back to Flash Reviews
Flash Review, 8-2: Chunky
Attempts at Defining a Possible Ideology of Surface
By Simone Clifford
Copyright 2000 Simone Clifford
Australia -- Chunky Move last night premiered its newest work "Hydra"
at the National Theatre St. Kilda, a glorious theatre of old-scale
proportions and perfect sight-lines. The audience was comprised
largely of under-30-year-olds, making this company a voice for the
by artistic director Gideon Orbarzanek, offered us an attempt at
defining a possible ideology of surface. Orbarzanek tells us that
this work is "concerned more with the emotional landscape than form
and structure and is loosely inspired by the Greek myth of the same
name. 'Hydra' immerses its audience in a dual world of seduction
The movement vocabulary
used gives the impression of bodies bound, somehow emotionally gagged;
restriction is of the essence here. We see that these well-trained
dancers capable both technically and dramatically offer a commitment
and integrity to the work. However, I look at style as a collision
of form with essence, which may suggest some deficit in this regard.
Yet, if an artist speaks
for an audience of his/her time, we must acknowledge the appeal
of this work to a zeitgeist (spirit of the time) with few references
to the historical development of the form.
This work, with its thoughtfully
constructed design, does make for visual impact, using water and
wetsuit-clad females as the many-headed feminine water monster writhing
in the water, splashing it about to effect with the striking lighting
design. The collaborators for "Hydra" were composers Darrin Verhagen
and James Gordon-Anderson, production designers Andrew Livingston
and Ben Cobham of Bluebottle, and costume designer Mila Faranov.
score provided the work with a soundscape that offered tension and
conflict. The soundscape is, in effect, a parameter of substance
and gravity. Cleverly melding sounds and effects such as the submarine
radar pulse that evokes humans underwater, it was nonetheless sufficiently
subtle enough for us to keep our attention on the work, with its
dramatic dialogue. The dance, clearly seen as two parts though presented
as an evening-length hour-long piece, was given a very different
musical treatment by Gordon-Anderson for its second half. Heavily
miked piano and violin played live assumed the fabric of catharsis
for the piece.
In the balletic atmosphere
of the present, an argument may be developing regarding possible
readings. Distilled, it is one between metaphor and pantomime this
work may surrender to.
We understand that Chunky
Move is Victoria's eminent contemporary dance company; funded on
both the state and federal levels, this is a full time troupe. Production
standards are always given a high priority. This, along with Orbarzanek
's choreography and strong use of direction, combined with well-trained
dancers, makes this an easy-going company to watch.
Simone Clifford is a
freelance choreographer and former dancer with Nederlands Dans Theater.
back to Flash Reviews