Australian Dance Theatre and the Adelaide College of the Arts (SA). Her Majesty’s Theatre, Adelaide. 10 to 13 August, 2011.

Once again Garry Stewart has found an artistic link for dance which his audience can relate to. In this latest production Worldhood, the work of visual artist Tom Buchanan provides the textural basis for the choreography, which starts simply emulating the action of creating the art and finishes by embodying the ideas and symbolising the beliefs inherent in it.

This production is a first for both ADT and AC Arts, who are collaborating together to pack the stage with up to 17 dancers at one time.

Inevitably one looks for meaning in a contemporary dance piece. Rightly or wrongly we try and make sense out of what we are seeing, we seek to understand. Rather than give you my interpretation of the piece I will just tell you what I saw. The meaning is personal, and I suggest you see this show to decide for yourself.

It begins with Buchanan drawing alone on stage. The artist takes to a massive white canvas as wide as the stage and as tall as he can reach. The sound of charcoal creates the sound-scape on which the choreography is initially based.

The first dancer begins to mimic Buchanan. The large vibrant and energetic strokes he makes with his charcoal are matched in syncopation. When two other dancers take to the stage the choreography begins to take on a new form. What Buchanan draws is an urban landscape of towering buildings and sharp angular structures. The choreography too is angular, the dancers using their bodies, arms and legs to create vertical and horizontal planes which they get to in a jarring and mechanical movement.

Later in the piece a recorded sound-scape of industrialisation begins which punctuates the choreography. Lighting is active in the space and also dances around the stage, boxes featuring heavily in the form of the lighting designed by Mark Pennington.

The second half is more organic. Buchanan begins to draw a lush garden of giant leaves and flowers. Other parts of nature are soon included like a shark. The choreography changes to a more organic feel, the dancers shedding their skins (clothes) to dance only in their underwear.

The choreography in the second piece is much smoother and flexible than in the first.  Dancers pair up and entangle their limbs like weeds climbing the trunk of a tree to the canopy above.  Costuming is always themed by colours, matching oranges, lime greens, purples, black and white.

The show ends with a type of destruction when the dancers begin to interact with Buchanan’s art. Taking to it with charcoal they destroy the beauty of the image by drawing erratically over it.

AC Arts dancers have a lot to be proud of, and although the stage time was not necessarily equal, all of the dancers have outdone themselves. Special mentions to Rebecca Fletcher, Tony Currie and Jake Walasek, who were particularly adept in matching the skill of ADT’s most talented artists.

Once again ADT dancer Kimball Wong was a tour-de-force, absolutely unstoppable in his skill and execution. All of the ADT dancers are exceptional, and Clancy Sullivan is a welcome addition with a lot of great things ahead. Her gorgeous long legs and wonderful lines and flexibility adding a new dimension to the diverse ADT range.

I was fully engrossed in this production from start to end, but did notice a few audience members who were looking taxed by the end of what was quite a long production. Entirely worth your attention, make sure you see Worldhood before it closes.

Paul Rodda

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