Australian Dance Reviews

Anthony Breslin’s ‘Trybe – An Opera In Paint’

Chapel Off Chapel, Melbourne
14 March, 2013

By Rebecca Martin.

Take Anthony Breslin’s tribal and masculine painting style, add in Stephen Agisilaou’s creative flair and genius for creating dance and theatre, throw in the majestic space of Chapel off Chapel, and finish with a handful of Melbourne’s most dazzling dancers, costume designers, composers and musicians, and you’ve got Trybe – An Opera In Paint.

The Chapel stage was transformed into a blank canvas with a tribal frame behind which musicians played Greg Long’s score live. Each solo dancer or couple was assigned a paint colour, and one by one they floated onto the stage where Breslin himself entrancingly poured and brushed paint on the dancers who then transferred the paint onto the stage with their bodies. Piece by piece and movement by movement, a giant tribal face came into being on the stage and was brought to life by the dancers and Breslin’s masterful brush strokes.

Anthony Breslin’s 'Trybe – An Opera In Paint'Hayley Uberti has long been a stand out dancer in Melbourne and she seductively shone as one half of the blue couple, ably accompanied by Benjamin Cure. Benjamin Hancock was commanding and mesmerising as red and Agisilaou’s choreography highlighted his extraordinary facility and technique, seeing him pose and move in contortion-esque ways.

The piece built with momentum and climaxed in an orgy of paint, writhing bodies and heavy metal music. The power of colour and movement took over the artist and the dancers. And likewise, the audience was swept up in the experience.

Trybe is a performance piece that was the product of many brilliant artists. Elissa Hulla’s costumes were simple but clever – they had to be like a second skin to the dancers’ bodies yet stand up to being smothered in paint every night for two weeks and then rinsed clean. Stephen Agisilaou was billed as the choreographer and co-producer yet he was also integral to the setting of the stage, lighting, projection and ensuring everything and everyone was in its right place each night. Then of course there was the incredible work of the make-up artists, Lynn Hunt and Rebecca Vaughan who transformed the performers into ethereal conduits of the artist’s vision.

Trybe was a complete sensory experience that had to be seen to be believed. The arts in Australia sorely needs more works of this calibre and I congratulate all involved.

Funds from ticket sales to Trybe were donated to the Lasaillian Foundation, which is a small, non-denominational organisation supporting development projects in the Asia Pacific region and more recently, in South Sudan. For more information, visit

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