Sydney Opera House, Sydney.
5 June 2021.
Jamestown Collective brings to the Sydney Opera House its collaborative work, INFUSION, No Movement, No Sound. Headed up by Ghanian dancer and musician Lucky Lartey, INFUSION is a jam-packed, fun filled show aimed at all ages, from little people to adults.
INFUSION has evolved over the course of three years, utilising various artists from a variety of cultures. This set includes Lartey, Sally Dashwood and Byron Mark from Australia, along with Michael St George (Jamaica/Canada), Yacou Mbaye (Senegal) and Maharshi Raval (India). We see a wonderful explosion of these very different cultures come together to share the things we all have in common – play, music and movement. Several African origin instruments are used, as well as the Indian Tabla, tap shoes and homemade instruments that represent the toys and objects children used to make play sounds.
The aim of this work is to not only share in culture but also to share in childhood experience, particularly of the various African nations represented, and remind us of the simple things, childhood, simple play and going back to our roots. The show opens with a film of Jamestown (Ghana) locals, talking about the games they used to play, making toys from scrap and entertaining themselves on local streets. The film was projected onto a screen made from t-shirts strung up together, creating the top of the stage back wall, giving the stage a rather vintage, homemade feel, a theme that thread throughout the work.
The performance flowed on with the play theme, bouncing between obvious childhood symbolism in movement, to interchange that jumped from person to person, passed around like a basketball on the lunch time playground. Instruments and vocals joined in the fun, and there was never a dull moment. Spoken word artist St George shared a touching prose about returning to our roots, a call for us to look to the youth and start there with changing for the better. There is certainly something special about this style of rhythmic poetry. Dashwood, who is always a delight in any performance, brought a unique addition with her tap shoes to the rhythmical landscape, alongside Lartey’s gumboots with bells (who doesn’t love a homemade instrument/tap shoe!) tripling up with his epic stepping/cajon playing.
The show ended with teaching the audience clapping rhythm patterns from the performers’ cultural background and childhood, having us join in the creativity. It was perfect for the kids, who were itching to join in and make some noise.
From beginning to end, Jamestown Collective brought us a heart-warming, fun performance, reflecting our childhood back to us, and reminding us to enjoy life, not take ourselves too seriously, remember our cultural roots and truly appreciate where others have come from. It was fantastic to get a taste of ethnicities we do not normally have a lot of exposure to in our everyday lives in Sydney, Australia. An inspiration and invitation to explore and appreciate these vibrant cultures.
By Linda Badger of Dance Informa.