[2015119] Excavate

[2015119] Excavate

Gareth Hart @ The Edments Building

7:00pm, Fri 6 Mar 2015

I’ve really enjoyed Gareth Hart’s dance performances in the past; Ellipsis was a remarkably inventive collision of movement and staging, and Symphony of Strange continued those trends with a journey through a found space that titillated all the senses. Excavate appears to pursue those ideas once again, with Hart performing another course of precision movement with unique staging.

After the small (but still sell-out) audience met at the corner of Gawler & Fisher Place, we’re guided through the elevator to the rooftop of the old Edments building. There, we’re instructed to remove our shoes – a bit of a pain in the arse if you’re a toe-shoes guy like myself – and walk upon a narrow path of dirt into the middle of the rooftop, where we were to stand, earth beneath out feet.

Hart lay prostrate on a mound of dirt near the edge of the rooftop; behind him, a row of blue panels, and behind them, a view of the city skyline into the Adelaide Hills. Between Hart’s mound and the path on which the audience stood, a few carefully-positioned mounds supported some small tablets. These synchronised tablets played Edward Willoughby’s (excellent) electronic score, and provide some visual accompaniment that was hard to discern in the evening light.

Hart’s movements were not atypical of his previous performances: there’s a lot of precision involved, both in finicky small movements and larger sweeps (catching and spreading the dirt), and I sensed that there may be some significance to his motions… but, unlike his previous works, I didn’t really feel it. Brief moments where he wallowed in the dirt made me smile, but otherwise… I felt distant from the work.

I didn’t really get on with Excavate – I couldn’t find a central thread on which to organise my perception of the rest of the performance. As a result, the language of the dance felt foreign, incoherent, and inaccessible to me… which I found a little disappointing, given my love of Hart’s earlier works. But that dirt sure felt nice underfoot.

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