Australian Dance Reviews

FORM Dance Projects’ ‘NARCIFIXION’: Identity in the digital age

Brianna Kell in 'NARCIFIXION'. Photo by Heidrun Löhr.
Brianna Kell in 'NARCIFIXION'. Photo by Heidrun Löhr.

Riverside Theatres, Sydney.
13 May 2021.

Choreographed and performed by two major Independent dance artists, Anton (Legs On The Wall, Australian Dance Theatre, Bangarra Dance Theatre) and Brianna Kell (TasDance, Dance Makers Collective, DirtyFeet), FORM Dance Projects’ NARCIFIXION is a strange, rather challenging work about narcissism, the use of social media, and questions life and identity in this day and age. The programme notes indicate that the work moves through sections that were inspired by the following points: Ego Chant / Technology Glow Mirrored Face Pools Body Advert Fanfare Wardrobe Check Scroll / Tap / Swipe / Repeat Body Pose Device Delusion / Transfixed Gaze Shutter Duo Four Small Screens Don’t take a photo Altered Reflections Adjustment Dance Show People / Competition Exhibitionism.

The set design is ‘black box‘ minimalist, with a bright white circle of light on the far wall and Stephen Hendy’s dramatic colour washes. A warning for strobe lighting and the use of haze was given in the theatre. Perhaps this could have been extended to the online viewing, as some people could be affected by the flickering lights.

Both dancers are barefoot. Brooke Cooper-Scott’s costumes are many layered (including what appears to be full body armour complete with mask and face shield), and eventually both Anton and Kell are stripped down to skin coloured leotards. In another section, they wear t-shirts with a square logo on them. 

Anton and Brianna Kell in 'NARCIFIXION'. Photo by Heidrun Löhr.
Anton and Brianna Kell in ‘NARCIFIXION’. Photo by Heidrun Löhr.

Jai Pyne’s electronic soundtrack beeps, throbs, humms and pulsates with occasional small sections of silence. The sound of tinkling piano is also included. 

The opening is striking with the work beginning in darkness – torches are used that become an undulating candelabra. Sometimes during the work, Anton and Kell are completely separate; at other times, they are entwined and enfolded. Are they meant to be two halves of the one person? The choreography is quite demanding and requires a very flexible back for starters. At certain points, the work concentrates on just a small section of the body, such as a quivering, fluttering hand. There is slithery, grounded floorwork. Some of the choreography is almost robotic. At other times, it is fast with jagged angular elbows, or in another section like a wrestling match. You can see the ballet base in the choreography with the quick glimpses of fluid, angular arms, for example, and the long ‘line’ of the leg at various points. There is the use of a deep plié and tension in the dynamic use of stretch and balance.

Both Anton and Kell have very impressive short solos. Anton has a posing show off solo trying to impress/connect with Kell, including the use of demi-pointe, while Kell has a solo using a clear reflective sheet of plastic. We see them fight over the use of a ‘mirror’, they strut, they preen, they pose like A-list celebrities on the red carpet (a fake artificial persona?). Ordinary everyday movements are taken and developed, repeated and sped up — which becomes very exuberant and ‘Mardi Gras’ in feel in one section. 

The conclusion of the work as the two fade into the wings, discarding their hyped personas, almost has the atmosphere of the fall in the Garden of Eden as they go ‘wait, wait’ and resume being their real selves.

By Lynne Lancaster of Dance Informa.

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