It was a full house, as dance, movement and arts enthusiasts eagerly gathered for the launch, where Mayor of Melbourne, Sally Capp kicked off with the famous Dirty Dancing's quote 'nobody puts baby in the corner,' and referred to Melbourne as the 'dance capital of Australia' - revealing that our humble (yet awesome) city has just as many theatre seats as New York and London!
While it was important to hear from Sally and the FRAME festival organisers who have worked tirelessly to make this event happen, it was the first two performances we wanted to see...
This performance explores the relationship between a young dancer (Australian choreographer and performer of Indian heritage - Raghav Handa) and his older tabla musician friend (Maharshi Raval - a maestro tabla player from Benaras Gharan).
Playing Indian percussive instruments and performing a combination of traditional Indian Kathak (Indian classical dance) and contemporary dance, this show is a playful journey of rhythm, music, movement, storytelling, friendship and the coming together of two worlds - modern and traditional.
This performance was clever, funny and sweet - combining heart-thumping and shoulder-shaking drum beats, with Bollywood cheese and hip-shaking, Ricky Martin sassiness...
At some points it felt and looked like the dancer was nothing but a puppet; instead of strings, it was the beat off the drums controlling his limbs and body. It was a little magical and mesmerising to watch.
Despite the strict tradition and restrictions of the Kathak dancing, there was a lovely coming together of the two worlds throughout the whole piece; even culminating in a playful duet.
The Tabla playing and dancing were both exquisite, impressively and expertly transitioning from slow to fast, simple to complex, gentle to aggressive, and silly to serious with a smooth effortless ease!
I really enjoyed this performance and would highly recommend it, but I would have liked to see more of a struggle or tension between the old and new world - something so many of us continue to experience as migrants and refugees living in a strange new land...
Playing from 1 – 4 March 2023: Book Here.
An experimental, dream-like feast for the senses including smoke and lasers, this performance tells the story of Mohini, the avatar of Vishnu:
When demons stole the elixir of life, it is believed that Lord Vishnu transformed into Mohini - an enchantress, who maddens lovers and demons - in order to win it back.
Combining the traditional Indian dance form of mohiniattam - another Indian classical dance form developed in Kerala, with an other-worldly, ethereal score of live and recorded electronic music by sound artist Marco Cher-Gibard, this show was both meditative and trippy.
From the dancer seemingly floating and emerging from clouds in the beginning to becoming a towering shadow surrounded by rainbow strobe lights and art projections; it's the age-old story of triumph over evil told through an alternative contemporary dance, sound and light perspective.
Dancer-choreographer of Fiji-Indian and English heritage, Raina Peterson's work draws on a lifetime of classical Indian dance training to explore topics of identity, colonialism, gender diversity and sexuality. Their performance was flawless and commanding, in a delicate and feminine white toga dress, with writhing red-tipped fingers and spellbinding wide eyes...
I'm not very familiar with the mohiniattam dance routine or techniques (will google it after this) and am uncertain about how much direct contact with the audience it usually involves, but there was a fair bit of pointing and miming in this show - which pulled me out of the graceful and charming nature of the main performance.
I'm always left a bit torn by experimental art pieces; while I appreciate and am moved emotionally by the sense of wild freedom and courage involved, I'm also left feeling unsure about what I've seen. I think perhaps it's more about me though, and my need to put things into neat boxes of understanding...
Playing from 1 – 4 March 2023: Book Here.
Arts House – North Melbourne Town Hall 521 Queensberry Street, North Melbourne
$35 Standard booking fee $28 FRAME Pass booking fee $20 Reduced booking fee $10 BLAKTIX plus booking fee
artshouse.com.au or (03) 9322 3720
FRAME: A biennial of dance, is a new festival from the dance communities in Melbourne and Victoria that comprise arts organisations, companies and independent artists. The festival includes shows, talks, labs, films and workshops.