Medico Manoeuvres II
Leigh Warren & Dancers @ Flinders Medical Centre
12:30pm, Wed 11 Mar 2009
It’s a warm day, and a sleepy bus ride out to Flinders Medical Centre. Lovely views of my beloved city, though – I’d forgotten what a lovely trek this can be.
And so now I sit in the Central Courtyard; there’s a well-organised sausage sizzle going on, patients and staff and building contractors replete in their fluoro yellow safety gear sitting in the leafy split-level environment that’s wodged in the centre of FMC. And it’s a sizeable crowd that’s building up, too; I like to imagine that some of the scowls I saw were those of regular Courtyard users angry at the johnny-com-latelys invading their space.
Heather Frahn wanders out to a spot remarkable for its sightlines. She’s playing a bağlama, a Middle Eastern plucked string instrument, and occasionally sings a few notes in very Persian tones, though the music seems almost modern classical. From out of the assembled throng emerge a half-dozen of the Leigh Warren dancers: lithe, good-looking youngsters who then roam the Courtyard environment, using the space and fixtures as part of their movement.
And initially, it feels quirky and joyous; their movement is airy and light, and the dance appears structured in such a way that there are tightly choreographed bits where the dancers congregate and work with each other, before scattering around the Courtyard for something a little more free-form, before coming together again.
But after a quarter-hour or so, I’m becoming bored. “Light and airy” is being replaced by “obnoxiously twee”, and I notice that they’re not really making the most of the afforded space – rarely venturing to the raised levels. Whether that’s because of an expectation of lower crowd numbers or not, I don’t know, but it seems a shame.
And, by the end of the piece, I’ve come to the conclusion that I just don’t like the choreography at all. It’s far from dull, but it just feels toothless.
The only other Leigh Warren-related piece of work I’ve seen was 2008’s Seven, which also left me largely unimpressed. That’s not to say there weren’t distinct highlights today: Frahn’s vocal and musical contributions were superb, the Courtyard itself was a great venue, and the weather was lovely. And the fact that LWD have a residency at FMC – tales of dancers cavorting through corridors and around settled patients abound – is a curiosity that brings a smile to my face… “Proudly presented by the Arts in Health program at Flinders Medical Centre, Medico Manoeuvres 2 continues the company’s exploration of dance as a catalyst for healing and well-being” is the company line.
It’s just a massive shame that I didn’t like the dance.