Coastlands Productions @ Love Adelaide
12:00pm, Mon 28 Feb 2011
Love Adelaide? Where’s that, then? …oh. The old Le Rox.
A midday show almost guarantees the presence of a school group; and this one is no exception. That’s no big deal, though – Twine is presented from a very wide stage, allowing plenty of decent viewing opportunities, and the school group appeared to be a class of dance students who are actually interested in the performance. But as I took my seat, I was somewhat taken aback – was that Christian rock on the PA while we wait? The eight (or was it seven?) performers were certainly getting right into it as they prepped for the performance, separated from the audience by only a couple of thin screens.
As soon as the performance started, it was obvious that the title of the piece was absolutely appropriate. Black-clad dancers, in pairs or trios, were connected by (what appeared to be) thick white bands of elastic; presumably this was intended to represent the interplay between people… their relationships. And I’m fine with that – it’s a reasonable idea, and the white-on-black certainly makes it visually compelling.
The problem is that it appeared the performers would get tangled up in – or at least impeded by – the Twine. Piece after piece, the girls would move with direction and focus… until an ankle, or a wrist, got caught by the strands between them. Which makes the metaphor work even better, by my reckoning, but makes for some sloppy dance. Their final piece had me hoping that their tangled web of connections (with all dancers onstage, ankles tied to another’s wrist or waist) would arrange to create something cool – that some kind of symbolism would arise out of all this Twine. Alas, this was not to be; all that eventuated was something approximating a knot.
Unfortunately, my perception of Twine suffered from the same malady that afflicts a lot of contemporary dance: when there’s more than two dancers onstage, I get deeply suspicious if there doesn’t seem to be something collaborative in their movements. It’s not that I’m seeking synchrony… but what I do want to at least sense is an awareness – of each other, of their collective purpose. And I really didn’t get that from Twine at all; in fact, there was one dancer in the group whose gaze was firmly fixed – targeted, almost – front-and-centre, like there was a talent scout in the audience that she was keeping secret from the others.
That kind of individualism really breaks an ensemble work for me – and, given the purported “importance of being threaded together” that was mentioned in the blurb, it seems doubly disappointing here. At the end of the day, the only thing connecting these dancers – impeding their progress at times – was the Twine itself. Now there is some symbolism.