MELBOURNE FRINGE: Inspired by choreographer Tina Evans’ 2010 visit to the Antarctic, this delicate work was danced upon cold concrete in the rain.
The music for the Fringe dance work, Polarity, is the actual soundscape created by icebergs shifting and breaking up into smaller chunks (called, marvelously, ‘calving’). It is eerie, powerful and atmospheric. This work was developed following an Australian Antarctic Arts fellowship, awarded for the first time to a dance company. Polarity is the result, where the transformation of monumental blocks of ice is re-enacted by the bodies of six dancers.

Choreographer and performer/actor Tina Evans visited the Antarctic last year and met Philip Samartzis, who made these recordings of the wonderful natural music which Evans uses to surround the audience in a pristine environment where the slow disintegration of icebergs forms its own rhythms. The work was performed on the roof of Federation Square car park, with the backdrop of the city as an incongruous, poignant, powerful contrast to the natural world evoked.

Flowing movements are counterpoised with awkward poses held tensely and tightly; masses are formed and broken down, shuddering and clinging to themselves in the last seconds of fragmentation. The work is spread out over a wide space, creating a sense of vastness and the audience was free to roam around during the performance.

It rained the night I saw Polarity, and reflections of the dancers in pools of water provided a remarkable extra beauty to the experience.

It is a lovely piece and the images remain with you. That the dancers are performing on concrete and could easily be injured adds a slight poignancy to the awareness of the fragility of the Antarctic world. There is a delicacy to the work; at times, however, this amounts to a lack of muscularity and vigour; the dancers seem almost too fragile and ethereal for the majestic forms they are creating. This is no doubt a result of their dancing on this surface. I would love to see this work in a studio where the dancers’ strength can be allowed its full flourishing and there can be more dynamic differentiation in the energy; Polarity often relied on repetitive movements in a work that nearly became limited in dimension.

Rating: Four stars

Directed and Devised by Tina Evans
Dancers: Jeni Sutton, Hayley Thompson, Cathy Young, Heidi McKerrow, Cara Thomas and Rhiannon Ferris
Lighting design: Michael Parry
Federation Square, Melbourne
October 5 - 8

Melbourne Fringe Festival
September 21 – October 9


Tuesday 11 October, 2011

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