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ENVISION by Lion Heart Dance Company - Review

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by Aridhi Anderson (subscribe)
Aridhi Anderson is a theatremaker, performer and reviewer based in Melbourne. Check out her work at aridhianderson.com.
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A stunning double bill of dance works by Lion Heart DC
ENVISION is Lion Heart Dance Company's newest show, a double bill with works by Benjamin Curé and Skylar Delphinus, presented at The Space Dance and Arts Centre in September 2018.

Envision by Lion Heart Dance Company. Photo credit: John E. Photography.
Envision by Lion Heart Dance Company. Photo credit: John E. Photography.


The show opens with Curé's work, Dystopic, a 30-minute performance that reflects on tech-obsession and our consumeristic lifestyles. The lights go up, the dancers enter and move through the space gracefully, beautifully, but unconventionally - they all have phones in their hands. Their gaze is locked to their screens, they're completely absorbed. They journey through life as if on auto-pilot, relying on instinct and muscle memory while technology monopolizes their active attention, and meaningful personal interactions take a backseat. The performance is astutely choreographed, with the performers skilfully rotating, revolving and orbiting around their devices like planets around a star, tangling and untangling themselves from their props and from each other, much like we are accustomed to doing in our real lives (although real life isn't that pretty).

Dystopic is a stunning work that flows seamlessly from beginning to end, leaving the audience transfixed. It is designed as a series of vignettes alternating between repeating themes, presenting new angles on the themes each time they re-emerge, with new subtleties. The themes are uncomplicated but universal and relatable, and the performance resonates deeply with the audience who can see themselves in any of the roles being portrayed. The work makes clever use of a multitude of props, bringing the space and ideas to life. The dancers are talented and skilful, and embody the themes and ideas to perfection.

Envision by Lion Heart Dance Company. Photo credit: John E. Photography.
Envision by Lion Heart Dance Company. Photo credit: John E. Photography.


Director Ben Curé says this work was birthed out of his personal frustrations with consumerism. His work poignantly depicts how technology renders every part of the human experience as a thing to be consumed - how we even consume each other through social media, dating apps, and so on. Our hunger to consume then consumes us.

Curé's work is followed by a twenty-minute intermission, which leads on to Skylar Delphinus' more abstract and experimental work, Dear Lover. This work opens with audio recordings: interviews with various people about their experiences in love. The lights then come on, the performers enter the space, and spend the next 25 minutes expressing the emotional complexities of love and relationships in various experimental ways, combining dance/physicality, spoken word and theatre.

Envision by Lion Heart Dance Company. Photo credit: John E. Photography.
Envision by Lion Heart Dance Company. Photo credit: John E. Photography.


This work is heavily text-based (in contrast to Dystopic, which was text-free), and is thematically and stylistically very different to the first work, despite sharing the same cast of dancers (with one additional performer, an actor). Delphinus says she was inspired to create this work because of her own experiences with love and heartbreak, and that while this is a deeply personal work to her, the process of creating it has expanded it and made it a work that is meaningful to the whole team, with valuable input from others including her friends and also her Instagram followers.

The major themes explored in this work include tension, heartbreak, love and loss. One of Delphinus' artistic choices to accentuate these themes is her use of long silences to accompany the movement, instead of having music playing throughout. There is value in this choice, and it helped draw attention to the more subtle expressions on the performers' faces and in their use of their breath.

Envision by Lion Heart Dance Company. Photo credit: John E. Photography.
Envision by Lion Heart Dance Company. Photo credit: John E. Photography.


Having said that, the venue does experience noticeable sound bleed which took away a little from the impact of the silences. The length of the silences also affected the overall pace and relatability of the work. While the resulting awkwardness and mild tension may have been intentional (given the nature of themes being explored), it felt somewhat unresolved and left me wanting to return for another iteration of this work.

Overall though, both works in ENVISION (Dystopic and Dear Lover) display beautiful choreography and skilful performances and provide compelling food for thought. This show does a great job of turning our everyday lives and experiences into top class art.
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Why? Top class dance show with strong, relatable themes
When: 7 & 8 September 2018
Where: The Space Dance and Arts Centre, 318 Chapel St, Prahran
Cost: $33-$40
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