when two become one

varia karipoff: stephanie lake, dual

Alisdair Macindoe, Sara Black, Dual

Alisdair Macindoe, Sara Black, Dual

DUAL, SAYS CHOREOGRAPHER STEPHANIE LAKE, IS A PUZZLE OR MATHEMATICAL EQUATION WHERE 1 + 1 DOESN’T NECESSARILY EQUAL THE SUM OF ITS PARTS (PROGRAM NOTE). IT ALL SOUNDS A BIT LEFT BRAIN BUT IS ACTUALLY A SIMPLE IDEA—TWO SOLOS WHOSE PERPLEXING PIECES CLICK TOGETHER IN THE THIRD ACT.

Even knowing the premise of the dance, there was a collective moment when the neat synthesis in the third act became apparent. Dual looks at union, what is lost and gained when two become one, or when one and one become two—however you choose to look at it.

Dual seems to play on its phonic proximity to ‘duel’—a combat between two individuals. Pulsing, unrelenting electronic beats set the scene for the first solo, performed by Alisdair Macindoe. The frantic, street-style moves of the opening minutes made me think of a dance battle. Macindoe has seizure-like interactions with the music, shaking violently then switching to perform a break dancing hand glide or an arabesque. The energy required for this solo is on another level—Macindoe displays control amid the blistering and chaotic pace. As he slows down to a piano composition we begin to pick up mime-like gestures, his hands interacting with the invisible.

Alisdair Macindoe, Dual

Alisdair Macindoe, Dual

That invisible element, we later see, is the female soloist Sara Black who displays both grit and a nervy tic in her performance. The string composition that accompanies her piece is discordant and her shoulder rolls and hip thrusts are every bit as tightly wound as in the preceding solo. Though slight, her musculature and her matching Macindoe’s speed and energy skirted associations of yin and yang duality. Initially, I thought the dance would avoid the prescribed male/female strength and weakness ‘coming together.’ There are frequent pauses when Black wears a blank, blinking stare, as though she is trying to make sense of the intangible. Through this strangeness, the solo choreography seems to grant the dancers an overarching individuality unrelated to gender. Then there are times when Black’s rigid, shaking body is akin to a rag doll and there’s a sense of foreboding when the music switches to gun shot drumming.

Robin Fox weaves the beats and strings from the two solos together in the third act. It’s not a perfect marriage; there is still something unsettled and frantic about the combination that begs questions. The physical proximity and constant contact that pervades the third act is immediately heralded with a lift. Black leaps and curls up in Macindoe’s arms. Later she poignantly touches his foot. In her solo, her fingers would have been brushing the air. While the moves of the dancers gain meaning we see their solos lose their surreal and idiosyncratic qualities.

 Sara Black, Alisdair Macindoe, Dual

Sara Black, Alisdair Macindoe, Dual

The presence of the formerly absent partner reveals the complete mirroring of roles—Black’s blank staring is now at Macindoe and in this third act, gender plays a more telling role. Black is lying on her stomach, lifting her back or leg off the ground. Macindoe restricts her movements by pushing her body back to the floor. It is a brutal moment without being overtly violent, the movements carefully arranged to steer clear of cliché. Lake presents a story every bit as confusing, fraught and fragile as any relationship; the two sides—a soaring lift or a cruel push back to earth—are presented without her own conclusions weighing in. Never breaking into a duel, the duet is about a push and pull, best exemplified when the dancers stand across from each other taking turns to breathe in and out as though one organism.

Dance Massive, Arts House: choreographer, costume designer Stephanie Lake, performers Alisdair Macindoe, Sara Black, composer, lighting designer Robin Fox, producer Freya Waterson, Insite Arts; Arts House, Meat Market, Melbourne, March 12-16; http://dancemassive.com.au/

RealTime issue #114 April-May 2013 pg. 28

© Varia Karipoff; for permission to reproduce apply to realtime@realtimearts.net

15 March 2013
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