Performance Space, Carriageworks, Sydney.
July 18, 2015.
Choreographed and directed by Sue Healey, On View: Live Portraits presented seven fabulous performers in a most exciting and challenging show. It featured digital multimedia integrated with live performance that blended contemporary dance and Indian dance styles. At times, the dancers interacted with multiple versions of themselves.
On View consisted of video and live portraits of seven diverse Australian dance artists, including Martin del Amo, Shona Erskine, Benjamin Hancock, Raghav Handa, Nalina Wait, Dame Lucette Aldous and Professor Shirley McKechnie AO. The work was shown as a multi-screen HD video installation that was open to the public during day hours, with the live ticketed performances scheduled within the installation area at night.
Overall, this work was a celebration of these marvellous dance artists’ unique skills in shaping identity through a meticulous attention to movement. Healey intimately deconstructed the body, also examining the dimensions of portraiture and how we view each other. It also considered diverse ways of thinking via the body. A substantial portion of the work concerned the art of looking, of observing or being observed (audience and/or performer on stage). Also, it contemplated the hidden, fractured other selves, the multiple personalities within us.
The emphatic, supportive soundscape beeped, hummed, whistled and sung, pulsating and throbbing, accentuating where necessary. It was ably accompanied by the eloquent and atmospheric lighting.
Viewers entered the mysterious dark space of Bay 20 of Carriageworks only to discover the dancers in “tableaux vivants”, both live and on screen. Erskine was stunning, statuesquely posing in fur, seemingly pallid marble. Hancock was eerie and strange in his mask with long, hanging stretchy ears. Del Amo was clinical, almost robotic in his elegant black-and-white outfit and the use of the dual screen. Wait used incense in her presentation of herself floating across the screen while Handa was mysterious, fluid and elegant in white trousers.
For the main part of the performance, Healey devised a flowing sequence of astonishing short mini solos for each of the five, which were interspersed with floating, dreamlike sequences. There were flowing, sculptural sections for all five, including a part where they take and pass on a phrase of movement, then separate and return to their own set phrase of choreography.
Interaction with the environment was also very important; there were some fabulous landscape images included and various animals. Handa had a magnificent horse segment; Hancock, an almost horrifying contortionist, had an amazing encounter with a stick insect; Del Amo, a romantic, had a rather forlorn and eerie segment in a churchyard; Wait had a delightful, fishy time; and Erskine dynamically used the furs. Hancock was also shown in a fascinating sequence on a buoy and a power station.
Overall, the collaboration and teamwork was tremendous. This was a strange and unsettling, but wonderful, piece. It was a superb treat for those of us who are contemporary dance affectionados.
By Lynne Lancaster of Dance Informa.
Photo (top): On View: Live Portraits. Photography by Gregory Lorenzutti.