Australian Dance Reviews

SuperModern: Dance of Distraction

Lennox Theatre, Parramatta Riverside Theatres
March 28 2012

By Linda Badger.

SuperModern: Our obsession with small shiny things, life in the fast lane, what’s in, what’s not, the constant hum of options, gadgets, social media, and multi-tasking that fills our world – the latest and greatest.

What a fantastic debut for a full length work for choreographer Anton.  Anton has been working as a dance artist, director, teacher and choreographer in the industry for the past 16 years.  His work SuperModern: Dance of Distraction premiered at the Parramatta Riverside Theatres on March 28.  Working with some of the best independent artists in the industry, this collaboration is the culmination of a development period that has been fuelling his creative practice for the past five years.

Dancers Kristina Chan, Timothy Ohl, Robbie Curtis and Sophia Ndaba, along with composers of the original score (Jai Payne, Nick Wales, Timothy Constable), and a fantastic creative team, brought together a work with so many layers that was refreshingly pure in its presentation.  The work did not rely on sensory overload, or elaborate sets, technology, costumes or props to communicate, it was the brilliance of the creative minds that brought it together.  The choreography was allowed to communicate for itself.  It is interesting that so much choreography today pushes the limits of what the human body can do. You can walk away wowed at amazing technical feats, but a true artist who is walking a carefully crafted, well-worn path in their journey will leave you with so much more, not purely a superficial layer.  Having watched both Kristina Chan and Timothy Ohl over the past few years it is so rewarding to see them sit really well in their ‘skin’ as dance artists, not just great technicians or performers (of which both are).  They have a maturity that the best training cannot produce – it has to be developed over time and with much dedication.  Robbie Curtis and Sophia Ndaba both performed excellently and it will be exciting to see where their journey takes them in the future.

Humorously presented for the most part, the work was very metaphorical, and each audience member would have had a ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ experience with the work.  So many thoughts were presented, and with so many layers to those thoughts.  The work could be interpreted in so many ways, depending on what your relationship is to technology, your hectic or not so hectic schedule and what drives you. SuperModern could be watched multiple times with the observer always getting something fresh.   To me the show seemed to say that we are puppets of our own making. We are slaves to our own created technology. Are we controlling it or is it controlling us? Technology is laughing at us and playing games as we try to be a part of something that becomes increasingly a point of exclusion – the social media trap.  Constantly trying to fit in, go one better, presenting ourselves in all manner of ways, we lose our identity.  It’s such a great distraction from reality, to the point where even our own train of thought seems disjointed at times.

Use of “precise body articulation” as described by Anton, was a huge component. There was such detail to the choreography at times and then in some moments a real simplicity. At times the movement almost created a sense of illusion – where does the machine end and human begin?  Where does the idea of this invisible but tangible thing we call technology begin and human control get lost?  Anton uses the words “corporeal hyperbole” to describe it.  Yes, that is a great way to describe it.  What was so fascinating in his choreography is that the sense of watching an optical illusion at times was very strong, purely through the choreography, not through any technological trickery or effect – quite ironic considering the subject matter.

All production elements of the work were entirely complementary, including the input of lighting designer/production manager/co-costume designer Guy Harding, whose vast experience with dance and theatre is ever expanding and always impressive.

SuperModern could be enjoyed by the seasoned dance audience to those new to the world of dance and theatre.  The beauty of it was that it was so connective and relatable.  I send out a huge congratulations to all who worked on this project, including all the organisations who supported the work from its inception, particularly Ausdance and Critical Path. This work is not one to be missed!

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