A tall black square lit by eerily suspended lightbox, casting a clear, cool light onto the floor. The bare-footed padding of a solo violinist, whose energy and percussive performance of Johann Sebastian Bach carries a muscular corps of dance throughout Rafael Bonachela’s 2 in D Minor – the first movement of Sydney Dance Company’s Interplay.
Dance is mute. Which is not to say it is voiceless. Choreography, music (or lack thereof), lighting and costume allow an audience a to undergo a kind of therapy – a free association, projecting ideas and themes onto the tightly-wound movements on stage. If you try to find a single meaning or crude logic in dance, there’s nothing but frustration and a sensation of being excluded that awaits. I have learned that my experience of dance and exhibition – in other words, the voiceless arts – is best when I float atop of it. Just drifting as I go. When a sign comes – a connection, something that pulls out a folder of ideas in my mind, I simply draw the connections. My interpretation of the work might be inline with the creators’ intention, or it may not. It doesn’t matter so much either way. It’s my experience and my space to think and appreciate that is important in the first instance.
Interplay is visually elegant, violent, sensual and deeply poetic. Bonachela’s first movement 2 in D Minor was as a passion play. It took me to high courts of Spain and Italy during the Renaissance period, when dance involved courtly low-energy movements of the leg with stiff upper bodies, illuminated by birdlike hand movements. The writhing bodies of the dancers were unabashedly sexual, their strong arms and torsos so beautiful, glowing like Caravaggios brilliantly lit and in relief against the velvety darkness. Throughout, like a bass clef keeping time, the soft padding of Veronique Serret, the hairs on her violin’s bow-string broken as a result of her furious carriage of the troupe.
Movement two was Raw Models by choreographer Jacopo Godani. Immediately disquieting with an electric-shock soundtrack, the dancers appeared as if suspended in amniotic fluid, trapped in mesh leotards reminiscent of a fencer’s tunic. The lighting in this movement was exceptional, providing a sense that something was dreadfully unwell or sick. The movements of the troup made me think of group-think, crustaceans crawling in the sediment of tanks, of the bodies from the recently-disappeared plane floating in the rents and silt of the dark ocean floor. This movement didn’t make me feel very flash. Which I’m certain was its purpose. It seemed like a grieving in some sense.
Interplay will be at home at the MTC Sumner Theatre until May 10. If you haven’t been to contemporary dance before, or would like to revisit, this is a wonderfully accessible series of pieces to attempt.
Outside Southbank Theatre.
I dined with a sweet friend at Fatto before the performance. Any venue that offers my favorite aperitivi – Averna – plus sweeping views of the Yarra and city skyline – has my tick of approval. Mushroom risotto was a tasty morsel too.
Hamer Hall in yellow and violet.
Chanelling my inner oligarch in H&M skirt, Cotton On jacket and Collette dress jewellery.
Melbourne winter feels deeply European, and I moreso in it.