[20020051] Skin


Bangarra Dance Theatre

8:00pm, Thu 7 Mar 2002

Score: 6

Short Review: I don’t see it…

“Skin” is split into two acts, “Shelter” and “Spear”. Once again, there was a distinct gender seperation in the dances – female dancers only in Act One, men only in Act Two.

“Shelter”, an “abstract portrayal of traditional hunting and gathering”, opens with a good piece of dance, professionally executed, with the wonderful effect of performer-created dust clouds catching the minimal lighting. The second piece, describing a stillbirth, was… well, visual wank. Anyone who mentions words like “innovative” are just plain wrong, trust me. The final dance piece of the Act had wonderful (non-traditional) music, but the choreography did nothing with it. The Act closes out with a wonderful piece of shadow projection. Overall, I found the performances to be effective, rather than brilliant.

Act 2 – “problems facing aboriginal men” – opens with an effective portrayal of an aboriginal death in custody… which didn’t seem to have the emotional impact that it should have. The rest of the Act, which dealt with initiation ceremonies, petrol & alcohol abuse, and a cleansing ceremony, were also competent (with an interesting use of a gutted car as a central prop!), but contained some of the best dancing for the evening – several male solo pieces. (These were interesting in themselves – the Bangarra web site mentions that “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander dance is very different from most western theatre dance” – and yet these solos appeared distinctly European in nature).

At the end of this performance, there was a standing ovation from about two-thirds of the audience. I wasn’t one of them, though I was happy that the guy next to me stood – it stopped him yelling “WOOOOOOOOO” right into my tinitus ear.

I just didn’t get it. In my view, every other dance piece I’d seen in ff2002 (bar one) surpassed “Skin” in terms of interest and, well, plain aesthetic appeal (notice how I kept using the word “effective” rather than my usual superlatives?). The only real saving grace was Archie Roach appearing for a song or two, and the Act Two solos. Still, the audience can’t be wrong, can they? Well, if I was the ‘Tiser, I’d be compelled to give this show a 9 or a 10 on the basis of the audience reaction – but I’m not, I’m me, this is my review, and it didn’t really move me at all. Harrumph.

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