Australian Dance Reviews

Alleyne Dance’s ‘A Night’s Game’: Turmoil of human emotion

Alleyne Dance. Photo by Lidia Crisafulli.
Alleyne Dance. Photo by Lidia Crisafulli.

Riverside Theatres Parramatta, Sydney.
5 September 2019.

A very strong and powerful work, FORM Dance Projects and Riverside Theatres presented A Night’s Game by Alleyne Dance, twin sisters Kristina and Sade Alleyne. 

Co-artistic directors of Alleyne Dance, Kristina and Sade are former athletes-turned-professional-dancers, and have performed and taught across the UK and internationally.

A Night’s Game is dark and intense, exploring the turmoil and strife of human emotion when faced with the prospect of incarceration, facing the possibility of the loss of freedom which consumes every waking moment.

The only prop is a chair. 

Alleyne Dance. Photo by Lidia Crisafulli.
Alleyne Dance. Photo by Lidia Crisafulli.

It is incredibly energetic, extremely physical and demanding. Much use is made of theatrical haze and gloomy lighting, but there are also sequences with glowing clear light. For one section, spotlights create ‘cells’ breaking the darkness of the rest of the stage. The body is used as a percussive instrument (slaps on various body parts, thumping, stamping), and also the use of breath as a vital part of being, hinting at the alarming damaging effects of incarceration with the build up of a relentless drumming rhythm. 

The opening extended solo starts minimally at first, sitting on the chair, but then the body expands in space, arcing, resisting (being tortured?). Assorted movements are repeated. Eventually, the other sister appears, and it becomes a duet as if they are mirroring halves of one personality, or one free, one not perhaps, or a power struggle. There are some most unusual difficult lifts and partnering, leaps, shimmering shimmies, unexpected jumps from the chair, twitches, and lots of fluid, slithery floorwork. There is also use of fall-and-release and rolling windmill arms. You can also pick various other stylistic influences – Kathak ( particularly in the use of hands and arms), hip hop, Latin, Afro-Carribbean and a touch of circus, too . 

It ends on a possibly hopeful note, a struggle against confinement and repression.   

The special opening night curtain raiser, Mobilise, also choreographed by Alleyne Dance and performed by nine dancers of the Dance Makers Collective, was at times a writhing and sculptural mass and included backward walks, circular swirls of movement, exciting and unusual partnering, sinuous rippling arms, and slinky, sliding enchainment similar in style to that of Rafael Bonachela.   

A Night’s Game is a striking, dynamic performance. 

By Lynne Lancaster of Dance Informa.

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