Australian Dance Reviews

Fractious – Menagerie

Revolt Productions, Kensington, Victoria
November 7, 2013

By Rebecca Martin of Dance Informa.

Menagerie is a collective of the Victorian College of the Arts (Dance) graduating class of 2011.  While most of us struggle to keep in touch with our class mates on Facebook, these dancers have set up a company and continue to create diverse works for local audiences.

The company is also unique in that it works as a collaborative effort with no particular dancer at the helm.  While this may prove challenging in the creation and rehearsal process, what the audience sees is a well-oiled machine with a group of dancers exhibiting similar strengths and styles of movement.  In short, it works.

The current company in residence at Revolt Art Space, Menagerie presented Fractious, which comprised three new works by Rachel Heller-Wagner, Timothy Walsh and a commission by James Welsby.  The company used the warehouse space of Revolt brilliantly, presenting three entirely unique works.

Menagerie dance Melbourne

Menagerie presents ‘Fractious’ at Revolt Art Space. Photos by Joshua Lowe.

The night’s first piece, Folkdance & Dissent eased the audience into the programme by exploring movement and breath in the absence of music.  The piece built in intensity and was just starting to get its groove when it came to an end.  In stark contrast, the second piece Remind Me Again in 24 Hours was a whirlwind of high energy and repetition.  The dancers were clad in assorted kaftans and sequins while they Saturday Night Fever-ed their way around the space.  The effect was dazzling.

For the night’s final piece, Where Does It All Go, the audience was ushered into an adjacent darkened room where a handful of the dancers alternatively bobbed for illuminated silver apples in a tub of water.  As they emerged from the water each time, the water splashed around the stage and soaked their clothes and some of the audience creating a feeling of inclusion with the performance.  We were then ushered back into the other room and watched the dancers gyrate and jump their way into an intense frenzy.  It was both exhilarating and exhausting to watch.

The Menagerie crew should be applauded for their incredible stamina and ability as performers.  While their work may err a little too much on the side of movement theatre rather than dance per se for some tastes, the work is clever and well executed and I look forward to seeing what they come up with next.

Photo (top): Menagerie performs Where Does It All Go. Photo by Joshua Lowe.

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