Great Escapes, Dancehouse

Rachel Fensham

Is it possible to talk about first, second, third generation contemporary choreographers in Australia—what constitutes a generation? At Dancehouse’s Great Escapes—two week-ends of continuous dancing, one event following another for up to four hours—generations came and went. There were the subtly skilled bodies of trained dancers and ex-company dancers—Dianne Reid and Rochelle Carmichael—doing sinuous solos or showing the work of their fledgling companies. There were the frisky bodies of Al Wunder’s studio in Five Square Metres. There were the modern dancers still stretching fabric and making elegant gestures (Arches of Desire and Mind the Gap) and there were the intensely Butoh and psychological, Tony Yap again. Others bordering on the edge between the banal and the truly funny, Suit, and still more.

Dancehouse is meeting a real need for independent dancers, or dancers in general, to have a place to show work and to meet one another in a polyglot and non-judgmental environment. The newly polished jarrah floor of this old building shone more than some of the works but then the mobile crowd came and went with enthusiasm for what they saw. It’s cheap and diverse and the format does allow dancers to tease a little and test a little. I missed Jane Refshauge’s solo but was told it had a focus on inner listening which was quite foreign to the refinements of a younger generation. One of my favourites was Steven Pease’s monologue in the midst of Yap’s A Little Escape into the Subterranean; no dancing, but standing still he took us on a rapid journey from kitchen table to maggots, worms, urethra and Vikings—far more grotesque than the other sweaty bodies around him. Perhaps the ultimate escape was Breaking Free of Human Bondage in which Andrew Casey, pinned to a ganchion on the brick wall, hurled himself at the audience while his dog was tied to a pillar in the yard outside, barking wildly. On the first performance the rope broke, nearly demolishing the front row of spectators wrapped in their blankets. The second night audience missed the return visit.

RealTime issue #13 June-July 1996 pg. 36

© Rachel Fensham; for permission to reproduce apply to realtime@realtimearts.net

1 June 1996