Nicole Eckersley

Alisdair Macindoe and Sara Black perform two solos choreographed by Stephanie Lake, which then combine thrillingly in the final act.

It’s difficult, when reviewing dance, not to bang on about tension and fluidity. Obviously, all dance contains some measure of tension and fluidity; it’s like flour in baked goods. But where Stephanie Lake’s Dual is concerned, it is necessary to put the words ‘TENSION’ and ‘FLUIDITY’ in big neon letters, underline them twice and possibly add the words ‘REALLY RATHER SPECTACULAR’ in front of them.

This pair of solos, performed respectively by Alisdair Macindoe and Sara Black, are performed together in a third act. Each solo is hypnotic, filled with alternatingly fluid and jerky movements, and with motions that alternate between agency and a sense of the presence of (deliciously foreshadowing) external forces. Macindoe’s solo is mechanical, lyrical and almost offensively accomplished; Black’s conveys a casual power, even anger, that alternates with liquidity and is equally depressing to mere mortals in its magnificent execution.

The two solos – previously somewhat dreamy – emerge as a single complex work with a distinct sense of human intimacy, agency and restraint when performed together. Gender roles appear from what was previously background noise. Interactions that veer from beautiful to confronting come together out of pieces that made much less sense (or totally different sense) on their own. The faster elements of Lake’s choreographic style – complex, swift movements that are reminiscent of capoeira performed eight inches apart by dancers with at least four more joints than is normal – really shine in the duet.

The piece’s most beautiful lasting message is inherent in its structure: that in many ways, a relationship is made out of two individuals doing together what they might otherwise have done alone, and that many human actions only make sense in the presence of another human.

This is a work that’s as close to bare bones as possible: two people, without props, in unceremonious clothes on a blank white floor, their only assistance coming from Robin Fox’s stunning soundtrack and a smidge of lighting. Given this complete lack of set dressing, it’s hard to imagine a more evocative, powerful, intricate and endlessly fascinating result.

Rating: 4 stars out of 5


Choreographer/Costume Designer: Stephanie Lake
Performers: Alisdair Macindoe, Sara Black
Composer/Lighting Designer: Robin Fox
Production Manager: Chris Mercer
Producer: Freya Waterson, Insite Arts


Arts House Meat Market, North Melbourne

12 – 16 March


Dance Massive 2013


12 – 24 March


About the author

Nicole Eckersley is a Melbourne based writer, editor and reviewer.