Clare Dyson's Spices

Julia Postle

Megan Millband, Spices

Megan Millband, Spices

Megan Millband, Spices

It was another strange Canberra summer’s evening. The sun was hanging low in the sky and there was a strong cooling wind as we drove along the lane to the Old Canberra Brickworks. We were given a map and a torch for our journey, and so set off to experience Spices—the latest project for Clare Dyson and Rachel Jennings. It began with sustained stillness. Five individuals sat, backs to us, on an old pergola-like structure; their visual backdrop the trees and their aural backdrop the rustling leaves and bird calls prompted by the setting sun. Beneath them: still water and a line of brick stepping stones through the pool. When movement began, it was slow and gentle—rolling, torsos hanging over the edge, a lifting of legs. Then one of the more resonant motifs of the work—the kicking and dropping of stones into the pool below. From here, the work heightened our awareness of the workings of our senses and the relationship between sense and memory. We later moved through a brick passageway and passed by a series of isolated vignettes: a representation of lust and desire, with a blindfolded woman caressed and whispered to by 2 others; a woman sucking from passionfruit, spitting the luscious flesh onto her thigh and then smearing it over her skin. It is the communication between artist and audience that is so well-developed in Spices. The use of water and fire, the fresh smells of passionfruit and lemons, and the placement of voice and song, light and darkness. Our journey is a completely sensory one. It is Dyson and Jenning’s keen awareness of the power of detail through these elements that connects with their audience. With its combination of superb design by Jennings—so well-placed in this setting—and Dyson’s interrogation of movement and gesture, Spices has a deeper, more personal connection. This is soul food.

Spices, created and directed by Clare Dyson and Rachel Jennings, a choreographic fellowship with the Choreographic Centre, old Canberra Brickworks, Yarralumla, Dec 9 – 13, 15 – 17

RealTime issue #29 Feb-March 1999 pg. 28

© Julia Postle; for permission to reproduce apply to realtime@realtimearts.net

1 February 1999