Australian Dance Reviews

Finding peace in Lilian Steiner’s ‘Noise Quartet Meditation’ at Dance Massive

Briarna Longville, Jonnine Nokes, Atticus Bastow and Lilian Steiner in Steiner's 'Noise Quartet Meditation'. Photo by Gregory Lorenzutti for Dancehouse.
Briarna Longville, Jonnine Nokes, Atticus Bastow and Lilian Steiner in Steiner's 'Noise Quartet Meditation'. Photo by Gregory Lorenzutti for Dancehouse.

Dancehouse, Melbourne. 
March 19, 2017.

Whenever we conceive of order, we are, by extension, also conceiving of chaos. Likewise with classic dualities like light/dark, sound/silence and, of course, life/death. Lilian Steiner’s Dance Massive piece Noise Quartet Meditation tries to find a nominal third space. With gently, circulating moves and a seamless, hypnotic build, it coalesces crescendo and stillness, creating a frame that is at once timeless and delicately ephemeral. 

Briarna Longville and Lilian Steiner in 'Noise Quartet Meditation'. Photo by Gregory Lorenzutti for Dancehouse.

Briarna Longville and Lilian Steiner in ‘Noise Quartet Meditation’. Photo by Gregory Lorenzutti for Dancehouse.

Although this sounds arch and mountaintop, Noise Quartet is a work of elegantly simple construction. Two dancers, two drummers, one room. Beginning in a meditative pose, it soon begins its journey through incrementally evolving circles and articulated swirls and steadily building frequencies of amplified sound. As wave upon wave cancel and augment, the dance intensifies, at times having the ecstatic energy of voodoo-esque ritual.

It is with deliberate slowness, however, that Steiner draws us into the work. Despite the wall of shimmering sound, she and fellow dancer Briarna Longville move with a slow motion grace, a kind of luxuriating gravity which renders the scene more sensual. Then, as drummers Jonnine Nokes and Atticus Bastow build their waves of percussion with calculated intensity, the ritual makes its way to its final, resonating and ultimately quiet conclusion. As though order might somehow be salvaged from the hurly burly.

Lilian Steiner, Briarna Longville, Jonnine Nokes and Atticus Bastow in Steiner's 'Noise Quartet Meditation'. Photo by Gregory Lorenzutti for Dancehouse.

Lilian Steiner, Briarna Longville, Jonnine Nokes and Atticus Bastow in Steiner’s ‘Noise Quartet Meditation’. Photo by Gregory Lorenzutti for Dancehouse.

As the title suggests, this is a meditative work. Indeed, we could regard it as more like a ceremony being observed than a performance for our simple amusement. Its theatricality is muted and production tricks are kept to a strict and necessary minimum. And yet it is moody, contemplative and curiously permissive; by which I mean that the trance of the work invites us to find our own forms of silence inside the sound. Or, you know, to just drift off momentarily. Find a little peace maybe.

By Paul Ransom of Dance Informa.

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