A Melbourne based writer who is a travel junkie, dedicated foodie and emerging photographer.
Masterful dystopian dance double
The Next Move series by contemporary dance company, Chunky Move, started over 10 years ago. Originally a forum for providing dancers associated with Chunky Move to stage their first 'work of scale', the concept was broadened to include artists external to the company. In Next Move 11, two emerging makers in Lauren Langlois and Joel Bray present their works: Nether, and Dharawungara. In each production, the maker has not only developed the dance concept, but they have also directed, led the choreography and perform in their work.
Nether opens with projected light playing over the audience. Hard swathes of light cut through the air, dividing the theatre and the stage. Through clever use of the light, a dancer slowly becomes visible onstage, and then a second appears. The two dancers - Lauren Langlois and James Vu Anh Pham - finally come together, but just as quickly are separated once again by the beaming light.
Dancers Lauren Langlois and James Vu Ahn Pham, with the 'third performer', the light display
As a photographer, I was practically salivating over the forms, and the play of light and shadow being created in front of me. As my partner put it, there were three performers on stage, the two dancers and the light; the light was as critical to the performance as the cleverly crafted and beautifully executed dance routine. Credit here to lighting designer Amelia Lever-Davidson.
Langlois' concept for Nether is of a 'short piece of dystopian fiction set in the year 2046'. Described as 'a response to societal constraints where physicality is presented as the last frontier of what it means to be human', it could equally have represented a world in which we as humans inevitably hit barriers, physical and psychological, and how we respond to them.
Langlois and Vu Ahn Pham in the ethereal Nether
This is a beautiful, ethereal piece, where the precision integration of light and dance, along with the audience interaction through the play of light, creates an engaging, almost tantalising experience.
Joel Bray's work Dharawungara, after the interval, brought a completely different tone to the performance. Joel's heritage is 'Wiradjuri, Scottish and English', and Dharawungara is a tilt at his Wiradjuri background, a self-described 'lament for the rite-of-passage I can never do'. This refers to a tradition in which tribal boys of a certain age were handed over to a powerful being, Dhuramoolan, who instructed them in the laws and customs of the community.
Joel Bray in Dharawungara
Framing the stage as 'a ceremonial ground of light and sound', we see Bray transform himself, into the tribal boy he's never been, with the application of purple paint to achieve his concept of the ritual. Through dance, with the aid of clever lighting effects, and a haunting soundscape created onstage by songwoman Naretha Williams, the story unfolds.
Joel Bray onstage with songwoman Naretha Williams
There is a strong contrast between the two works; where Nether is playful, Dharawungara is plaintive. Where Nether is polished, Dharawungara exudes a rawness borne of thoughts of a life that might have been and a personal need for physical expression of those thoughts.
Two very different works, but both strong and compelling performances, and a pleasure to watch.
Next Move 11 plays at the Chunky Move studio, 111 Sturt Street, Southbank at 7.30pm every night (except Sunday 11th and Monday 12th November) until Saturday 17th November. There is also a matinee at 2pm on Saturday 17th November.
Tickets are $21.75 - $37.24. Click here to buy tickets online.
The performance time is approximately 90 minutes, including a 20-minute interval.
The Chunky Move theatre is wheelchair and access friendly.
The images in this article were supplied. The photographer is Pippa Samaya.