DANCE REVIEW: Short+Sweet, Week One

Lynne Lancaster

Under the direction of Olivia Ansell, each week for three weeks ten short works are performed, a showcase for developing Australian choreographic talent, and there are plans for interstate and international tours.
DANCE REVIEW: Short+Sweet, Week One
Similar in some ways to Resolution! at the Place in London, this is the second year of Short+ Sweet Dance in Sydney. Under the direction of Olivia Ansell, each week for three weeks ten short works are performed, a showcase for developing Australian choreographic talent, and there are plans for interstate and international tours. Week One revealed some very exciting work. A very strong start was Awakening by Paulina Quinteros. For the opening section the floor is covered with rippling blue cloth and the first section rather invokes mermaids, with wonderful flowing, splashing arms. Then there was the dramatic fire worship-like section to the frenetic Taikoz drums with long, red, billowing skirts for the women and black ones for the men. Jezabel Velvet began very well (Victoria Chu as an over excited jade peacock in a blue floral summer dress and wonderful messy hair in a spectacular opening) but then I am afraid, rather lost the plot. Too much was made of using technology (several TV screens) and speech and rope-swinging were also incorporated. The idea of celebrity worship was good but I am afraid it didn't quite come off, although some of the audience loved the bizarre humour. Touch by Catherine Hourihan, was a quite striking duet, powerful, passionate and intense, with melting, interlocking bodies, at times with possible hints of Meryl Tankard's stylistic influence. Dancers Sean Marcs and Natelle Pelarek wore matching red tops and dark shorts and looked almost like twins mirroring each other. The odd catchy title How to understand how big a blue whale is revealed the mesmerizing talent of dancer and choreographer Miranda Wheen. Purporting to be ‘about‘ ideas too big to grapple with. Piecing together, perspective. ‘How can we create the bigger picture if we can only see its parts?' she was an extraordinary figure in white (a pupil in training?) performing an amazing bird-like solo of fluid, Zen-like simplicity and at times in dialogue with her 'teacher' (Giulia Fragiacomo). The work opens with, both of them with books on their head and an earnest silent discussion. Choreographically there were allusions to Matthew Bourne, Michael Clark and Wheen's study with Germaine Acogny. During one section Fragiacomo turns the huge silver bowl she has been 'soaking' her feet in and uses it as a reflector/searchlight on Wheen. The last work before interval was the fiery and sexy Libertango performed and choreographed by William Centurion and Mariana Baltodano that sizzled delightfully. Act two opened with a confused and confusing work The Opposite of Prompt by Phluxus Dance Collective. While the individual performances were excellent and the idea behind it exciting (challenging the boundaries of performance and entering a parallel world of conflicting reality) I am afraid it didn't quite gel. Barber's Adagio, choreographed and performed by Chris Mayhew and Simonne Smiles was a lovely, soaring, almost sculptural work. Both dancers wore white and were barefoot in this challenging, acrobatic pas de deux that at times had echoes of the work of Sir Kenneth Macmillan. In total contrast was Are We There Yet? by Sarah-Vyne Vasallo. It examined human emotional baggage and also travel, desire and airport dreams or nightmares. The dancers have as props giant wheelie-bags that they slide, roll, run, duet with, croon over a fine, witty performance that ends with them being trapped in their bags. Or are they? Saving Face by Kevin Privett had very dramatic lighting and two fine performances by Privett and Verity Jacobson. About the bottling up of emotions and human interaction, Jacobsen is sensational in her opening solo in a black lace top outfit and braided hair. The work lightened with her interaction with Privett but concluded with a lonely, melancholy solo for Privett. What's Tappening? was a high-octane explosive energy firework finale of fabulous tapping, choreography by Thomas Egan, a huge crowd pleaser that left the audience breathless. A thought provoking opening week and I am looking forward to the rest of the season. SHORT+SWEET DANCE schedule

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.