Big Dance in Small Chunks

Big Dance in Small Chunks
FORM Dance Projects and Riverside. Riverside Theatres, Parramatta (NSW). October 23-26, 2013.

From the moment you enter the Lennox Theatre at Riverside, we see three dancers in warm-up gear stretching. They are in their second home – the stage. A sense of familiarity is present. We’ve seen this scene before. But what’s to come is something new, something fresh and exciting in the dance world. 

Big Dance in Small Chunks is the first offering from FORM Dance Projects’ new dance ensemble The Dance Makers Collective, a group of independent dancers who bring their unique skills and experiences to form an ensemble of creation and performance.

The Dance Makers Collective is an initiative that has been set up to accommodate young and emerging dance artists working in Sydney. It provides a network of dancers and collaborators as a base of support and exchange, where positive working relationships can be established to help build sustainable careers in dance.

It’s all too often a dance piece explores the possibilities of the performer’s bodies, but forgets about the rest of the theatrical experience. Not here. The use of music is varied, surprising and appropriate. From Cyndi Lauper to Bob Dylan, from soundscape to a live instrumental trio, the dancers and choreographers have used sound to enhance and to inform their choices. Lighting and projection are controlled both from a distance and by the performers on stage, and the interaction between dancer and light is almost symbiotic at times.

Stand-out performers include Miranda Wheen, whose self-choreographed Yes I Can is a wicked and powerful take on the ‘faceless men’ of backroom politics. Wheen is ever present, ever fluid and in complete control of her body. Sophia Ndaba deserves a mention both for her extraordinarily comedic performance in 23, 24, 30 and also for her leading of the collaborative group piece ‘Zeitgeist’, which provided an insight into the now, and was a tremendously strong piece with which to end the night. Other standouts included dancers Anya Mckee and Katina Olsen for the energy and focus they delivered consistently. With a group like this however, with an ensemble working so seamlessly, fault could not be found in any of the performers.

Matt Cornell was inspired by his mum’s “…the only time you would see people is at the Friday night dance in town” to create a breathtaking pas de deux in which Cornell and fellow performer Miranda Wheen unfolded a relationship through constant touch and closeness. Marnie Palomares’ 23, 24, 30 and Triple Threat presented situations familiar to any performer. Comedy is not always easily achieved through dance, but the audience was in stitches for these two bookended pieces, as the direction and performances were delivered with honesty. Jenni Large’s The Ultimate Human Seduction was refreshingly original. This reviewer had no idea what it was about, but it was bizarre and brilliant and she absolutely loved it.

It is refreshing to see a group of young and emerging dancers and choreographers of all shapes and all backgrounds making work that is political, social, and relevant. From comedy to commentary, natural to symbolic, literal to absurd, Big Dance in Small Chunks is an appropriately titled collection of big ideas and big talent that come together to create a fantastic night out. Go see this show, and look out for these names in the very near future.

Jessica Lovelace

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