Next Wave: Concealed and revealed

Jonathan Marshall: dance in Next Wave

Next Wave's Short Circuit had the usual strengths and weaknesses of a mixed bill, being at times awkward and at other times sublime. Overall the theatrical pieces tended to be weaker than the dance.

Kath Skipp presented one of her first choreographic works, Beyond Skin, a duet performed with dancer Amber Haines, a pleasing glitchie score by Ryan Ritchie and video projections by Norm Skipp. Though the program notes implied the collaborative integration of projection and dance, in truth the video acted largely as attractive wallpaper. Very short repeated loops containing distorted images of the 2 dancers provided the main material, projected to one side or on top of the live action. Kath Skipp has worked with Anna Smith's co.motion, and the same slightly balletic, elongated grace, fluidity and lyricism informed much of the choreography of this work. The dancing was enlivened by the more angled, broken folding of the body typical of the work of Lucy Guerin, Gideon Obarzanek and Phillip Adams. Although Skipp has yet to develop a unique inflection of these elements, the execution was uniformly good, especially when the performers moved away from unison movement and instead counter-pointed each other. This, together with a simple design aesthetic of red and white, made for a fine piece.

Paul Romano offered his latest self-performed movement sketch, Birdtalk, apparently inspired by working with multiple, shifting characters. The choreography did indeed have a sense of constant rearrangement and settling into new states. Some of Romano's previous pieces drew on yoga and there is a strong sculptural sense to his choreography. A gentle yet nevertheless precisely articulated progression from one central resting place or pose provided the central temporal, rhythmic, physical and spatial structure for the show. Although Romano's work remains within an essentially unadorned studio aesthetic, the emotional correspondences of the movement with David Corbet's variegated, abstract electronica and musique concrete score shows that the dancer is beginning to seriously address such questions as lighting and a more totally designed performance environment.

Romano similarly offered some relief from his typically blank-faced yet open performative execution, with snatches of pedestrian activity and facial gestures absurdly arising from within this otherwise rather formalistic work. Running, chewing and indistinct vocalisations gave a pleasant sense of fun to this generally cool performance.

The highlight of Short Circuit was Rosie Dennis' disarmingly simple Polish. This superb improvised solo involved the self-conscious selection and execution of a never-ending stream of straying thoughts, small, repetitive, almost imprisoning gestures, and beautifully slight, measured nuances. Dennis made small, careful steps about the space, walking, running, and standing awkwardly, one hand raised in question, fingers fluttering, while quietly burbling associative ideas. The material was marked by the revelation of otherwise suppressed tensions, hidden ideas and normally held-in jitters. Concealing and revealing provided the central motif, articulated through musings about card playing, dice and mathematical results (“4 by 4 is 16. 16. Square.”). The willow o' the wisp poetry of the piece was a sheer delight, recalling Margaret Trail's studies in vocalisation and Amanda Stewart's concrete poetry. Short Circuit showed that Skipp, Romano and Dennis are artists to watch out for.

Short Circuit, 45 Downstairs, Melbourne, May 18-30

RealTime issue #62 Aug-Sept 2004 pg. Onl

© Jonathan Marshall; for permission to reproduce apply to realtime@realtimearts.net

1 August 2004