a spontaneous sounding

jodie mcneilly sees lucy guerin’s aether

Aether, Lucy Guerin Inc

Aether, Lucy Guerin Inc

Aether, Lucy Guerin Inc

IN LUCY GUERIN’S AETHER THE NOTION OF “HYPERIMMEDIACY” (GETTING IT ALL AT THE SAME TIME) IS FOREGROUNDED IN HER INTERROGATION OF CONTEMPORARY COMMUNICATION. TO BEGIN, THE DANCERS SIT AND TEAR NEWSPAPER INTO SMALL PIECES, LAYING OUT PATTERNS ON THE FLOOR WITHIN A DECORATIVE TOPOGRAPHY. ONCE THE AUDIENCE IS SETTLED, THE ARTFULLY POSITIONED PAPER IS DISREGARDED—THE DANCERS KICK THESE THOUGHTFUL ARRANGEMENTS ACROSS THE STAGE. PERMANENCE PLAYS NO ROLE HERE. MY ATTENTION PASSES QUICKLY TO SCREEN IMAGES AND DANCER ARTICULATIONS BUILDING AND OSCILLATING WITH VARYING INTENSITIES, DIRECTIONS, VELOCITIES AND TEXTURES.

The first section of Aether plunges us into a world of odd kinesis. The five dancers, both male and female wearing A-line mini dresses but without otherwise marking gender, merge in and out of solos, duets, trios and a final folk-like quartet of hand holding and lifts. Strange eddying connections present a new language system. The performers displace and frame each other in a moving picture of dissonant images and attuned movement motifs, but it is not machine-like. The angular, jerky intricacies of finger movement, weight shifting stutters and straight limbed rocking are elements organic to the environment they disclose. Fingertips flutter and clench with deep sea resonances; forearms emerge from arms folded across faces like sniffing proboscises; small faltering steps frolic, forming little dances never quite the same. I feel privy to the opening of a beautiful music box, a tireless frenzied wonderland where—despite the entrancement—I think it safer to close the lid.

A rectangular band of light replaces the former video frieze of a vintage bather, duplicated, scratched and rubbed. The dancers perform in front of the screen, changing levels and positions, creating a three-tiered tableau of silhouettes, unlit bodies and illuminated gestures, transforming fluidly to create a volumetric prism of body, light and screen.

The final half of Aether draws on improvisation with some playfully intricate moments between Byron Perry and Antony Hamilton beneath the paper, and a pinching investigation of the outer crease of Hamilton’s knee joint by Kirstie McCracken. Gerald Mair’s score is replaced by the sounding of performers, who vocalise communication between these twitching creatures of the aether, now with personalities and emotions. Small vignettes take on commedia like traits: newspaper as mask, hat and cane. The show ends with Hamilton framed between two audiences, ourselves and the other dancers. He moves smoothly, demanding attention, with a pulsing reminiscent of break dancing and popping.

Against the chaotic, endlessly satiating mass media and battles for personal attention, Aether resolutely offers the spontaneous responses of the moving, sounding body.

Lucy Guerin Inc, choreography Lucy Guerin, performers Antony Hamilton, Kyle Kremerskothen, Kirstie McCracken, Byron Perry, Lee Serle, motion graphic design Michaela French, composer Gerald Mair, costume design Paula Levis, lighting design Keith Tucker; Playhouse, Sydney Opera House, Jan 23-26

RealTime issue #83 Feb-March 2008 pg. 12

1 February 2008