Australian Dance Reviews

‘Radical Transparency’: Staying afloat in dance and movement

Emma Saunders' 'Radical Transparency', presented by FORM Dance Projects and the WE ARE HERE Company.
Emma Saunders' 'Radical Transparency', presented by FORM Dance Projects and the WE ARE HERE Company.

Riverside Theatres Parramatta, Sydney.
18 March 2022.

The Lennox Theatre at Riverside Theatres was packed, with the masked audience taking their seats while a performer in a brightly bold and colourful outfit sang, while playing a guitar.

Radical Transparency is the latest work presented by FORM Dance Projects and the WE ARE HERE Company as part of March Dance and Dance Bites 2022.

The WE ARE HERE company is an innovative contemporary dance company directed by Emma Saunders. It’s a base for independent dance artists, often from Western Sydney, who, mentored by Saunders, investigate and deepen their choreographic practice.

Radical Transparency attempts to examine the blending between honesty and artifice, wild and tame, light and dark, process and performance, raw and manufactured, and whether it is possible now to present new dance work that is sustainable, wild, buoyant and afloat while it feels like everything is sinking. It asks why we dance and move and encourages us to feel our body and interact with nature as well as the use of modern technology. (The production utilizes split screen projections at one point.) Other issues the work considers are loneliness and the reality or otherwise of time and place.

The work includes voice-over, speech and singing. Filmed footage is included, and throughout the work on the back screen text is revealed, with performers speaking the text (and sometimes improvising on it). In the shadows at one side of the stage is a huge mountain of various materials that various performers use, and at one point, there is a great visual effect where the company form a snaking pile, pushed up against the material.

The choreography is quite demanding and blends many styles. At times, the cast interact, and there are rolling floorwork and backbends, for example. Also included are twisted hip movements, showbiz-style choreography, demi-pointe rises, running, circular and/or angular arms, crawling and flicks of the feet. Add to this toward the end some counting of the beat and fast clapping, high kicks and the splits, among other things. 

A projection is screened of someone getting out of bed, slinky moves down stairs, watching TV, falling over the back of the sofa then ‘swimming’, the use of a reflection in a mirror, a woman at home, a male seemingly going crazy with spinning hands and feet. Much is made of synchronised ensemble work, but this is contrasted with mini solos and duets; at one point, one of the performers attempts to escape but can’t.

Radical Transparency is a challenging, questioning work.

By Lynne Lancaster of Dance Informa. 

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