Want to see cutting edge dance from specialist apprentices? Get down to the state’s specialist arts training academy of the Faculty of Fine Arts and Music at the Victorian College Of The Arts. Located beside NGV International and Arts Centre Melbourne, as part of our city’s unique arts precinct, this college is perfectly situated to harness the next gen’s creative capacity. This is an energised showcase which will instruct you in some of the key dance modes and styles of the past few decades. A great showcase to see talented dancers at work learning the vernacular of the next iteration of movement artists.
As part of their mid-course apprenticing, students train under guest choreographers and dance artists. This year’s program, Dance On, features an all female team who, in collaboration with second year Bachelor of Fine Arts(Dance) and Production students, have concocted four provocative new works, each very different and unique. Each work has its own dance style and movement system and come from the practice of accomplished dance makers and students
WA’s Hayley Roe’s Implicit Dependency thrilled me with its concentric circles, delicate, dreamy cross-stage jete and developpe canons, as with its thematic undercovering of multiple (feminine) selves. Like Russian dolls, one lead female dancer held our fascination with a series of selves copy and shadow her moves. Australian Dance Theatre’s Youth Ensemble’s Alexandra Dobson Wetherall’s divinely delicate and intimate Calving Face is about climate change and earthly loss, signifed by a tank which slowly fills to full with collected rainwater for the duration of the work. This superb piece mesmerised the audience- we didnt want it to end. Her all female work reminiscent of the great America choreographer of the 1970s, Twyla Tharp, the cast here showed us weighted control of the body through partnering, descents to the floor, rhythmic shape, and chorus structuring.
Brianna Kell’s The Wave Beneath Us opens the program and is a good showcase of modern dance patterning, vernacular and style. She does great work with patterns, diagonals, and linear use of space. The dancer’s timing is tight and impeccable, crucial elements working with Jonathan Boulet’s techno-like music design.
Chunky Move artist Alice Lee Holland(recently director of exciting outdoor group project, SIMULCAST) gave a work as two halves – the first the deconstrcuted fare common to the company’s style since the 2000s, where the body and style are experienced through an abstract analysis, with subjectivity second. Bodily actions or gestures are alienated and copied en masse to sound design as noise. The second part had a more organic feel and returned narrative to the dancers who demonstrated contact improvisational elements of weight transferance, trust, and coupling. This section spoke about relationshps and partnerships, the community and the connections between humans, and had lovely group cluster and cross-stage flowing line work.
You won’t just like the dancing. The costumes, lighting and sound design delight. Lexi De Silva in opening piece The Wave Beneath Us has uber-contemporary geometric design which speaks ‘modern dance’ paired with fab neon strips of lighting from Aedan Gale.
Juliet Bennie’s neutral toned naturalistic and workmanlike smocks are alluring and suit the ambiance of second work Calving Face with its wonderful air of intimacy and fragility. Themed around climate change and earthly shifts, Gales attenuated and shaded lighting harmonises gently with the movement design.
Third work Implicit Dependency is both magical feminine and fantasy or dream themed, and has Juliet Bennie dresses so divine I fantasised about buying one next summer. Sheaths of dark rainbow- coloured linen flow vertically on grecian-designed gowns across the bodies of the female cast. Lachlan Wolters lighting has a slightly hallucinogenic tone to it, working well alongside the other wordly, Alice-in-Wonderland feel of the work. Screen projections behind the dancers help create an internal zone. Sarah Su’s elegaic and delicate music is perfectly matched to the theme of the feminine and psyche. All these elements unify this piece.
The final piece, An Ode To Absent Things, is everyday nonchalance. Alexandra Hiller captures the everyday, urban person vibe of the work’s dance design. Maarja Nuut and Jlin’s amplification via sound is overwhelming and vibrant, pumping loudly as an assault, it vibrates through your body.
This showcase is great value and educational- catch some fresh dance to be bodily inspired!
is the Theatre Specialist for The Plus Ones, Melbourne. A performing arts and English literature graduate of VCA, UOM and Deakin, she has a flair for bold, non-traditional performance platforms. An active contributor to The Melbourne Shakespeare Society, on the street, or in the box seat, she is always looking for quality works that push the envelope.
VCA Dance ON shows 13-15 and 18-20 June, 7.30pm Thursday – Saturday and Tuesday – Thursday, 2pm Saturday (120 mins with interval) at Space 28, Performing Arts Building. Buy tickets here.
The venue is accessible.
Disclosure: The Plus Ones were guests of Fine Arts and Music At Melbourne- VCA & Conservatorium.
Images: Gregory Lorenzuti.