Lennox Theatre, Riverside Parramatta
February 27, 2014
By Lynne Lancaster of Dance Informa.
First up as part of this year’s Form dance season at Parramatta is Sue Peacock’s work Reflect.
When the audience enters we notice that the first few rows of seats have been removed. There is a large white projection screen at the back of the stage and a white stage floor has been created (as for a photographic studio shoot) with piles of clothes neatly placed in position – the dancers strip and change into these during the show. A white road travelling nowhere, creating a luminous infinite space mining the interior landscape of our human existence – or is it?
There is a fracturing of time as the dancers jump backwards and forwards around the remembered event. According to the programme notes, Reflect is based on the idea of five people’s different conflicting views of a situation. The story is not ‘told’ rather the significant moments are shown, like a series of snapshots, one memory being over dubbed by another.
The idea behind the work is great, but it just misses the mark. At certain points I had the feeling of ‘The Group’ vs ‘The Outsider’. There is no real emotional engagement by the dancers with the audience. From the very beginning they appear to be drifting on a different plane, inhabiting a parallel universe. All blurs into a trance-like state. Peacock’s choreography is very demanding and requires an extremely flexible back. There are tiny flashes of humour but mostly it is performed relatively blank faced.
Fascinating use is made of shadows and interaction to them at various points in the show. The images on screen include dreamy visions of the five cast members and close ups of details of various materials. The dancers at certain places in the work interact with their screen images. What is real? What is illusion? What is not correctly remembered? Ben Taafe has created a crashing, throbbing, pulsating and hypnotic soundtrack.
There are fun, wild, exuberant sculptural sections included in Peacock’s choreography which also uses repeated phrases of angular movement referring to previous sections of the work. There is a most exciting and fun challenging ‘dance off’ between Hughes and Robinson. Robinson also has a great time mocking the stylized, over the top modelling world with its backstage antics and the catwalk procession in a wickedly delightful short solo. And Hughes (who has danced with Sydney Dance Company) is sensational. Snazzy, snappy Fosse like moves, small everyday movements and unison backing group like moves are incorporated too. Tricky partnering is required and there are some unusual lifts. Some of the choreography is very athletic and demanding.
‘We remember how we felt’, in this case uncertain. ‘Perception defines reality’, or does it? While the individual performances were excellent I am afraid that this work didn’t do a thing for me, and I was left a little disappointed.
Photo (top): Sue Peacock’s Reflect. Photo by Christophe Canato.