Australian Dance Reviews

WAY OUT Dance – Alaska Projects

Kings Cross Car Park, Sydney
November 17, 2013

By Elizabeth Ashley.

Dances in Unexpected Spaces

What does a car park have to do with contemporary dance?

It is the answer to the cry from a young dancer, ‘How can I find some space to dance and perform in freedom without the usual restrictions and high costs?’ An unexpected collaboration was born when young Australian dancer Rosslyn Wythes was searching for space in which to create and perform a solo. She discovered Alaska Projects, who had been gifted space by the City of Sydney council to be used as a Visual arts’ gallery on B2 of the Kings Cross car park.

Rosslyn’s one-woman dance concept consequently developed into five contemporary dance works presented by Rosslyn along with four other Sydney-based artists.

“It was this expansive space of a car park which really attracted and inspired me to workshop and create some dance pieces with a few of my friends and to then turn it all into a public performance.” Underpinned by live music performed by bassist Djuna Lee, and supported by Cement Hill, with experimental soundscape recordings, WAY OUT dance is indeed experimental and entertaining.

WAY OUT Dance

‘WAY OUT Dance’ with Gemma Dawkins, Jessie Hoeschle, Anya McKee, Tanya Voges and Rosslyn Wythes. © Eamonn Sweeney 2013.

Instead of being considered a dance spectacle, WAY OUT dance might more aptly be described as a spectacle about space. Comprised of five original dance works, the audience is led by the performers from one space to the next; each space different in terms of expansiveness and shape, to the extent of incorporating a stairwell where two dancers propel and push off each other as well as using the surrounding walls and handrails in an intricate and dynamic pas de deux.

The ‘overture’ as it were, was a film projected onto the walls of a space one might describe as a storage room; around 30 spectators brought together in perhaps five square metres. The film was entitled The Door, choreographed and filmed by Anya McKee; a door belonging neither to this room nor the room on the other side…”this fickle pocket of space that refuses to belong to either.”

There is a sense of anticipation amongst the audience with a high degree of uncertainty of how this spectacle will unfold. With the uncertainty also comes a focus and readiness…where will these dancers take us next? Into the stairwell to witness the tightly choreographed pas de deux, and then out into the expansiveness of B2, predominantly empty on this rainy Sunday afternoon.

The five young dancers, seemingly on the verge of their careers, acquit themselves well in their various roles with passion and confidence in themselves and all are visibly enthused to be performing surrounded by this intrigued audience.

Although a parking station provides an abundance of expansive spaces and quirky corners, hand in hand with this benefit comes certain conditions which are anathema to dancers. A car park is cold, with hard cement flooring, giving quite a different response to that of a sprung timber floor with its suppleness and rebound so conducive to dancing.

Undeniably, when a dancer comes across an empty, expansive space, there instinctively follows the desire to let oneself go, to explode and fill the space with your body and your movements; to experience the sensation of freedom, dynamism and creative expression.

Thus we had the pleasure to witness the outcome of this creative delight, discovering dance in unexpected spaces. Not only is the space intriguing and different, it is also available and accessible to the general public. How many other empty urban spaces have the potential to become creative street theatres, allowing developing dancers and artists to entertain us?

Photo (top): WAY OUT Dance with Gemma Dawkins, Jessie Hoeschle, Anya McKee, Tanya Voges and Rosslyn Wythes. © Eamonn Sweeney 2013.

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