I have a had a life-long love of the arts; enjoying theatre, ballet, art and movies. We are all time poor and have limits to our entertainment budget so I hope an honest review will help make your choices easier.
Bespoke is a celebration of modern dance and the arts. Pushing the boundaries of dance, Bespoke includes 4 live performances, a short film by Cass Mortimer Eipper and a photography exhibition by David Kelly.
I must say there was some confusion in the audience about what exactly we had or hadn't seen—my excuse is that I was just having such a great time. However my more pragmatic friend, who quietly prefers classical to modern dance, had it all worked out - she actually read the program (what the!). For those of you, who like me, believe programs and instructions are optional reading, this is the abridged version of your 2-hour program:
Parts per Million - live performance
Interval 1 - 20 mins
B-Sides - live performance
Interval 2 - 20 mins
Brute - short film
Carbon Field - live performance
Reserata - Photographic exhibition displayed in the foyer .
Now that is sorted, let me tell you about this absolutely dynamic program.
Parts per Million, according to choreographer Craig Davidson, looks at human behaviour patterns and the idea of change. The performance pushed the audience to consider how we operate on a daily basis and question what we need to change in response to the world around us. This was a dramatic and precise performance. With highly coordinated mass choreography interspersed with solos and duets that were filled with emotion—some tentative and gentle, some aggressive and frenetic and others sensual and soft. The dancing was technically perfect and beautifully expressive. However, a great deal of the magic of the performance was created by the perfect marriage of dance, music and most importantly lighting. The drama and emotion of the dance were accentuated by the dramatic and emotive musical score composed by Nicholas Thayer. While the choreography and the storytelling were brought to life by Cameron Goerg's precise and striking lighting design.
B-sides had me hooked in minutes. This was an electric performance set to popular 60's music. With his tongue firmly planted in his cheek, choreographer Jack Lister explored relationships and identity and the change in their expression over time. The performance bravely exposed relationships of all kinds. Dance explored a modern, more liberal definition of a loving partnership while music presented a more stayed and constricted view. The juxtapositions were both stunning and amusing. One of my favourite sections explored identity, with the use of a simple blue dress and delightfully kitsch choreography, this section of the performance exposed the vulnerability of being who we really are. While the dancing quality was top notch, once again, true magic was achieved in the collaboration. Bold, yet deceptively simple, costume and set design took this performance to the next level. I especially loved the use of the walls for dance moves that highlighted the pure physical strength of these dancers. I would go back again just to see this performance, I was totally engaged and entertained.
Brute, a short dance film exploring duality was gritty, raw and aggressive. While I liked the dance and loved the concept of embedding technology into live performance, for me this was a bit of a miss. I would have loved to see this performance merge rather than just embrace the two. If the filmed production had been projected on a larger screen across the whole stage and live dance had been woven into the filmed dance - then I think this could have been truly special. The other miss here was the promotion of an app to expose behind the scenes content and augmented reality. No one I spoke to clearly understood the concept nor was able to download the app in time. Once again a great idea, that could be improved with further consideration.
The final live performance was Carbon Field. This performance played with colour and shape to explore the duality of existence. The example concept being that 'pure carbon, depending on the way its atoms are arranged in space, forms either graphite or diamonds'. This performance included guest artists from Expressions Dance Company, known for their gritty and visceral performances. Precision was once again the key to this performance, Gabrielle Nankivell's creative approach to choreography left me thinking of performance art. Crafted movement blended with costumes in a neutral yet graded colour pallet created patterning and movement something akin to a Kaleidoscope. This performance was simply clever, a beautiful example of the power of modern dance to explore a concept without words or a linear story.
The final treat for the day was Reserata, a photography exhibition by David Kelly. Kelly in collaboration with six talented dancers has captured the beauty of dance. Power and strength were highlighted beneath soft sensual lighting. While the pure physicality of extremely fit dances was softened by emotional and sensual poses. If you don't go to see the full show, you should at least drop in for a drink and take a peek at these extraordinary photos.