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Review - Dance: A Double Bill: testing the boundaries

Dance: A Double Bill

Presented by Sarah Aiken, Rebecca Jensen and Metro Arts

Sue Benner Theatre

Metro Arts

Brisbane City

Season: 6-9 December; Tickets $15-$20; Bookings:

Dance: A Double Bill, a show that tested the boundaries of movement and physical capabilities, was presented at Metro Arts to an intrigued audience.

Utilising the space of the Sue Benner Theatre creatively, the performers defied gravity and the boundaries of movement to invent new styles of self-expression.

This production featured the works of two innovative contemporary choreographers - Sarah Aiken and Rebecca Jensen. Both finalists in the Keir Choreographic Awards, their ability to create out-of-the-box presentations was evident and they contorted realities with their explorative works.

Although having studied dance for a number of years, my natural instinct suggested that a dance show would feature music and a hammy box-step or two. This assumption only proved how outdated I am in this field and how quickly the freedoms of movement have grown.

These new expectations of creative work are something Metro Arts drums proudly in their choices of experimental art. Dance: A Double Bill then was no exception to their branding.

Rebecca Jensen started the night with her piece entitled Explorer - an unconventional look into different forms of our digital world and natural environments. Although, at times the symbolism of different elements was hard to follow, her ability to “Gecko” across the walls of the theatre sparked interest. She became a female version of Spider-Man, thanks to her co-performers, Michael McNab and Harrison Ritchie-Jones.

Explorer incorporated a cluttered setting of ladders, leaves, styrofoam, drumsticks and other materials. It was physical and flexible. The two men of the show were clothed from head to toe, dissociating themselves from humanity. They created scenes and aided the transitions between moves. The trust was evident between the three performers.

The off-putting part of the production was the sound level. Although there was a disclaimer about loud noises, the show started with an intense leaf-blower, used to push performers to form metaphysical landscapes. From there, we encountered banging with drum sticks and high-volume sci-fi tracks that seemed to penetrate ear-drums, rather than compliment.

As mentioned, some components were hard to decipher. Unfortunately, I would have preferred a little more insight into the literal meanings of the images created throughout the show. There was a moment where Jensen erotically licked a ball of ice (which resembled the sun) and that component was hard to decipher. Explorer is open to interpretation, but I am concerned that some audience members may have missed the plot entirely if they couldn’t understand the information between each scene.

After this 25-minute expression, patrons were told to leave the theatre and wait outside for the next performance. The attitude was a bit abrupt and could have been managed a little better. When the interval concluded we witnessed the night’s second installment - Sarah Aiken’s self-entitled work Sarah Aiken (Tools for Personal Expansion).

Investigating the extensions of one’s self in a social, digital and physical means, the work questioned personal branding across different cultural repercussions. With a minimalist set that only required a microphone, it was a definite distinction to the previous performance.

Entering the space, Aiken walked purposefully to the microphone to state her name. This was recorded and she began to majestically move around the area as the sound grab replayed. Two additional performers – Emily Robinson and Claire Leske – joined the action by repeating Aiken’s movements.

All performers were dressed very similarly, almost like clones of Aiken. The slight variations of colour with each costume worked really well. Aiken donned a dark pink top and tights, whilst her ‘clones’ wore similar pieces in varying lighter pinks. This choice helped establish the idea behind the performers as different identities. Images even, that one person shares to the world. The representation of the girls mimicking each other was enough to generate the debate regarding the reality of the photos we post on social media. Or even, the different persona’s we express to others.

Sarah Aiken (Tools for Personal Expansion) was thought provoking and intriguing. The performers glided fluidly and communally together through interpretative movement. Despite their unified approach, Leske’s flexibility and effortlessness made her a stand-out, at times. As the overlay of Aiken’s recorded name increased, the performers engaged with the audience to contribute their own understanding of ‘Sarah Aiken’. This invitation ensured everyone remembered the creator’s name, a clever approach to her investigation.

Overall, Dance: A Double Bill was symbolic and expressive. For this type of night out, you really need your thinking cap on – so don’t leave it at home. The perfor

mances test boundaries, daring to change the constructions of dance as we know it. Movements were memorable, but I hope audiences aren’t lost in the theatrics.

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