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.
Queensland's premier festival of contemporary dance returns to Brisbane for its third year. The Supercell Festival of Contemporary Dance, playing at Brisbane's Powerhouse, is a cultural celebration held across nine days. The boundary-pushing and thought-provoking program includes workshops, talks, and performances for professional dancers and dance lovers.
The exciting program included SPLIT by Lucy Guerin Inc; a totally riveting performance that explores the growing intensity of life in a world where space is getting tighter and time appears to be getting shorter.
The performance opened with a dramatically pounding score (composed by Scanner) and soft lighting (designed by Paul Lim) which created an almost black and white art house atmosphere and focused our view on two young women in one corner of the baron stage. At first glance, I noted an extreme contrast in costumes. Once dancer (Melanie Lane) wearing a baggy dress, while the other (Lilian Steiner) seemed to be wearing a skin-tight body suit. Then the lighting lifted and the dancing began; I soon realised that that tight body suit was in fact just skin. Not a fan of gratuitous nudity, I was initially irritated. But irritation soon gave way to absolute awe. Lilian Steiner was simply magnificent, and totally committed to the performance; it was easy to see why she won the prestigious Helpmann Award for Best Dancer.
As for the nudity, well it added incredible depth to the story being told. Initially, I was aware of the total vulnerability of dancing totally naked in a packed, yet intimate theatre. Drawing from me an awareness of how vulnerable life itself can be. But vulnerability was not the core emotion in the room by the end of this performance—instead Steiner's confidence and singular focus created freedom, where the nudity slipped from my vision and all I saw was a beautifully powerful woman.
Adelaide-born Lucy Guerin's choreography was amazing with different techniques used to explore varying human experiences, both in response to each other and the environment. Large perfectly timed sweeping movement gave way at times to intricate, cat-like, hand and footwork. Beautifully sculptural still poses were broken up by playful galloping and dramatic angular movements.
Initially, the two dancers seemed to be a reflection of the same person with intricate and challenging choreography performed in perfect unison, yet without a visual or physical connection. In later sections of the performance, the connection between the dancers is explored. At times they were gentle, caressing and cradling each other. At other times the relationship was more violent with slapping and wrestling and even connotations of one devouring the other.
On an ever-shrinking stage, Lane and Steiner delivered an intensely physical performance. In the beginning, their sweeping arm movements were so powerful that they appeared to blur. Later statuesque poses and physical interactions required lifts that were both sensual and seamless. The performance was tight and powerful and for the entire fifty minutes, these two amazing dancers didn't miss a beat. I found myself sitting on the edge of my seat and when the performance ended I was shocked— the time had flown and I had been totally engaged for each breathtaking moment.