Right: Supreme physicality: Thomas Gundry Greenfield, Elise May Michelle Barnett. Photo by Chris Herzfeld
After the show - below right: Jack Ziesing, Benjamin Chapman, Cloudia Elder.
Pic 3: Michelle Barnett, Elise May. Daryl Brandwood. Rebecca Hall and Tjhomas Gundry Greenfield
Photos by Deanne Scott.
More Opening Night pictures follow the review.
Seven Deadly Sins -World Premiere
Concept and choreography by Natalie Weir
Expressions Dance Company QPAC presentation
Queensland Performing Arts Centre
Season: August 21-29. Bookings www.qpac.com.au or 136 246
Natalie Weir has the knack of creating modern dance that feels like classical dance. She creates moves that help her dancers breathe life into characters and tell a story. I have long been a fan of her style of dance and on opening night my attitude didn’t change.
Seven Deadly Sins is an hour of extreme and intense dance created by artists who put their bodies on the line in lithe and sinuous movements that need ability and amazing strength to perform. Rarely will you see such physically strong dancers on a stage. Even the girls had six packs!
And yet amid all this gymnastic strength were grace, beauty, and brilliant characterisation, as those sins were brought to life and eventually unleashed on the mortal world. It was gripping stuff and even without a look at the programme each sin was so well defined that there was no doubt as to which was which.
Like all Expressions’ work, this was a team effort; choreographer Natalie Weir, designer Bill Haycock, lighting designer David Walters, Darrin Verhagen’s hypnotic electronic sound track, and the dancers, all blended their skills to make this such a memorable production. It was a visual and aural delight.
I loved the concept that the sins were packed away neatly in boxes before the slothful TV-watching human released them with their ancient skins of fine gold costumes, one by one into the unsuspecting world. At first they were single entities but slowly the lines blurred as the costumes were shed and they merged into a sometimes tangled mass of limbs and thoughts and each sin became a sinner.
It was sensual and erotic, violent and gentle, soft and hard as each sin became a live creation and finally joined into a joyous dance of freedom. The lifts and throws have to seen to be believed and it was wonderful to see the complete trust each dancer had for the other.
Once the sins were released they were ever present on stage, sometimes creating their own side story to the main event that drew the eye away momentarily from the main action. Were they ancient secrets in a fantasy release from Pandora’s Box or were they integral parts of The Man’s character?
The Man was central to the scheme and was danced amazingly by Thomas Gundry Greenfield. He emerged from the TV watcher, curious as to what was in the first box, in which, curled like a languorous cat, was the very acrobatic Sloth danced by Cloudia Elder. Greenfield is a big man with tremendous agility and strength which he showed when he lifted the box containing Sloth from the stage within a stage.
From then more boxes in varying shapes and sizes emerged from their hiding places. Daryl Brandwood’s Greed fought with The Man for gold and jewels; Jack Zeising, after cajoling The Man to join him, troughed like a politician as Gluttony and the tall slim Elise May with her bright red hair and sensual moves seduced the entire company as Lust in the most erotic dance of the night.
Envy was another powerful creation danced by Rebecca Hall while Benjamin Chapman’s interpretation of Pride, with his beard and shoulder length hair, was messianic. Finally was Wrath, danced by Michelle Barnett, which, backed by the throbbing soundtrack was incredibly powerful in its Wagner-like operatic violence.
It was a stunning finale. The Playhouse was full and the audience erupted in cheers of admiration, which the beaming, if exhausted cast, absorbed happily.
Left: Natalie Weir with rehearsal Director Amy Hollingsworth
Below: Amy Hollingsworth catches up with old colleague Queensland Ballet’s Paul Boyd
Below: Eric Scott with Queensland Ballet Principal Dancer Clare Morehen, just back from the company’s UK performances.