Carol Flavell Neist

The latest iteration of this annual season of original site-specific works from WA independent dance artists took over St George’s Cathedral.

First presented in 2014, In SITU is a now-annual season of original dance works by independent practitioners, including members of STRUT Dance and others. Beginning as a pop-up performance in Joe’s Barber in King Street, In SITU travelled to Fremantle Arts Centre in 2015, then the State Theatre Courtyard in 2016. This year, works were presented at St George’s Cathedral, which has spread its wings in recent years by establishing St George’s Dance and Theatre and opening the beautiful cathedral with its wonderful acoustics to performing groups.


The cathedral precinct has several other areas suited to performance, and In SITU (and this explains the name!) took full advantage of this, leading the audience from chancel to choir to ‘breakaway’ rooms to the church hall.

The opening piece, Passage, was impressive, with Stefan Karlsson in a black-trained skirt and Spanish heeled shoes performing a piece of contemporary dance with a Spanish flavour. His skilful management of the skirt was in itself praiseworthy (I loved the idea that the skirt was chasing him, like a shadow!) and his immersion in Tom O’Halloran’s music was a lesson in concentration.

Next was Kismet, performed by Sarah Chaffey and Russell Thorpe to music by Tao Issaro. A fascinating piece, in which we never saw Chaffey’s face, and Thorpe appeared to be torn between wanting to be seen and wanting to hide. The audience was obliged to follow the dancers around the cathedral and environs. It was well-conceived and performed, but this item was something of a puzzlement, like kismet itself.

Climacteric, performed by Natalie Allen and Richard Cilli, was somewhat abstract, although many references were almost literal. The program notes assured us that it was ‘an episodic experience honouring the role that this place (the cathedral) has played/will play in the lives of many throughout time. It claimed to be ‘looking at the rituals and turning points in our lives as catalysts for emotional states, sensations and reveries’. It made good use of the cathedral’s internal layout, but having Allen walk up the aisle in her own funeral was perhaps a step too far.

The final item, Lost in an Icy Moment, performed by Dominik Mall, gave us, as the program notes put it, ‘a touch of the past, a trace of the present, a flicker of the future’. The fact that it was a solo offering rounded off the evening nicely, ending as it began with a choreographed commentary on, as the Book of Common Prayer puts it ‘this transitory life’ with its ‘trouble, sorrow, need, sickness, or any other adversity’.

Overall, an interesting and well-presented evening’s work, showing much that was inventive, original and enlightening.

4 ½ stars out of 5

In Situ
St George’s Cathedral, Perth
15-16 June

What the stars mean?
  • Five stars: Exceptional, unforgettable, a must see
  • Four and a half stars: Excellent, definitely worth seeing
  • Four stars: Accomplished and engrossing but not the best of its kind
  • Three and a half stars: Good, clever, well made, but not brilliant
  • Three stars: Solid, enjoyable, but unremarkable or flawed
  • Two and half stars: Neither good nor bad, just adequate
  • Two stars: Not without its moments, but ultimately unsuccessful
  • One star: Awful, to be avoided
  • Zero stars: Genuinely dreadful, bad on every level

About the author

Carol Flavell Neist has written reviews and feature articles for The Australian, The West Australian, Dance Australia, Music Maker, ArtsWest and Scoop. She was reviews editor for the now defunct Specusphere magazine and, writing as Satima Flavell, has also published poetry and fantasy fiction.