alisdair Macindoe- Adam Ventoura

Sound by Kimmo Vennonen – Lighting by Antony Hateley

Costume Design by Cate Clelland – Artistic Direction by Ruth Osborne OAM

Canberra Theatre Centre Playhouse, 16th to 18th May 2024

Performance on 16th May reviewed by BILL STEPHENS.

The title of this program is particularly significant in that it signals the last production that retiring Artistic Director; Ruth Osborne OAM will produce for QL2 Dance.  Osborne has been Artistic Director of QL2 Dance for the last 25 years and during that time has established the organisation as a leader in innovative youth dance, earning it an international reputation along the way.

Handing over the leadership of the company to incoming Artistic Director, Alice Lee Holland, represents a huge personal change for Osborne, and as has been her practice for her annual Playhouse seasons to set a theme for each program for her choreographers and dancers to explore, it was no surprise that this year’s theme was ‘change in our lives and how we deal with it.

The Quantum Leap ensemble for 2024 consisted of 25 young Canberra-based artists aged 13 to 23, and following her normal practice, Osborne has engaged experienced professional choreographers and composers work with this year’s ensemble to create three works to the chosen theme.

This year the choreographers were Alisdair Macindoe, Gabrielle Nankivell and Ruth Osborne herself.

"Kaleidoscope" choreographed by Gabrielle Nankivell

Gabrielle Nankivell’s work Kaleidoscope opened the program. Created to a soundscape composed by Luke Smiles, Kaleidoscope consisted of a series of brief sequences separated by quick black-outs for which groups of dancers took the stage to form intricately choreographed tableaus in which they would resist, adapt and respond to each other as a recorded voiceover intoned comments on the impermanence of the universe.   

Although the impetus for the changes was not always obvious, the tight ensemble patterns demanded intense concentration from each dancer and were executed with an admirable sense of awareness by each dancer.

Alasdair Macondo created his own soundscape for his work Alpha Beta. In which he explored ideas of individualism and collectivism.  Commencing intriguingly with a row of lights being lowered, the dancers formed lines to slowly progress across the stage before suddenly stopping to pose.

Later they would form lines and advance on the audience before again stopping suddenly to touch their faces and exchange meaningful looks. Finally they began to move in circles which progressively got faster and faster as a mirror ball created dazzling patterns until one by one the dancers exited the stage.

"Voyage" choreographed by Ruth Osborne OAM

The final work which concluded the program was Voyage created by Ruth Osborne. In a typically generous Osborne gesture she credited seven young choreographers from QL2 Dance, Akira Byrne, Arshiya Abhishree, Calypso Efkarpidis, Jahna Lugnan, Julia Villaflor, Jemma Farrall and Maya Wille-Bellchambers as collaborators in creating the work.

While it’s not possible to identify the contributions of each of the young choreographers, Voyage contains all the hallmarks of Osborne’s signature choreography.

It’s a spectacular ensemble work involving all twenty-five members of the troupe for whom Cate Clelland designed attractive outfits consisting of brown trousers topped with neat white overshirts. 

As with all the works presented by QL2, there are no principal dancers, and because all the dancers are involved in the creative process, they take ownership of their involvement and perform even the most intricate moves with confidence and accuracy.

Voyage was performed to an emotive soundscape by Osborne’s preferred composer, Adam Ventoura, who has provided a succession of brilliant compositions for her creations over the years.

It was performed in front of spectacular film of the dancers performing against multi-layered images of themselves, created by another of Osborne’s frequent Osborne collaborators, Wildbear Digital.

Finally, there was Osborne’s much-admired signature finale, in which she references each work presented in the program, in a cleverly choreographed, joyously danced, celebratory bow.

With the handover of the Artistic Directorship, QL2 itself will be ‘subject to change’. However, by choosing her successor, Osborne has ensured she is leaving the organisation in safe hands. Therefore while dealing with her own response to change, Ruth Osborne OAM can look back with pride on her own significant dance legacy.


                                         Images by Olivia Wikner, O&J Photography 

      This review also published in AUSTRALIAN ARTS REVIEW.