Australian Dance Reviews

Infinity in Phillip Adams BalletLab’s ‘EVER’ at Melbourne Festival

Phillip Adams BalletLab's 'EVER'. Photo by James Wright.
Phillip Adams BalletLab's 'EVER'. Photo by James Wright.

Temperance Hall, Melbourne.
7 October 2017. 

Phillip Adams’ company, BalletLab, is known for experimental work. EVER is no exception. EVER is a work in three movements, exploring intersections of visual art and dance, and is presented at Temperance Hall in South Melbourne. The audience enters the performance space to sit in the round, separated from the performance area by a white picket fence. Dancers enter and exit through a gate in the fence, suggestive of Baptist culture and a gated community of heaven.

In the first movement, dancers perform intricate choreography in the round. This is reminiscent of Twyla Tharp’s In the Upper Room. It’s difficult and complex and, at times, virtuosic and breathtakingly beautiful. Dancer Lillian Steiner offers us a short respite from the ferocity of this scene, with a meditative solo to finish the first movement.

Phillip Adams BalletLab's 'EVER'. Photo by Gregory Lorenzutti.

Phillip Adams BalletLab’s ‘EVER’. Photo by Gregory Lorenzutti.

The second movement is a film, in which an anonymous Maker mixes and spills huge quantities of paint in a lurid, saturation of colour and texture. The Maker seems to be playing with the colours without purpose but for the pleasure of the texture and the colour, and the results of their mixing.

The third movement is a slowly developing image or stage picture. An inflatable platform or cat walk expands the length of the space. Dancers in coloured vinyl bags roll the length of the inflatable. A catapult sends coloured vinyl cushions in opposition to the rolling bodies. The image is utterly ludicrous and, in being so, it is reaching for the sublime.

Adams is attempting to make a dance about infinity, about cycles of energy that result in creation, and the sanctity of being present for a time in an unfolding of everlasting energy. The work makes an offer to viewers to meditate on these themes and experience sentient responses to the materials and images. 

By Tamara Searle of Dance Informa.

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