By Paul White and Narelle Benjamin. Part of Dance Massive at Arts House, North Melbourne. Meat Market. March 12 – 16, 2019.

Cella is an amazing dance performance devised by two consummate choreographer/dancers, Paul White and Narelle Benjamin, currently on as part of Dance Massive 2019 at the Arts House, North Melbourne. Cella offers challenging ways to perceive performance dance that is centered on bodily biological structures.

This is collaborative piece where two artists join forces and share interests on body physiology to create a fascinating piece of dance that creates awareness and a deeper understanding of the mechanical structures of the human body. There is a shuffling of two bodies across the floor - repetitive, distinctive and strong.  Bodies merge into one another other, separate again to rejoin, there is a physical intimacy and binary receptiveness between the performers that is visceral and tactile. The pulling and stretching of the skin is startling and confronting, redefines the aesthetic notions of beauty and is definitively sharp and poignant in detail.

Benjamin titled the performance Cella: a Latin term meaning “small room”, inspired by her intense somatic research under a fellowship three years ago, where she gained an understanding of cellular consciousness and the different tissues and structures of the body; resounding with her receptivity and body expression as a dancer. Her work with White on Cella in Wuppertal, Germany, saw them perform as part of their choreographic season in 2016 and at the Sydney Festival in 2018.

Cella is a uniquely orchestrated dance performance combined with poignant diaphonic sound composition (Huey Benjamin) and fluid lighting design (Karen Noris) provides a wonderful seamless performance plateau.

Flora Georgiou

Photographer: Pippa Samaya

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