Mixed Rep
Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet @ Festival Theatre
8:00pm, Sun 8 Mar 2015
So… Cedar Lake again. Twice in one day. I honestly can’t remember whether that was a deliberate ploy, or whether I was just trying to take advantage of any matinée I could get my hands on… but you know what?
It totally worked.
With my appetite well-and-truly whetted by the amazing Orbo Novo, I returned to the Festival Theatre in a positively excited state. There was a moment of consternation upon entry – the running sheet posted in the theatre foyer threw an additional forty minutes of interval into the evening’s schedule, so a daringly-scheduled show later in the evening was dropped – but, once my seat was taken and the lights were dropped, all was forgiven.
The first of Mixed Rep‘s three distinct pieces, Jiří Kylián’s Indigo Rose, was a fascinating half-hour of spotlit duets and solo pieces split into multiple sections, each with their own emotional weight. The lighting (and colourful, flowing costumes) produced a stunning bit of shadow-dancing on the triangular white cloth that was suspended across the stage… and I started thinking that it was my birthday a day early. I love me some shadow-play, and Indigo Rose‘s playful (and occasionally saucy) exuberance totally worked for me.
An interval gave me a chance to reflect before Crystal Pite’s Ten Duets On A Theme Of Rescue, which – despite being half the length of the previous piece – was no less significant. A series of sensual duets, subdued sodium lighting heightened the emotion emanating from the stage. Some of the duets featured such focus from the dancers that it almost felt voyeuristic watching them move together: there was an almost too much intimacy, but it resulted in some of the most moving pieces of the evening: the moments when the score dropped away, allowing us to hear the breaths and steps from the stage were just beautiful.
Finally came Hofesh Shechter’s Violet Kid… and if the Pite’s work was stewed in the intimacy of two people, this piece was loud and bold and terrifying. A caustic industrial score (absolutely my cup of tea) drove waves of movement that began as a tribal war dance before veering – via an onstage execution – into more complex group dances. The combination of the harsh noises and wildly erratic – yet tightly controlled – movements somehow made me feel a bit unsettled. A little scared. A lot excited. Despite the political overtones in the work (and score), Violet Kid felt like a barely restrained wild animal; it was absolutely compelling.
Some friends (and enemies) are well aware that I don’t give standing ovations lightly; Mixed Rep deserved the accolade on the strength of Violet Kid alone, and the other two pieces weren’t far from that astonishing quality. But it broke my heart to see the news that Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet was closing down less than a fortnight after this amazing piece, because I remember leaving the Festival Theatre wanting to share Cedar Lake’s balletic brilliance with everyone I’ve ever met.
— Pete Muller (@festivalfreakAU) March 8, 2015