Australian Dance Reviews

Angela Hamilton’s Twisted Element presents dance theatre event ‘Opus’

Twisted Element in 'Opus'. Photo courtesy of Twisted Element.

PACT Centre for Emerging Artists.
28 September 2017.

Angela Hamilton and dance collaborators presented Opus, an interactive and immersive contemporary dance experience as a part of Sydney Fringe Festival 2017, at the PACT Centre for Emerging Artists. Opus is a commentative work that attempts to break the mould of conventional theatre experience, traditionally “audience” (passive) and “performers” (active). Opus has the dancers interact and include the audience at various points in the work, with the audience constantly changing shape and focus as the work explores the space and those within the space, not afraid to get up close and personal with anyone and everyone within reaching distance. This element to the work really brought a sense of intimacy to everyone sharing the space.

Opus makes some stunning, quirky and, at times, comic statements on our obsession with technology, convention, trend and beauty – how it is merging with us, how we are heading toward losing our essential humanness, enmeshed in the very thing we are obsessed with.

Twisted Element in 'Opus'. Photo courtesy of Twisted Element.

Twisted Element in ‘Opus’. Photo courtesy of Twisted Element.

The work opened with the audience entering the space, taking care not to trip on the dancers scattered along the floor, to take in the divine Charlotte Schinkel-Brown, who opened with a gorgeous solo, twisting her body to its sinewy limits, accentuating angular shape and style in a long, goddess-like gown and lit-up head piece. Being an interactive work, the dancers got up close and personal with the audience, touching, guiding, connecting with and looking them in the eye. For those of us who may be constantly glued to our screens, or not overtly inclined to copious amounts of human interaction, Opus gently guides us out of that space and into one of intimacy with those we are sharing the moment with. 

The choreography itself bordered upon trending, commercial contemporary movement, with moments of more explorative work peeking through. The sectional nature of the work meant the thread tended to break and get lost at times, with halfway through the work losing focus, to pick it back up again. It ended on a beautiful high note with two dancers using long strings of lights from their heads in what would be quite a challenging duet of spinning heads and spinning bodies, using the headpieces in a quite mesmerising, almost trance-like, poetic movement. 

At one point in the work, the use of hundreds of tiny lights in a headpiece that covered the dancers’ heads and faces, representing the extension of technology from the body, was fascinating. It would be quite a challenge for the dancers to work with these props, and it gave an incredible, eerie but beautiful effect, particularly in the PACT space. Being amongst the audience, it enhanced the theme and made it quite tangible, as the light spilled into the space of the observer.

Opus is a fascinating statement on the potential future of man and machine, conformity and slavery to device and convention, missing out on the core of being human – connection with others. Hamilton’s work is one to watch over the next few years, with her innovative exploration of space and costuming quite a unique drawing card for her work. It will be interesting to see how she develops her choreographic crafting. She is well on her way as an emerging choreographer. Watch this space!

By Linda Badger of Dance Informa. 

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