Australian Dance Reviews

De Novo – Sydney Dance Company

Sydney Theatre
March 1, 2013

By Renata Ogayar.

Sydney Dance Company’s De Novo premiered at Sydney Theatre Walsh Bay last night with three contrasting works: Emergence, Fanatic and Cacti all, which expressed elements ‘of the new’.

Emergence, choreographed by Rafael Bonachela, was a thirty-seven minute piece that collaborated musically with Sarah Blasko and Nick Wales. Dancers appeared in stillness amongst fluorescent lights horizontally placed on the floor, held by vertical wires that created a dimension of depth to the stage through the architectural lighting design of Benjamin Cisterne. Seamlessly flowing in and out of movement sequences, hints of Bonachela’s signature style were exposed through the new found choreographic language.  Dion Lee’s grungy yet sophisticated costumes of half blazers, nude tones and linear patterns gave intensity to the work, fusing focus, class and pop culture.

Fanatic was a superbly entertaining fifteen-minute work choreographed by Larissa McGowan. It was inspired by filmic notions and sci-fi homages underpinned by recurrent streams of pop culture. Plunging into the cinematic realm of the Alien and Predator series, the piece explored the obsessive fandom within the 21st Century. Embracing the movie star in all of us, the work was performed by Natalie Allen, Thomas Bradley and Chris Aubrey who shamelessly, energetically and comically gave their all, not only to varied and fragmented movements but simultaneously lip syncing dialogue of fanatics, running through fictitious jungles and battling sword fights in order to surface as the hero. A fun fuelled piece relative to many.

Cacti was originally choreographed in 2010 by Alexander Ekman for Nederlands Dans Theater 2 in The Hague. An apt piece of art that was incredibly humorous, polarizing the all too common question “what does it mean?” when one contemplates the meaning of modern artwork. The underlying concept of this piece is that art often speaks to the subconscious and the meaning is never so black and white, but should rather be interpreted and experienced how one chooses.

Intellect and humour engulfed the stage. Eloquent dancers entered the stage and orchestral players brought the piece to life. Evolving from eloquence to ‘a new decade of utopia’ the dancers aligned themselves, kneeling behind white boxes waiting in stillness and poise through inhalation.  Tribal beats erupted as the dancers beat the boxes in a synchronised yet quirky manner.  Erratic moves gave spontaneity to the piece leaving the us in suspense.  Before one could attempt to identify the meaning, the stage had transformed, boxes had moved with the random appearance and addition of cacti and the momentary freeze of sculptured bodies. Dancer’s rhetoric was demonstrated between two performers practicing a movement sequence. A parity all too familiar to those of the dancing world. The ending was drawn out in a comedic manner that created suspense and laughter throughout the audience as the dancers draw nearer and nearer to the end.

De Novo is highly recommended for an evening bursting with new creativity, bringing freshness to the scene.

Photo (top): Sydney Dance Company’s De Novo. Dancers Jessica Thompson & Chen Wen. Photo by Ellis Parrinder.

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