Australian Dance Reviews

Gallery – Project Y

Jason Coleman’s Ministry of Dance, North Melbourne
October 2011

By Deborah Searle

Paul Malek’s Project Y presented the twisted, quirky, and intriguing Gallery at Jason Coleman’s Ministry of Dance in early October. Using the unique glass viewing windows of each dance studio, the youth dance company transformed the classrooms and centre walkway into a museum like space, as the audience was taken on a tour of the live art gallery they created.

The feeling was eerie and the dancers enjoyed making us nervous and uneasy as they muttered, screamed, slammed doors and danced with a grunge like rawness similar to that of Wade Robson’s Emmy winning Ramalama.  Dressed in differing shades of white and almost ghost like, the young dancers were engrossed in their characters and controlled, or out of control, when they needed to be. At times it felt like we were looking inside the windows to a mental asylum, although these young disturbed people could dance with strength and precision just as well as they could twitch and squirm.

I was impressed by the large troupe of young eager dancers, some as young as twelve. They performed with maturity and conviction. Although I thought the theme may have been a little dark for the younger dancers, they seemed to enjoy tapping into their crazy side and gave it their all.

A piece titled ‘The Ladies Who Morn’ was captivating. Three female dancers dressed in white and covered in little lights moved, melted and isolated with blank expressions and an almost creepy calmness. With only small movements they created a big effect.  I was impressed by both the dancers and the clever choreography, proving that sometimes less can be more.

Another stand out piece involved the dancers standing as couples in the photo frame like windows of one of the studios. They turned on little lights on the side of the glass to illuminate themselves and give the illusion of being a moving photo. One wondered what the real stories were behind the dancers in each photograph.

The dancers of Project Y are a new generation of standout artists who will have a big impact on the Australian dance scene as they mature. With regular opportunities to perform and work with some of Melbourne’s best choreographers these young dancers are being given an invaluable opportunity.

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