Thomas E.S Kelly and Carl Tolentino in LINEAGE. Pic Maylei Hunt
Thomas E.S Kelly and Carl Tolentino in LINEAGE. Pic Maylei Hunt

Form Dance Projects and Riverside are currently presenting the production LINEAGE with performances that draw from traditional Indian dance as well as  modern dance, performed by Australian indigenous dancers.

The opening piece, VANDANA, is performed by Aruna Gandhimathinathan and Shruti Ghosh. Aruna & Shruti were both classically trained in India. In VANDANA the performers seek the grace of the Hindu deities, Lord Ganesha, Goddess Saraswathi, Lord Hayagriva and Lord Guru. Their costumes are bright and colourful and their dance is graceful, energetic and enthralling. Their hand gestures and head and eye movements are subtle, precise and captivating. Their ankle bells create a rhythm and add another dimension to their performance. They are accompanied by beautiful, droning Indian music.

Shruti then performs a solo piece, KATHAK NRITTA, a very rhythmic piece of Kathak style dance. The complicated beats known as Rudra Taal (11 beats) and Teentaal (16 beats) work well with the dancer’s ankle bells.

Aruna’s solo performance, JATISWARAM IN BHARATANATYAM, is a more graceful dance accompanied by haunting and melodic Indian flute. The stage was dimly light, the backdrop was illuminated and the dance was performed in silhouette, – all together a sublime combination.

Aruna & Shruti performed a duet, YAHI MADHAVA, which describes a conversation between Radha and Krishna. It is one of the highlights of the evening. Radha is annoyed with Krishna as he has been unfaithful again, but Krishna’s dance, ubiquitous flute playing and deep love for Radha eventually holds sway and the couple are reunited.

After the interval Thomas E.S. Kelly and Carl Tolentino performed DARK DREAM. This is a work that explores nightmares where we are tormented by the presence of a creature along with a feeling of helplessness. Contemporary techniques draw on Thomas E.S. Kelly’s indigenous background to explore a haunted subconscious.

A DIP FOR NARCISSUS is Tammi Gissell’s interpretation of the myth of Narcissus. Tammi explores her sense of self and reflects on aspects of her life that influence how she sees herself. The use of simple props and dramatic dance movements encourage deep introspection.

WALKING THE PATH OF LINEAGE is the final work. Aruna and Shruti explore the world of rhythm utilising their respective Bharatanatyam and Kathak dance backgrounds. The dance utilises a playful calling and answer format. The special feature of this work is Prabhu Osoniqs’ use of and playing of The Hang, a modern Swiss musical instrument which works like a cross between a tabla and a steel drum. It looks like two large woks put together with a few holes in it and is played with the hands. It provides a wonderful melody and rhythm and amounted to a fascinating and sublime finish to the evening.

 LINEAGE opened at the Riverside Theatre, Parramatta on Thursday 23rd May and plays until Saturday 25th May.


Pic Chris Herzfeld
Pic Chris Herzfeld

Hotly anticipated and at the start of a national tour, this very short visit by Australian Dance Theatre from Adelaide with ‘G’ would have to be one of Sydney‘s dance calendar highlights for 2013.

This is Stewart’s second ‘deconstruction’ of a major classical ballet piece – the first was his terrific ‘Birdbrain’ based on ‘Swan Lake’. While based on the same work, it is about as different from the traditional ‘Giselle’ (a la the magnificent Paris Opera Ballet’s version seen here in January for example) that you can get. It is a driving, relentless full throttle contemporary deconstruction of  ‘Giselle ‘ with amazing dancing. Technically it superb, performed with extraordinary energy ,speed, commitment and control . In Stewart’s choreography , while using classical technique as a base, there are elements of tai chi, fencing and breakdancing ( among other things ) included .Stewart demands that the dancers be incredibly athletic, almost boneless and prepared to throw themselves around the stage in explosive yet soft jumps and rolls. There is an incredible intensity and energy throughout.

Various snippets of the now ‘traditional ‘ Corralli/Perrott/Petipa choreography are referred to (eg Myrthe’s bouree , the Act1 pas de deux ), twisted and reworked. It all begins with a beautifully balletic turned out walk that, repeated and repeated, becomes almost conveyer-belt like . There are some sharp explosive small solos , contrasted with full ensemble work at some points. At one stage there is an angular writhing sculptural mass. Sometimes there are unexpected straight arms in low arabesque or angular arms , twitches and rolls and almost Bournonville like fast ,fleet footwork. There was a splendid moment when Samantha Hines ( I think ) became for a moment the idea of a Romantic fragile wraith like a leaf on a tree yet also dangerous and deadly. At various points all the  cast become Giselle , or Albrecht , or Hilarion or the vampire like Willis rather than one person specifically only playing one particular character.A sinuous,lyrical yet robotic topless pas de deux at a different point of the show must also be mentioned.

The dominant colour of this work is green (of the forest ?. Simply of the LED screen? )There is no real set as such apart from the large LED screen at the back shining with pixels that for most of the work has words or letters running across it , telling the story and analysing the characters of Giselle and looking at the position of women in society at the time. Costumes range from tracksuits to Gothicky like short semi-transparent tutus over leotards or a motley mix of these.With a nod to the original Adam score at the start and end of the show,Luke Smiles ‘ soundtrack beeps, hums ,throbs and crashes relentlessly .

Powerful ,hypnotic stuff this overwhelming astonishing work left the audience exhausted and breathless with excitement .  The running time was one hour straight through.

Australian Dance Theatre’s G played the Sydney Theatre between the 16th and 18th May and then tours nationally.




Natalie Abbott and Rebecca Jensen in PHYSICAL FRACTALS

This is one of those challenging works that sharply divides audiences and critics. Some (most) apparently loved it, were rapt and watched intently while others I noted sat there stony faced or almost dozed off. If you are into cutting edge, rather experimental contemporary dance then this is for you.

Part of PACT’s ‘ Month of dance’ Natalie Abbot’s PHYSICAL FRACTALS originally premiered at the 2012 NEXT WAVE Festival. Abbott is based in Melbourne and this is the first time Sydney has been able to see her work.

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Ecstatic cheers for this blink and you miss it return season of THE LAND OF YES, THE LAND OF NO at the Parramatta Riverside Theatre.

A plotless, abstract work, the idea behind the production is, according to Bonachela’s program notes, exploring the use of signs and how we navigate in our world. The work was originally developed in 2009 for Bonachela’s London Company and here has been expanded and reworked for a cast of ten.

Continue reading THE LAND OF YES AND THE LAND OF NO- at the Riverside