Rachel Ross

Chunky Move's Aorta brings the brings the interior outuside, focusing on our body's internal movements and rhythms.

Photo by Jeff Busby. 

Aorta, choreographed and directed by Green Room award-winning choreographer and dancer Stephanie Lake, is a compelling piece which uses contemporary dance to explore the inner workings of the body. 

This is the second time that Lake has been commissioned through Chunky Move’s Next Move program and she has based this production quite literally on the aorta - the body’s main artery leading from the heart - using the metronomic nature of this vital organ as it maps time as her inspiration. 

Performed by three dancers, James Pham, Josh Mu and James Batchelor, costumes were designed by self-confessed “crafter”, Shio Otani and consisted of white pants and loosely fitting macramé-like tops. The set was minimalistic and was made up of three vertical projections, with the lighting predominantly in black and white.

The dancers showed incredible control and were able to convey both strength and vulnerability simultaneously. They displayed subtle shifts of energy and the sense that they were being externally controlled.  Images of synaptic activity were conjured, the three dancers seemingly inter-connected, calling to mind the inner workings of a complex machine or perhaps the inner workings of mitochondria within a cell. They moved as if charged by electricity to the frenetic, percussive beat.

Classically-trained James Pham was a stand out performer, concluding the program with a virtuosic solo, which ended with the projections of flat-lines on the three screens.

Robin Fox,who has collaborated on a number of Chunky Move productions, composed the music and took charge of the lighting in his usual skillful fashion. His original composition helped to set the atmosphere and featured deep bass notes, electronica with distortion and the strong use of percussion. Corybantic beats called to mind a racing pulse at times and at others the piercing tones of medical equipment.

Overall Aorta was a gripping, visceral sixty minute experience and one not to be missed by lovers of contemporary dance.

4 stars 

Aorta by Stephanie Lake
Direction and choreography by Stephanie Lake
Composition and lighting by Robin Fox
Projection Design by Rhian Hinkley
Costume design by Shio Otani

Production Manager: Michael Carr

Stage manager: Blair Hart

System operator: Nick Roux

Performers – James Batchelor, Josh Mu, James Pham

Chunky Move Studios 111 Sturt Street Southbank, VIC 3006

November 21–  November 30

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

Rachel Ross has completed a Science degree but also has an interest in the arts. Good friends and good food are passions and she likes to regularly combine the two. Rachel Ross is currently a reviewer for ArtsHub.