HERE AFTER is a finely woven tapestry of contemporary dance. It asks a lot of its ensemble of six dancers, who are on stage continuously for its hour length. Jennifer Horvath, Georgia Sekulla, Bree Timms, Abi Gasson and Karina Cruickshank were all accomplished and precise, with Maddie Tratt providing an additional and impressive solo.
The show however is a lot more than abstract patterns such as seems the case with much experimental dance. Various admirable elements – of lighting (Peter Rubie), sound, costume (Sally Andrews) and choreography – are tautly integrated around a cohesive sequence of life and death, bonded in an epic narrative of humanity responding to a life field beyond itself. The fluid variegated mix of innovative sometime original dance states range from the tribal and repetitive repetition of self-becoming or prostration of the start, to the ethereal operatic lyricism of the ending. The complex sound track by Paul Tinsley, consistently matched expressed emotions – even at maximum volume with human drama of “inner demons and angles” (program notes) it enhances, and does not substitute for, substance.
The assurance of the work is clearly seen in the representation of the non-human element as a square of white light, coming variously from above to centre stage, or panning across stage right (followed by transfixed gaze of dancers in a row) or split into smaller boxes that provide separate domains for individual dancers. The main white source is contrasted to a recurring blue wash on stage – which one can interpret as the human domain, even as a light thin atmosphere of life. This simple a priori image of white light is given significance through human responses – at first the inchoate spurts of becoming, or repetitive fitful prostrations; through a gamut of co-dependent individual and collective permuted drama; to the thin, purity of gestures rising and falling under the diaphanous influence of that which is beyond, which has always been sought in life and creation and death. By the end, one forgets you are in a theatre- the dance is transcending, you are immersed and one with the performers, as a theatrical epiphany unfolds.
Mitchell Turnbull conceived and directed this show (with choreography shared with the ensemble). Both the director and the show deserve a wider audience and recognition. Some of the visual and lighting effects seen in program photographs could well be added. However it is in the conception that the full scale and achievement of the work and its elements is realised. This is a very special indeed original journey into spiritual drama, made authentic and convincing as realised on stage. The show has purpose, and substance, and truth. It is a masterpiece of modern dance.
HERE AFTER, a Limitless Dance Company production, was performed at the NIDA Theatre on Friday 3rd and Saturday 4th May, 2019.