Dancers share common Thread

Thread: Dancenorth

Venue: Dancenorth Stanley Street, Townsville

Reviewed: May 21

Reviewer: Olivia Stewart

DANCENORTH’s current hometown triple bill celebrates its 30th anniversary heralds a promising new era.

Thread links past, present and future through the debut work of artistic director Kyle Page and artistic assistance Amber Haines and pieces from former company artistic director Jane Pirani and dancer Lisa Wilson, who started her career with Dancenorth 24 years ago.

Three works explore aspects of the human condition and experience, and each represents individualistic choreographic voices and approaches shaped by different generations of contemporary dance.

What shines through is how complementary the six company debutants skills and styles are, despite being a recently formed ensemble.

Page, having 90 Australian and international dancers to chose from maned to get the balance of talent just right.

The interest from dancers aspiring to join the company could be seen as a vote of confidence.

Page, 28, who trained in Brisbane before joining Dancenorth at 17, is supported by artistic advisers Cheryl Stock, Dancenorth’s founding artistic director and former rehearsal director Bradley Chatfield.

Thread features memorable set design elements, further enhanced by Bosco Shaw’s lighting, which forms a striking centrepiece to Page and Haines’ Syncing Feeling.

Wilson’s Torrent opens the show and is metaphysical exploration of the nexus between humanity, kinetic energy and elemental forces, underpinned by Guy Webster’s sound design.

The acclaimed choreographer created the movement in collaboration with the dancers has generated a broad vocabulary as they interact with each other and forest of suspended timber pieces (designed by Luke Ede), juxtaposing edgy, angular, explosive and anarchic sections with gentle arcs of expansive fluidity.

Like Wilson, Pirani’s work is also characterised by a clarity of choreographic ideas.

Her tribute to the haunted survivors of World War I, The Hollow Men, uses simple motifs and staging to capture the poignancy inspired by T.S. Eliot’s eponymous poem, although I would have liked to have seen the depth of feeling writ on Jenni Large’s face throughout matched by the other three dancers’ expressions.

Two thing linger most though: the beautiful and simple symbolism of red roses and poppies, and the exquisitely haunting voice and melody of Pirani’s daughter Isabelle Reynaud’s specially composed song.

Syncing Feeling is the other side of the coin, an esoteric and intellectual exercise.

While theories of mind, metacognition and mirror neurons might sound daunting, and perhaps alienating, this actually addresses how we relate, and it does manage to connect with great effect.

Initially this is through an intriguing, morphing visual landscape, before evolving into a focus on the interpersonal attunement of husband and wife, page and Haines, their movements married to Alisdair Macindoe’s soundscape.

The choreography spans robotic and twitch, slo-mo, mirroring, gestural and even Indian iconology (reflecting its creation in the subcontinent). There are also some nifty lifts,

Syncing Feeling is clever, idiosyncratic, at times humorous and, above all, compelling.