danse (3) – sans spectacle

Lynne Lancaster

This 'dance without spectacle' is part of Performance space's You're History season, celebrating 30 years.
danse (3) – sans spectacle

Image supplied.

Part of Performance Space’s ‘You’re History!’ season at Carriageworks, which is celebrating 30 years of performances, was Danse sans spectacle – dance without spectacle. This strange, challenging performance by Australian choreographer Rosalind Crisp was dance stripped back to basics; reinforcing her work at the cutting edge of contemporary dance.

There were no sets or props or costumes. The three barefoot dancers (Crisp, Debyser and Fossati) wore casual rehearsal gear in the form of grey hooded tracksuits. The dance was performed in silence, with atmospheric gloomy lighting. The work had started before we entered and the audience was divided into three sections and perched uncomfortably on awkward cushions. Although at times the dancers danced almost in the audience there was no real emotional interaction between dancers and observers. When the three performers were dancing beside /behind the audience it was a difficult decision to work out who to focus on. 

It was an analysis of pure movement. Small phrases of everyday activities were repeated. In some ways it was similar to Cunningham’s style and there was also a use of the deep Graham plie. Some of the movements emphasised the long line of the body in arabesque, others were twisted and distorted or shaky. There was slithering floor work - rolling with a solid, sculptural feel.

The three barefoot performers mostly concentrate on doing their own thing and had small featured solos; only very occasionally and briefly were there duos and no actual touching or partnering. Crisp used ballet as a base but melded with contemporary dance – strict classical ballet turn out one second, parallel first the next. Generally the three dancers seemed to be enclosed in their own invisible vertical box space. Lunges, tai chi, bent elbows and long, gracefully stretched arms, a flip of the hand and ‘broken’ wrists were all included.

The work finished with a meditative darkness and silence, three shadowy figures looming ominously from the walls.

3.5 stars

Running time 40 mins (approx) no interval

Danse (3) sans spectacle was at Carriageworks November 30 and Dec 1 2013 for 4 performances only

Rosalind Crisp/Omeo Dance

Assisted by Andrew Morrish

Lighting design Marco Wehrspann

Peformers :  Rosalind Crisp , Celine Debyser and Max Fossati

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.