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Review 1, 3-23: In the 'Aether'
Guerin Mixes, with Mixed Results
Copyright 2005 Chloe Smethurst
MELBOURNE -- Lucy Guerin's
new "Aether," seen March 15, is divided into two sections. The first
is a multimedia exploration into modern forms of communication,
while the second focuses on human interaction. The North Melbourne
Town Hall provides the audience with an intimate view of the action,
and is well utilized by set designer Keith Tucker.
Collaborating with motion
graphic designer Michaela French, Guerin has developed a complex
opening sequence which accurately reflects the communications we're
bombarded with every day. The five dancers are employed as emotionless
bytes of information, buzzing about the stage, randomly connecting
and disconnecting. They are gradually overwhelmed by French's fabulous
visual concoction, an animated tableau of formulas, rehearsal notes,
images, digits and other miscellaneous information.
While Guerin works with
very inorganic concepts, the overall effect of this section resembles
the internal workings of a sophisticated organism -- perhaps how
the Internet might look if you could encapsulate its millions of
connections into one image.
Guerin's movement language
here combines small, freakish mannerisms with larger, spiraling
rotations in the joints. Her trademark, ballet-like stiffness of
the spine and knees can be seen in some of the travelling phrases,
but the majority of the action is comprised of compulsive twitches
and inhuman gestures.
The opening image of
Kirstie McCracken sitting upright as her disembodied, creepy, scrambling
fingers explore her body perfectly sets the scene. McCracken's hands
occasionally pause, as though to extract something from the rest
of her, and then scuttle, Matrix-like, on to the next juncture.
The score, created by
Gerald Mair, is also heavily based on the theme of communications.
Including modem blips, tapping keys, screeching faxes and distorted
conversations, it is atmospheric without being didactic.
The only fault with
this section is that it is impossible to absorb all of the overlapping
elements in one sitting, which was no doubt one of the choreographer's
The second half of the
performance is very different, set at a much slower pace. Stripping
away the complex choreography and digital animation, Guerin instead
focuses on a series of physical theater-type duets with non-lingual
mutterings and sound-effects created by the dancers, looking at
the ways we relate to and interact with each other.
One of the main features
of this part is an extended physical conversation between Byron
Perry and Antony Hamilton, two of the most respected male contemporary
dancers in Australia. Their bizarre facial expressions, gestures
and claymation-like utterings are humorous, but not particularly
sophisticated or innovative.
There are some excellent
moments, mainly due to the excellent performance skills of the dancers,
but the majority of this section was overly drawn out and poorly
directed, looking a bit too much like a drama-class exercise.
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