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Flash Review 2, 11-14: A Room for Fairy Tales
Company in Space Beguiles

By Chloe Smethurst
Copyright 2002 Chloe Smethurst

MELBOURNE -- "The Light Room," a new work by the ensemble Company in Space directed by Helen Sky, is set in what could have been the interior of an ethereal glass castle, the sort of house where dreams and fairy tales are played out. Seen October 24 at the Melbourne Museum, it was an ideal canvas for the beguiling choreographic scene set by the five performers, and illuminated by brilliant lighting and visual work.

It is as much a room of memories as it is of light, as our narrator, Margaret Cameron, gives voice to the images that pervade the space. Her rambling soliloquy seems to come from a woman recollecting disjointed fragments from her past, and as with the other elements of the performance, is abstract enough to allow room for the audience to wonder and put together their own version of the story.

A library, three French coins, a beach -- Margie Medlin's visual projections procure different worlds from the static space the performers inhabit. The glass walls, catwalk and stairs of the set turn opaque when covered with Medlin's digital landscapes, only to have the illusion broken again when a performer interrupts the vision, transferring the projection to skin.

Heightening this stimulation of the imagination and the senses are the soaring vocals of Alan Widdowson. So well integrated is his performance, Widdowson shifts effortlessly between opera and movement, interacting with and enhancing all elements of the composition with his skill.

Dancing with subtlety and consideration, Rebecca Hilton, Ros Warby and Michael Whaites explore the space as one would a childhood house revisited. In duos and solos, the dancers further encourage the imagination along paths opened by the narrator and the projected images. Whilst the choreography was engaging, due to the nature of dance it could only add to the imagery already being employed in the work, not help us to understand the text. It is both the most fascinating and the most confusing aspect of this piece that nothing is literal, nothing falls into a neat narrative line.

The dream-like castle and its inhabitants conjured in "The Light Room" were beautiful to watch, to listen to, to experience. The interweaving of art forms was quite successful, with each on an equal footing, each giving the piece its unique performance gifts. And although the work took us on a winding path, it was a most enjoyable wander.

Chloe Smethurst is a freelance contemporary dancer and teacher from Melbourne. She has worked with TasDance and Frances D'Ath's Zero Ballet since graduating from the Victorian College of the Arts in 2001. She was recently the recipient of an Emerging Artist Grant from the Australia Council for the Arts and is hoping to continue her practice into the future.

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