[2010026] Heavier Than Milk

Heavier Than Milk [FringeTIX]

[one8in] Dance Collective @ Gravity Studios

8:00pm, Sat 20 Feb 2010

Hopes were high when I arrived at Gravity Studios; the Heavier Than Milk programme looked very professional, and the eight pieces to be performed were presented in the form of a menu, as a series of courses. There was a curious shot of milk available for necking at the door, then upstairs to the performance space.

The first course was already in progress as we arrived: Sarah Glover sat scribbling on the principal wall of the space, as she did for the entire performance. Ummm… OK. The first dance piece felt like a lazy start, with plenty of movement but no real feeling of intent. There was a somewhat interesting exploration of space around a large cubic frame, however, and that bode well for upcoming pieces.

It’s a pity, then, that the following piece was utterly dire. Built around horrible characters dancing literally to Thou Shalt Always Kill (a decision which feels so utterly lazy I’m reluctant to even consider it to be choreography), this piece represented the turning point for Heavier Than Milk; from here, they took the express lane to Wrongville.

Jo Naumann’s “Milkshake” won me back briefly with a quirky giddy-chicken of an opening, and a few cute moments, before being let down by an appalling ending. I mean, really… “I’ve hurt my finger”? What the fuck were they thinking?

“Two Dollars” is a stumbling mess, only partially redeemed by some smooth movements and moments of real beauty in the subsequent “She Ain’t Heavy”. Unfortunately, the movie used as background for this piece had more of a lasting impact than most of the rest of the dance. And Jay Mullan’s Dessert Course film, “Morning After, In The Middle Of Nowhere” felt like it was cut with a meat cleaver – it may have been interesting had we seen any actual dance in the movie (which featured Jade Erlandsen – who I’ve got a lot of time for after last year’s Out of the Dark). The final piece featured film, some rear-projection shadows, and had a real feeling of energy about it – and then pissed any goodwill generated by those positives away with some ill-advised talking sequences.

This was my first visit to Gravity Studios and, while the space itself is great, the options for the audience are not. The layout of seating for Heavier Than Milk had two banks of three rows each; the big problem here is that there’s no elevation, so those sitting in the non-front rows – including myself – couldn’t see a fucking thing when the dancers moved low. Which, as you might imagine, was often. The constant scribblings seemed utterly pointless, too, given the almost complete lack of involvement in the dance pieces (only one of the dance “courses” had any interaction with The Scribbler).

In short: Heavier Than Milk was a complete mess. There were one or two glimpses of something attractive there, but they were swamped by a mass of poorly-conceived, self-indulgent crapulence. To say that this was a disappointment is a massive understatement.

5 thoughts on “[2010026] Heavier Than Milk”

  1. I completely disagree. Though there were flaws to the show, some of the works showed promise. On reading some of your earlier review, you have mentioned that you don’t know dance, so i find it bizare that you would then go and slam something you know nothing about. If you bothered to read the program at all, it wasn’t a final work. they never intended it to be a final work, rather a showcase of initial stages of development. I felt the show started off slow, but but the last three were the strongest of the night. The film though sectional was only in its early stages, and i don’t think the lack of dance took away, rather added too it. If you bothered to read the text of anything that they have put in the show for that matter, (and i am making an assumption that you can read, correct me if i am wrong), but in the film alone, completely explains the narrative of what you are watching. As for the final work, i thought this was a little gem. the movement was interesting, individual, and extremely creative. Again, read what it was about. I felt that as a review, your lack of observation and research makes it pointless you passing such strong comments.

  2. Hi steve, thanks for commenting.

    You’re quite right – some of the works did show promise. And you’re also correct in that I freely claim to know nothing about dance. So what I’m left with is a very pure aesthetic response to what’s presented – and there was very little in Heavier Than Milk that engaged or excited me.

    It’s great that you liked the show – and, make no mistake, I appreciate the fact that [one8in] put the show on. But my response to it was terribly negative :}

    Oh – and I don’t like to think of these posts as “reviews”. Once upon a time I tried to take that approach, but decided that it made me feel uncomfortable writing about stuff that I (admittedly) have no technical knowledge of. So I now just write about my personal reaction to the show – be it the performance itself, or the people I meet, or just the emotional experience of the piece.

  3. hi steve,

    jay mullan here, I am not too sure what is happening already, but just thought that i would add my own little bit after i stumbled across your blog. firstly, i am glad that you have come to see a dance show, be it a positive of negative experience. I thought that i would explain my work a little. It quite clearly isn’t my best work, but i firstly had a very short schedule in order to work on it with only one rehearsal and 5 hours to film it all. It was an initial stage of development, so i wasn’t after a polished movement vocabulary, rather a visual to help translate the idea. Any movement that i wanted for this would be overtly intricate and almost mechanical. I wasn’t deluded in trying to achieve something that wasn’t possible in the time allowed. It was very cut/cut/cut, but again, i wasn’t interested in this to be a straightforward dance film. I figured if i wanted to show a straight forward dance phrase, i may as well have just done it live, which who knows, may have worked out better. The concept that i wanted to work on is a much larger idea, but with the constraints i had, i thought i would pair it down to one basic aspect to the overall work. I am sure that you probably don’t want me to go into detail of the work and break it down, and i completely get that the way i used the abstract nature of dance, and further abstracted it in the medium of film wouldn’t have helped. But i hope i have given you an insight into why my work “felt like it was cut with a meat cleaver”. If you are ever at a show that i am in, or that i am at, come up and talk if you like. It is clear you have a passion for the arts in general, and it would be cool to talk about, or send and email if you want to discuss anything further. You never know, sometimes with me it has completely changed my opinion of the work.

    Plus i completely understand where you are coming from as far as a direction or flow to the overall work is concerned. I guess that gets back to the initial organization of the work, that there was no common thread or overall concept to work from. It was a mish-mash of singular ideas that was connected together by a secondary concept. plus the original order of the works had to be changed as a couple of the dancers had to leave in order to go to rehearsals for ‘le grande macabre’. I wasn’t directly involved in original organization, rather came in later, but as far as i am concerned, each of the works were completely separate in nature and concept, so any form of homogenous flow will have always been an secondary after thought.

    Hope you enjoy the rest of the fringe and festival.

  4. Hi Jay,

    Thanks for commenting. I realise that 99% of the traffic through this humble blog is artist vanity-Googling, but it’s rare that someone posts such a long and considerate comment :)

    I take responsibility for the “cut like a meat cleaver” comment, though. I find your description above to be really interesting – that’s quite an impressive effort for such a short amount of time. Indeed, I’d love to talk to you about the work in person – if you ever see a short chubby bugger with shoulder-length bottle red hair, just yell out my name and we’ll chat :)

    Have a great Fringe & Festival, too :D

  5. This is the exact reason why contemporary dance is given such a bad rep – With absolutley NO budget what so ever, all of us choreographers in Heavier Than Milk worked our arses off to get that show up and running in 1.5 months!. We took the time out of our working days to make it work, and in return we get a narcissistic audience member with the audacity to slog the works beyond necessity!

    What is the point!!!? Its going to get artists nowhere! How about 1. give some CONSTRUCTIVE feedback – especially if you don’t have the balls to put reviews where your mouth is, 2. put your manners back in and 3. get some respect for the art industry by keeping damaging feedback to yourself and your close mates.

    Being a dancer is pretty harsh as it is, and with no job prospects we’r having to do it all ourselves. So give us a couple of years, and with our contructive feedback, we’l hopefully win you over. Not that its even worth this speel.

    Wer all in it for the same reason – LOVE OF HUMBLE EXPRESSION!

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