Parramatta Riverside Theatre
By Lynne Lancaster
This excellent work is tantalising and enthralling. Unfortunately at the show I attended we only saw a segmented, abridged version as one of the dancers was injured. However, based on what we saw it is a sensational, fluid, sculptural work that takes as its base the idea of being connected within relationships, of the search for soul mates and intuition. The dancers explore the concept of Yin/Yang, male/female separate yet entwined, linked and reflecting each other.
The professional dance partnership between Griffiths and Bary positively glows. You can almost touch it as a third performer, crackling with intimacy. Both dancers have worked with Chunky Move, Leigh Warren and Dancers and Tasdance, among other companies, as well as with the late lamented Tanja Liedtke. Early on in their performing careers their close physical and mental partnership was observed by various choreographers, and this was the springboard for their creative work. As mentioned in the program notes, they have challenged themselves to develop their ”intricate duet and unison work” by dancing virtually as one, building on ideas such as ”soul mates” and ”sharing different heartbeats in one life”. This is their first work as co- choreographers and performers. Side To One has been in development since 2006 with the backing of skilled mentors behind it, and this shows.
There is a wonderful extended opening duet where the dancers are caught in an extra-large oversized stretchy polo neck jumper. It is sometimes enfolding and comforting, and at other times used as a basis for precarious balance.
The Orbazanek/Chunky Move style of integrating wonderful computer images, technology and music with dance is heavily evident. Adam Synott’s powerful pulsating score hums and sizzles, echoing and melding with the choreography. I enjoyed the way dots and stars of the opening sequence merged into shapes like that of entwined dancers.
Most of the time there is a heavy, weighted feel to the choreography and a possible Graham influence. Sometimes it is more playful in mood, or electric and intense. When the two dancers move in unison there is a creamy, sculptural and intimate feel that is contrasted with smooth yet angular and twisted ‘chewy’ (as Griffith describes it) choreography.
The stage is mostly bare apart from the huge light box shaped like an L that the dancers clamber around, stand on, hang off, and in one section dance inside creating some marvellous, soft focus, blurry dreamlike visuals. Towards the end Griffiths luxuriously floats in strong eerie shadows while Bary manipulates her, and is manipulated by her, in a dreamlike sequence full of repetitive mirroring choreographic phrases.
What a small golden gem of a show. I anxiously await a return season.
Photo: by Chris Herzfeld