Review of If ___ Was___ by Dance North

By Lyn Hurst, Melbourne Observer.


The Substation, Newport was the venue for Dance North’s latest production entitled If….Was…. Artistic Director, Kyle Page set some parameters for guest choreographers Ross McCormack and Stephanie Lake. He asked them to fill in the blanks, to select sound from one sound score, create costumes from one pattern and work to a set duration. He was inspired by reading about Mental Simulation Theory and how people respond using their most recent experiences.


As everyone has different experiences at any one time, it would be an interesting experiment to see what these two experienced choreographers presented using the dancers of Dance North – Harrison Hall, Mason Kelly, Jenni Large, Ashley McLellan and Georgia Rudd.

New Zealand choreographer, Ross McCormack presented If Form Was Shifted.


His 25-minute piece was based on ‘a virtuosic reflection of the thought process structured through group manipulation’.


A strong solo by Mason Kelly began a hectic-paced piece with body positions being arrived at through quick, jerking movements throughout. The lurching and twitching movements of the talented troupe of dancers showed the process of group manipulations.


Performers then, would ‘break free’ to perhaps discover their own dynamics. The strength of the performers was evident throughout but the monotone of movements didn’t lead to a satisfying conclusion for the viewer.


Melbourne based choreographer, Stephanie Lake presented If Never Was Now. Her piece was based on ‘a surreal hive of buzzing activity reflecting the beauty and brutality of the natural world’.


The set seemed to start with a ‘white rug’ set at centre stage. The dancers dressed in two shades of red track pants started on this ‘rug’. As they started to move it was evident that they were sitting on a pool of white beanbag beads, which spread with each movement. The fascination of the piece was not only in the strong movements of the dancers but also in the way Lake used the environment created by the beads. Movement depicted forms such as insects, courtship and rituals.


Stephanie Lake never ceases to amaze in her skill as an interpreter of performance art and all the dancers worked as a cohesive unit.


Costumes designed by Andrew Treloar fitted the brief and allowed the dancers movements to shine. Lighting designed by Bosco Shaw was minimalist and controlled yet highlighted the performance space and dancers with expert precision.


The strong tribal music created by Robin Fox was a highlight.