KING, a collaboration between director/choreographer Shaun Parker and Bulgarian songwriter/vocalist Ivo Dimchev, is a tender, visceral experience exploring ideas of masculinity in a way that’s equally entertaining and confronting.
The heart of the piece is the interplay between the magnetic vocalist, Dimchev, and the corps of suited male dancers. Dimchev’s movement is slow and sinuous, in line with his high warbling voice. The melodies he delivers feel familiar, though are original numbers, and are made dreamlike by virtue of his ethereal delivery. It’s too easy to be seduced by his voice.
Dimchev’s stable presence is a counterpoint to the more dynamic ecosystem of the dancers. They begin in suits, bordered in by the greenery of the set. Moving through a set of circus-like, precise motions, they slowly but surely descend into something more human and primal. Their movement is sharp and angular, and most impressive when they seem to form one organism with many different moving parts, some of which are violent, others intimate, and sometimes both.
There are pockets of what appear to be narrative – Parker definitely successfully shapes the show such the that 80 minute running time never seems to sag. The most memorable sequence relates to opposing forces in the masculine identity, represented by two dancers in the corps. The asymmetry of their physical stature and costuming creates a relationship that feels both unusual and honest – a punctuating visual image that asks questions about how men represent themselves to other men. It’s answered in a brutal fashion: self-destruction.
The whole work is crammed with ideas and moments circling around this main theme, all of which are boldly rendered. It can sometimes feel like these components could blend more to better cohere, but with so much to offer, it seems unbecoming to turn away a feast fit for a king.
Eric Qian is an Asian-Australian artist interested in the intersections between different disciplines, artistic or otherwise.
KING runs to 24 Feb. at the Seymour Centre. Watch the trailer here. Buy tickets now.
Disclosure: The Plus Ones were invited guests of Humankind PR.
Image Credit: Prudence Upton