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  • By Eric Scott

Review - The Dinner Party: magical night of outstanding dance theatre


Photos by David Kelly. After party photos by Deanne Scott.

Above: Josephine Weise and Bernhard Knauer

Above: Jake McLarnon and Lizzie Vilmanis. BNelow: Jag Popham

The Dinner Party

Choreographer Natalie Weir

Musical Director Tania Frazer

Music by The Southern Cross Soloists

Expressions Dance Company

Cremorne Theatre

Queensland Performing Arts Centre

South Bank

Brisbane

Season: May 10-18. Duration: One hour without interval. Bookings: qpac.com.au or phone 136 246

Natalie Weir may have left Expressions, but her legacy lingers on. This was a magical night of outstanding dance theatre that left me wanting more. It was a powerful and intriguing night in the theatre. It was beautifully danced and perfectly acted.

The Dinner Party is a revamped version of Natalie Weir’s 2016 production, The Host, recreated to fit EDC’s current crop of dance talent. It has retained all its power of sinister suspense, rivalry, fear and quirky moments of fun. And the choreography was that magical Natalie Weir mix of classical moves and bare-footed acrobatic contemporary dance. With a frenetic and eerie soundscape created and played by The Southern Cross Soloists.

The costumes too, created by fashion designer Gail Sorronda were almost art deco. They added much to the undercurrents of tension that kept the audience entranced as the dancers played out the plot, with choreography that demanded split-second timing, agility and a huge amount of athleticism.

The show opened with a darkly dressed rich and powerful man standing in power stance in the centre of a table. His four guests - his male rival, a wannabe sycophant, an insecure party girl, and the lover girl, sat, soft-boned and pliable around the table

The Host manipulate them as the Hostess, danced elegantly and often haughtily by Lizzie Vilmanis, slips in and out of the action.

On show is all the Host’s confidence and power as he manipulates and bullies his guests who in turn warily size up the man and tests their own fears and hopes. The characters fought, flirted, were teased and humiliated in dance moves that tested the strength of all the dancers, particularly Jake McLarnon as the Host. He showed incredible strength and control as he lifted, caught, rolled and leapt on and around the table, particularly in the mental battles with his white clad Rival, danced impeccably and again with great strength by Bernhard Knauer.

Each character had a solo spot where their inner selves were explored and explained. The Wannabe, danced by Jag Popham sat at the table, and we watched him talk himself into power and then talk himself out of it. His indecision was palpable and his dance moves as difficult as the rest. It was a nicely acted solo.

Josephine Weise was the Party Girl, skimpily dressed, Cabaret style, in complete contrast to the others and she made sure we knew of the insecurities. It was an absorbing and clever piece of solo dance.

Then we had duos, trios, full company scenes; lovers quarrels, attempts at seduction, a two-girl fight for the Host with the Hostess and the power dancing of Isabella Hood as The over. It was engrossing stuff. So was the scene where the Party Girl was flirting and teasing the Rival. It was a dangerous game.

But nothing was more powerful than the fight for supremacy between the arrogant Host and the ambitious and tough Rival. It was a simply amazing to watch the two men in a confronting and highly physical battle.

It was an hour well spent for a highly appreciative audience.

When the Brisbane season ends The Dinner Party will depart on a 12-town regional tour. If it heads your way go and see it, Tour details at www.expressionsdancecompany.org.au

New EDC Artistic Director Amy Hollingsworth makes her first opening night speech.

The cast from left: Jag Popham, Lizzie Vilmanis,I sabella Hood,Bernhard Knauer, Amy Hollingsworth, Jake McLarnon and Josephine Weise.

Amy Hollingsworth and Eric Scott.

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