Revolutions Per Minute (RPM)

Revolutions Per Minute (RPM)
Australian Youth Dance Festival Gala, presented by Ausdance Victoria and Youth Dance Australia. Meat Market, 5 Blackwood Street, North Melbourne. 10 & 11 July, 2019.

The gala event across two evenings is a culmination of a project that brought together Australian and international youth dance organisations for five days of collaborative workshops. Interacting with leading educators and professionals the participants, aged 15-25, contributed to creating the twelve dance sequences for this impressive show. The project included dancers from all around Australia, and from various international locations: UK, Scotland, Denmark Finland and Singapore.

All the dancers were directly involved in the creation of the show and the predominant themes reflected the growing concerns affecting teenagers and young adults nowadays. The performances addressed issues related to the environment, climate change and social injustices, such as the mistreatment of immigrants and indigenous cultures. Sequences were sometimes punctuated by short clips of the dancers discussing the themes that they wished to explore and examine through dance, movement and poetic narration. Speaking directly to the camera, they were able to articulate their ideas behind each piece. Their comments often illustrated the mixed feelings they harbour about the increasingly troubled future they expect to inherit from past generations. The large backdrop, on which the clips were screened, created a great sense of intimacy with many of the individual dancers and their strong connection to each piece. This also brought great meaning and depth to the talent and artistry displayed by the young dancers.

The choreography was often bold and predominantly involved contemporary dance. Each dance sequence was beautifully contextualised through lighting and costuming that reflected the many concerns with nature, often reproducing or echoing the colours and textures of local landscapes visualised on the large screen. This created great cohesion within and across each piece. The performances were moody and frequently abstract and poetic in nature. Dystopian futures, fantastical explorations of space and place, and interactions with technology are among the evocative settings created by the stage design.

IMMI, performed by Rutherford Dance Company Youth (UK), concentrated attention on the fear campaign against immigrants during the 2016 Brexit referendum. The dancing portrayed the negative physical and psychological effects of racial othering. The performance achieved high impact by combining the dancing with striking red and black costumes, voice overs related to political lies about immigrants during the lead up to the referendum and music such as “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” (Feat. Luz Elena Medoza) by Giorgio Moroder & Raney Shockne. This reflected the highly symbiotic relationship between the form and the content that characterised this piece and many of the other dance sequences in the program.

Windthrow, performed by Origins Dance Company (Australia), was an exploration of momentum via collecting, controlling and building energy. This piece created an almost Orwellian ominous atmosphere through high contrasting lighting and the placement of a 360 degrees camera in the centre of the stage which recorded the performance from within. Skin II, The Presence Project: Moving Minds, Moving Bodies, was a solo performance (Denise Dannii Tan) that highlighted the grace and lightness of movement. Tan also interacted with abstract imagery projected onto the large screen backdrop and the overall effect was exquisite and compelling.

The finale, For Those Who Wait, was performed by YDance (Scottish Youth Dance), National Youth Dance Company of Scotland. This large ensemble piece explored a variety of movement dynamics that ranged from impulsive to highly regulated and from stillness to rapid intensity. This complex and energetic piece provided a vibrant ending to the event which consolidated the vast collective effort and talent involved in this finely-crafted and executed production.

Patricia Di Risio

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