Rip, Drag & Ruminate
Graduating Dancers of Adelaide College of the Arts 2014 @ Adelaide College of the Arts – Main Theatre
2:00pm, Fri 14 Mar 2014
Last year’s patchy Rip Drag Ruminate show delivered enough quality (or, rather, one significant highlight) to warrant another look at what the graduating class of AC Arts were capable of. And, in contrast to last year, there didn’t seem to be as many family members present… though that may have been because of the Schedule-friendly 2pm weekday timeslot I selected. There were, however, a large number of students in the quarter-full audience, all scribbling furious notes… and talking. As I read back over my own notes (this being one of the few shows I actually wrote notes for), I discovered that they were chock full of the phrase “stop talking”. I guess I was hoping that people were peeking over my shoulder.
The first piece, Konstanz Symeonakis’ Find the Light, was an interesting exploration of the use of light and shadow. Early impressions, however, almost turned me off: blunt and unimaginative lighting created a real disconnect. But once the movement of the piece kicked in (lovely sync with the dancers), the side lighting provided a much more pleasing visual effect; the use of flashlights, whether whirling them around or visualising heartbeats, was really quite appealing.
Emma Watkins’ O & C started with an OCD contrivance that was blunt enough to annoy the OCD-ish part of me; but the general tone of the piece was quirky, evoking thoughts of daydreams and distractions. The movement of the dancers, however, lacked the dynamism to sell the quirkiness of the piece. Taylor Whitchurch’s Words, Letters, Language kicked off with dancers scribbling on a long strip of paper at the front of the space; illegible text and seemingly pointless projections were offset by some occasionally wonderful dance. When the performers engaged with each other, when they connected, their movements were really engaging; without the group focus, the choreography felt desperate and contrived.
The Vanity, by Samuel Koh, seemed dominated by the spectacle of circus-inspired acrobatic movements… but the performers were occasionally a little too shaky to pull them off convincingly. A door prop, combined with some inspired lighting, produced a wonderful visual treat… but only for a subset of the audience in the wide Main Theatre space. The final piece, Courteney Cox’s Subliminal, featured some engaging group movement (with plenty of falls & catches) that was only let down by the sharpness of the dancers, and a lack of cohesion in the overall structure of the piece.
Judging by these performances, the 2014 Graduating Class have a fair bit to be proud of: each of the five pieces featured moments of inspired choreography and solid dance. On the other hand, each piece also featured moments of frustration for the uneducated observer (i.e. me); but the fact that there were no real standout negatives within the programme is quite heartening. (And the one-sheet programme for the show? Phwoar – the texture of that paper is amazing.)
— Pete Muller (@festivalfreakAU) March 14, 2014