Australian Dance Reviews


Stage Art, Choreographed by Stephen Agisilaou/Adam Blakey

Chapel Off Chapel, Melbourne
Oct 12-22

By Paul Ransom

Sex, death, passion, suicide…

There is a reason the grand themes are continually revisited, not only in drama but in dance. They make for potentially great narrative theatre. The ambitious and energetic Matalor, with its live rock soundtrack and character driven pieces plugs into the much loved and oft re-dredged Romeo & Juliet to find its inspiration; and in so doing delivers a passion filled and somewhat camp tale of doomed desire.

Under the choreographic baton of Stephen Agisilaou and Adam Blakey, the large ensemble cast fill the stage with a blend of Latin, contemporary, ballet and drag show dramatics. Backed by a live band pumping out covers in a glossy, faux-80s style the cast move through a mixed bag of high energy, almost operatic vignettes.

The problem for Matalor is that it’s often so busy you can’t focus. Indeed, the net result is a little more like an end-of-year show than a fully mapped out dance concept. Whilst the athleticism and commitment of the young cast is evident and unwavering throughout, the emotion of the piece fails to translate.

Having said that, plaudits must go to Eley May and Alexander Bryan for their lead roles and to Agisilaou and Blakey for managing to insert some truly excellent choreographic details into the piece. On top of that, the sheer audacity of doing it to a live and loud rock soundtrack is something to be applauded.

Matalor is certainly an interesting blend of aesthetics and, in its showiness and ‘big’ drama, quite possibly a real crowd pleaser. More important than any of this, however, is the fact that Matalor loudly champions the incredible vibrancy and talent of a new generation of Australian dance talent. Maybe if they had been even bolder with this piece we’d be raving about them already.


Photo: In rehearsal for Matalor. Photo by Belinda Strodder

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