This magnificent double bill will leave you breathless and stunned with awe at the superb performances. The brilliant Sydney Dance dancers excel themselves and are in top form.
Opening the program was Gabrielle Nankivell’s Wildebeest, first seen in 2014 as part of New Breed.
Nankivell is based in South Australia. Darkly hypnotic and haunting, Wildebeest seeks to explore the hidden ‘beast’ of the dancers. The dancers reveal various aspects of the beast – at times they are like Ents in the forest , or a startled feral creature. Sometimes they all run herd-like.
A lone beast is fragmented and altered each time it makes contact with a nearby group. Nankivell’s choreography is very demanding and athletic. It is also very detailed with assorted avian and creature-like details. They fly, they strut, they explore their surroundings and nervously sniff the air …Some of the slick ensemble choreography is machine like, or like clogs interlocking, as the dancers trace the evolution from animal to human to machine/robot and even beyond.
Bernhard Knauer has a compelling opening solo looming out of the darkness – is he a just born creature finding his feet? – at times he is like a controlled puppet, other times he is explosively exploring space.
Cass Mortimer Eipper intently prowled and sinuously coiled and stretched like a large cat and Charmene Yap also had a tantalizing solo. There is a terrific duo from Holly Doyle and Todd Sutherland . And Janessa Dufty has an intense , gripping Shaman like closing solo.
Luke Smiles’ electronic soundscape is extremely powerful, pulsating and humming. The unisex costumes by Fiona Holley of shorts and tops were in various autumn shades and dark colours.
The second work was Bonachela’s Anima. Dazzling abstract dance, Bonachela’s work attempts to explore the boundary between form and spirit, expressed through the way the dancers utilize their extraordinary elevation and almost fly. Bonachela’s choreography is at times extremely demanding and athletic.
London based, Bulgarian born Dobrinka Tabakova’s elegant ,passionate and haunting score ( Insight for Strings trio , written 2002) was in parts driving and relentless, in other sections heartbreakingly elegiac and lyrical (hints of Tavener’s Protecting Veil). Aleisa Jelbart’s costumes looked like light sleepwear, and a couple of the men were topless. There was no set as such, rather breathtaking lighting and visuals by Clemens Habicht and Benjamin Cisterne whose lighting design glows and luminously transforms the dancers, drenching them in colour – including blinding whites, searing reds and zippy turquoises.
Slinky sculptural pas de-deux blend to astonishing trios with unusual lifts. Bonachela’s choreography demands soft feline jumps combined with long, stretched line as the dancers dart and leap. A highlight would have to be the extended tender and intimate pas de deux for Cass Mortimer Eipper and Petros Treklis with its aspects of male competition and tension, attempts to reach out and withdraw, elegantly detailed hands and an idiosyncratic use of elbows expressing physical longing and desire. Juliette Barton and Sam Young Wright followed this with another mesmerizing duo and the ensemble returned for a leaping finale.
The Sydney Dance Company’s production of UNTAMED is playing at the Roslyn Packer theatre until October 29. Running time 1 hr 45 minutes including one interval.