Choreographer Deanna Castellana
Merge Dance Theatre
Judith Wright Centre
Season is ended. Running time: 120 minutes including two intervals.
The Merge Dancer Theatre says it “aims to extend and engage young artists to be independent, creative, and confident in their contemporary dance abilities with the goal of developing their performance skills to that of a professional standard.”
After watching the end of year production, Uninvited Guest, a piece with three acts of 30 minutes duration, I can honestly say that the goals were reached. It was an amazing production with 25 girls aged between 15 and 19 who danced with staggering maturity and skill.
It was difficult to accept the fact that Artistic Director and choreographer Deanna Castellana rehearsed the dancers for just three hours each Saturday from February to create such a professional, disciplined series of dance routines with pretty deep subject themes that needed acting as well as dance.
The dances were often complex and needed perfect timing, especially in close grouping where bodies were flung around and in the building of intricate tableaux. It seemed a miracle of precision work that kept someone from being whacked on the head but no one was. There was a lot of close order marching, as the dancers wove patterns on the stage. There were some gymnastics too, but all in all it was contemporary dance with classical lines.
As I mentioned each act had its own theme. The opening act, The Downside of being Up, was described as “From the euphoric highs to the devastating lows…and everything in between”. And it was soon clear the dancers were portraying the life of a bipolar sufferer.
It was at first fast and furious with much precision dancing, and, with a sound track of evocative music, hit the nerve of the illness. The choreography was superb and as the moods ebbed and flowed, the dancers were on the ball. No one faltered or missed a mark and the movement was relentless. The mood swings were cleverly choreographed and expertly interpreted.
After that the girls needed a fifteen minute break!
The second piece was called Forget Me Not – “Memories last forever…or do they?”
It opened with a group of about 20 junior Merge dancers, all prettily clad in the same styled frocks and a red scarf was the centre of the action. Again the standard of dance was extremely high. As the music changes the youngsters disappeared and the older dancers took to the stage with Kirsty Campbell wearing the red scarf.
It was moving and sad as her daily routine was repeated, but altered slightly to show her mental state deterioration as her memory goes. The skill of the troupe was shown particularly in a scene where Kirsty dressed for work with a live mirror image in front of her. Both girls’ timing was perfect every time. Again there were subtle changes in her routine show mental deterioration.
Kirsty was terrific as she acted out her role.
Finally we had a study of OCD with Bianca Coxeter in the lead role.
Ordered Chaos - “Perfect, precise, pristine. Repeat” - was exactly that as Bianca showered and scrubbed with venom and slowly her behavior affected the rest of the dance troupe.
Once again the dance and music echoed the theme and the dancers created magic.
I cannot emphasise enough the high standard of dance from the Merge Company.
All the work was compressed into three shows. They certainly deserved a longer run.
You can find Merge at 26 Glentanna St, Kedron, QLD 4031 Phone: 0412 579 080.