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An Interplay of Shadow and Light

Australasian Dance Collective finally presented its second iteration of the triple bill “Three” to a very eager audience. Originally slated to be performed back in February, the Brisbane floods caused the production to be halted in its tracks. Mid-tech rehearsal everything stopped—the dancers were evacuated, the theatre flooded, and people patiently waited to hear about the future of “Three.” Thankfully, nearly five months later, the production was staged in all its sensory splendour, and audiences flocked to the theatre to support the three new Australian works.

Performance

Australasian Dance Collective presents THREE

Place

Powerhouse Theatre, Brisbane, Queensland, July 16, 2022

Words

Madelyn Coupe

“Limbic” by Cass Mortimer. Photograph by David Kelly

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The evening began with Cass Mortimer Eipper’s “Limbic”—a piece that experiments with sensory exploration and conscious intentions. In the programme, Mortimer Eipper notes that the creative process for “Limbic” drew inspiration from how humans process information. And the incomprehensible parts of us that are beyond our volition.

“Limbic” by Cass Mortimer. Photograph by David Kelly

“Limbic” focuses specifically on the relationship our nervous system has with our brain—a complex and ambitious conceptual scaffold that, surprisingly, translated well onstage. The space became a conduit for the system. The dancers, each in their individuality, took on the role of the nerves. The choreography was the cords that connected the dancers together whilst also communicating messages to them but also to the audience. And the stage, the space within which the system was operating. The dancers had an intrinsic link to one another. Their bodies transitioned from robotic and static movements to slow and fluid extensions that rippled throughout their limbs. Credit goes to Lonii Garnons-Williams who was a standout performer in this piece. She had an innate ability to hold the audience’s gaze captive when shifting through these transitions. Even when the stage was still and the dancers froze in place, “Limbic” had a sense of life bursting from its seams. Through Mortimer Eipper’s choreography an experimentation was taking place, one between the known and unknown. And we, as the audience, were encouraged to accept all the things we could and could not articulate.

“Something There is That Doesn’t Love a Wall” by Kate Harman. Photograph by David Kelly

Next was “Something There is That Doesn’t Love a Wall”, choreography by Kate Harman in collaboration with the dancers of ADC. In short, Harman’s work is best described as creative play. A spectrum of emotions was presented onstage—humour, joy, frustration, delight—and the dancers played with these feelings through their movements. The work began as a chaotic mess of limbs. The dancers positioned themselves in a ball-like clump that moved throughout the space. They pulled, pushed, crawled, and tugged until they slowly separated, and everyone was detached. Tyrel Dulvarie shone in this piece; his liquid fluidity moved effortlessly across the stage.

“Something There is That Doesn’t Love a Wall” explores the human desire to be grounded whilst also wishing to be boundless and free. Harman sets up a large conceptual idea for her work; however, there is a slight separation between the written concept and what was presented onstage. The collaboration between Harman and the dancers examined the walls we put up as people, and it is as if the work, itself, had a barrier around it that prevented the audience from pinpointing its exact meaning.

“The Incandescent Dark” by Gabrielle Nankivell. Photograph by David Kelly

The night concluded with “The Incandescent Dark,” choreographed by Gabrielle Nankivell and also in collaboration with the ADC dancers. It engaged with ideas about presence and absence—an interplay between shadow and light. “The Incandescent Dark” is a haunting and yet beautifully touching work. Light was a major part of this piece. There was an emphasis on what was seen and what was chosen to be hidden in the darkness. A soft defused yellow light made the stage appear otherworldly. When the dancers moved onstage, their shadows became creatures in their own right—separate entities creating their own harrowing movements. When the lights changed to shine a harsher white reality, the movements mimicked this shift. The shadows hid, withdrawing back into the recesses from which they came, only to return again when the light permitted. A true highlight of this work was watching the lyrical athleticism of Harrison Elliot. His body and his presence consumed the space around him, unwavering in his dedication to experimenting with light and shade. A special mention must also go to Luke Smiles whose score (which has a very similar feel to Hans Zimmer’s Interstellar) feeds into the haunting atmosphere of “The Incandescent Dark”. A poignant yet pleasurable end to the night.

Madelyn Coupe


Madelyn is a Dramaturg and Former Ballerina based in Brisbane. She holds a BA (Honours) in Drama and is currently undertaking postgraduate study specialising in Classical Ballet Dramaturgy.

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