Big Dance in Small Chunks

Lynne Lancaster

Terrific dancing and superb choreography are combined in the premiere performance by Dance Makers Collective.
Big Dance in Small Chunks

Ten dance artists present nine new and exciting short works in the premiere performance of the Dance Makers Collective to kick off the Form Dance 2013 season, and what a fabulous beginning. Featuring a wonderful variety of choreographic form, style and content, there is something here for everyone. 

The first half opened and closed with an excellent trio of dancers  in a biting tribute to a dancer’s commitment and performance discipline - they are in fact expected to do the ‘triple threat’. ‘Fit to Shift’ demanded split second precision timing and impressive coordination from its cast. The opening with the sudden appearance of a dancer projected onto the floor made some of the audience jump. The ending had a floating lyrical like quality yet also a somewhat disjointed feel as the coloured screen projection of the dancer was reflected in the boxes held aloft by the live cast.

‘Dancing With’ was an intense, fast paced and very tricky to perform duet with lots of circular fast ballroom footwork and simultaneously a concentration on tiny structured intimate arm/hand movements as well as some most unusual lifts.      

The second half opened very strongly with a terrific solo ‘Yes I  Can’ choreographed and performed by Miranda Wheen. It is an ode to the hidden powerful ‘faceless men’ behind politics. Wheen is mysteriously ambiguous, slumped in a dark suit on a chair. Isolation movements and repeated short phrases of movement echoed like short sound bites. Wheen seems rather blank faced and robotic and squirms uneasily as if in answer to unasked awkward questions. Her outstretched arms implore us to trust her – but do we? The finale is exultant.

‘The Ultimate Human Seduction’ performed in loud Hawaiian shirts and knee pads was MTV in style - messy, fast and funky – and apparently an audience favourite.

‘Mobius’ was a fascinating combination of amplified flute, computer technology and dance which created  rippling ribbons of lines on the floor that ebbed and flowed in response to the dancers’ movement and the music. Fast spiky flute music was answered with slow circular movements to draw with light.   

The final work ‘Zeitgist’, featuring the entire cast, at first had the dancers in a sculptural mass, trapped in a square of light with repeated frieze like movements (hints of Nijinsky’s ‘Afternoon of a Faune ‘perhaps?). Eventually one dancer escapes and the choreography changes to liquid, expressive movement, with a joyous energetic feel and long wild hair on a couple of the female dancers .Then, suddenly, stormy flashes of light and we return to the opening trio who become inundated with balls and exercise equipment.

A most exciting programme showcasing some superb dancing and intriguing choreography. I am looking forward to the next season by the Dance Makers Collective.       

Rating: 4 stars out of 5             

Running time: 1 hour 50 (approx) including interval

Big Dance in Small Chunks ran at Parramatta Riverside 23-26 October. 

Dance Makers Collective Reel 2013 - Update from Dance Makers Collective on Vimeo.

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

Lynne Lancaster is a Sydney based arts writer who has previously worked for Ticketek, Tickemaster and the Sydney Theatre Company. She has an MA in Theatre from UNSW, and when living in the UK completed the dance criticism course at Sadlers Wells, linked in with Chichester University.