Between freedom and anticipation

Philipa Rothfield makes her way through original home

Ros Warby, original home

Ros Warby, original home

A trio of objects begins the piece, their arbitrary motions engendered by some offstage intentionality. An oval stone rolls onstage, wobbles, rolls, wobbles and finally rests. Quiet reigns. The passage and beauty of the stone’s journey says it all about this piece, wherein a setting was created which made space for the contemplation of this simple, moving object. We slowly meet the protagonists in this medley of objects, both animate and inanimate.

original home is improvised. It has movement, objects and sound; 3 people and many artefacts, both natural and constructed. Graeme Leak is credited with the sound objects but all the performers use them. Ros Warby stood on a weathered stone, a limpet extending her limbs against a white canvas. Shona Innes wielded enormous seed pods, ridiculous weapons in a comic duet. The objects made music but they also sang their own presence. I almost felt the plethora of objects was too much—transported on and off stage—they tended to break with the chaste atmosphere of the space. But then I decided that their transport was like a Brechtian device intended to mark the boundaries between particular sections of the work, and to allow the performers to be their ordinary selves.

The performance space had been reconstructed for the event, an interior layer of walls, gaps, pleats, and a wide rectangular window at the back from which spilled darkness and light. Warby stood against the window, not doing all that much. So much is conveyed in-between. Leak’s sense of musical timing was voluminous, allowing for an interweaving of kinaesthetic content.

The 3 performers made duets and trios, showing their year’s work together. Yet they didn’t blend into one another. At one point, Warby and Innes were bent over, each with one arm up. One arm so different from the other, animated according to 2 distinct corporealities. Innes’ opportunistic humour—lapping up the possibilities of the moment—was not mimicked by anyone else. The performers coalesced in the space of a single performance whilst listening to their own muse.

The trace of Deborah Hay’s recent visit was manifest here: no rush to get anywhere, always already there. Although it could be argued that all dance is a form of improvised movement, when you watch an ‘improvised work’ there is a sense of something over and above established choreography. Perhaps the difference lies in the observer. But the felt quality is of indeterminacy, a lack of predetermination, of multiple and not singular pathways. The point at which this is conveyed is when nothing is happening—for in that moment there is a vacillation between freedom and anticipation, between future and past, a pair of extremes which is only ever resolved in the present.

original home, (returning to it), director Ros Warby, choreography/composition /performance Ros Warby, Shona Innes and Graeme Leak, lighting design Margie Medlin, design Ros Warby, Margie Medlin; Dancehouse, Melbourne, February 5 – 14

RealTime issue #30 April-May 1999 pg. 32

© Philipa Rothfield; for permission to reproduce apply to realtime@realtimearts.net

1 April 1999
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