[20040051] Held


Australian Dance Theatre @ Her Majesty’s Theatre

1:00pm, Tue 2 Mar 2004

Score: 9

Short Review: Snapshots of Art

This was the second preview of the ADT’s collaborative piece with photographer Lois Greenfield, and it was announced that the sets “were not yet finished”. However, talking to various people who have seen the non-preview performances, it appears that not much changed from the bare stage and elongated screens that constituted the set.

Essentially, Held is a study of time and motion. Lois Greenfield takes to the stage with a digital camera, and remains static while the performers from the ADT perform for her – lots of jumps, spins, air – always aiming for the spectacular in 1/2000th second grabs. The photos she takes are projected onto the screens after a short delay; displayed in black & white, all the shots have a classic timeless feel to them – we are witnessing art in the making.

The snapshots also demonstrate the tight choreography of the piece, and are utterly compelling. It gets to the stage that you’ve got to remind yourself that there is live dance occuring at the same time, so addictive is the act of watching the screens. Conversely, when watching the live dance, it can conjure odd feelings of “why didn’t she take a photo then?” A most odd experience.

The camera doesn’t always drive proceedings, though – the screens are often rotated to act as shadow backdrops. There was a wonderful piece of dance accompanied by strobe lighting – forcing the audience to interpret the dance in their mind’s eye using short flashes of visuals to guide them – almost the antithesis of the Greenfield’s camera.

There’s also a variety of dance influences, too – “The National Anthem” from Radiohead is accompanied by some stylised pogo-ing (resulting in some great photos), followed by an exaggerated waltz and some synchronised team voguing. At other times, Larissa McGowan was elaborately dancing in heels(!); another notable piece had most of the ensemble standing and facing the audience, while a lone performer danced like an absolute loon (in a good way!) behind them. Striking!

Throughout, the music is distinctly industrial in nature – pounding rhythms, ambient noisescapes, grubby drum’n’bass. But it works to actively drive the excitement of the piece; and this is one of the most exciting pieces of dance I’ve seen in a long, long time. It’s hard to explain the impact of the camera to the piece; but it leads to some extraordinary visuals.

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