Australian Dance Reviews

Sara Black’s ‘Double Beat’: The pulse of life

'Double Beat' by Sara Black. Photo by Heidrun Löhr.
'Double Beat' by Sara Black. Photo by Heidrun Löhr.

Riverside Theatres, Parramatta, Sydney. 
5 May 2022.

Double Beat is presented by FORM Dance Projects and Riverside Theatres as part of Dance Bites 2022.

Three weeks after conception, our heart’s rhythm begins, our bodies are far from completely developed, yet a beat has started. The way you recognise the heart is that it has a double beat, and everyone’s is different.

This hypnotic work by Helpmann Award winner Sara Black uses a pulsating, throbbing soundtrack of heartbeats by Alyx Dennison that also includes the sounds of Black’s son in utero as well as wildlife and birds. A powerful trio of women investigate the bodily and sonic responses the pulse and heart have in response to various physical and emotional states.

Black’s choreography for the dynamic trio of dancers (Sophia Ndaba, Isabel Estrella and Samantha Hines) demands an expressive use of the spine. The dancers are barefoot and in casual, loose-fitting outfits. At times, they perform sculptural, angular, somewhat jerky movements, backbends and lunges. All is creamily controlled stillness contrasted with agitated sections of the work. Mostly darkly spotlit by Veronica Bennet, they generally perform separately, yet there is also a sequence where they hug and twist, and at one point, one rides very briefly on another’s back. There are slow turns and some slinky floorwork. This is mixed with flickering, fluttering hands, lunges, restless swooping arms and a quivering body at one point. There is a low turning, jumping solo which becomes fast and furious — the dancer pulling her arms to her chest which leads to a jumping then falling solo. 

They are at times alone and scared; at others, they form a sculptural mass then suddenly separate, trying to stay in contact yet remain protected – but appealing to both the audience and one another to listen and observe. 

By Lynne Lancaster of Dance Informa. 

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