November 1 – 5
Attendance at a show such as “Dance 16” can be initially trepidatious for someone largely unfamiliar with the histories, traditions and contemporary imaginings of dance. However, you needn’t be acquainted with the intricacies of the discipline to marvel at the skill on show from QUT’s Bachelor of Fine Arts (Dance Performance) students at the cusp of their professional careers.
The show features five numbers, curated to showcase various moods and styles of dance, beginning with ‘Before’, curated by Gareth Belling with the dancers. With 17 dancers taking advantage of the ample stage space, the work shows shades of Belling’s work in Collusion’s ‘Muscle Memory’, which wowed audiences at The Judith Wright Centre earlier this year, as dancers move together in lines and break out in small groups, always with show of strength and grace. A simple costume pallet allows the dance to speak at its loudest and Ben Hughes’ lighting design enhances atmosphere, especially in the second number, ‘Pint Size 2017’, which is filled with evocative shadows.
Numbers are of various length with the final from Act One, ‘Danzas Argintinas No. 2 – Danza De La Moza Donosa – An Excerpt from SDC’s Grand’ (choreographed by Graeme Murphy AO), being both the shortest and also the most impressive and engrossing in its stunning visual representation of the fusion of dance and piano and show of the strength, flexibility and control of traditional ballet. Then there is the more narratively driven ‘A Tragic Love Story’ (choreographed by Joseph Simons), which opens Act Two with a rock eisteddford vibe. Still, it is difficult not to give over to its experience when its soundtrack starts with some Blue Brothers, ends with Beyoncé and features some fine swaggersome moves along to its JT sounds.
This familiarity of soundtrack and choreography, is soon juxtaposed by the final number ‘We are Schadenfreude’ (choreographed by Richard Causer), which, in its exploration of the German word describing the emotion of ‘damage-joy’, goes from aggressive to sensual movement and then the strange synchronised slapping of faces into cake, dancers leashed around stage and spinning about on the floor.
Certainly “Dance 16” presents audiences with a diverse program of performances. Its curation not only allows for celebration of the graduating students as they undertake the final stage of their transition into industry, but emphasises their versatility and skills though its wealth of choreographic ideas.
Photos c/o – Fiona Cullen