[2011079] Teahouse


Unkempt Dance Collective and Erin Fowler @ Nexus Cabaret

12:00pm, Tue 1 Mar 2011

After yesterday’s dance debacle, I would’ve given myself a pass if I’d opted to skip this matinée… but I’ve also discovered some gems when fronting up for more pain in the past, so I thought I’d give Teahouse the benefit of the doubt.

I’m so glad I did, because Teahouse was a wonderfully refreshing pair of dance pieces.

The first piece, Tea For Three by Perth’s Unkempt Dance Collective, started out with the three Unkempt dancers exercising extreme precision in their movements. Actually, “precision” is far too loose a word… every action carried with it a fussiness, a sense of finicky ceremony. Their focus was intense, broken only by a tea-break… whereupon expectations are reset, and they’re wearing teacups on their feet and skidding across the stage. It somehow manages to become an incredibly varied piece, yet feels sparse… but is all the better for it.

Adelaidean Erin Fowler directed the second piece, Keeping Up With The Joneses. This dance also managed to span a wide range of tones, starting with gigglingly familiar Barbie-doll housewife stereotypes (indeed, one performer even acted as a doll for the other two to pose), and moving onto an exercise in mimicry as the performers copied each others’ stereotyped responses, in what could only be described as physical chinese whispers. The laughs peter out in favour of a sensuous hush, however, as the dancers strip down to their underwear; there’s a tangible sense of restraint as you feel these housewive characters attempt to cut loose, before returning to the frilly aprons and plastic smiles from whence they came.

The sound design throughout both pieces was superb, sourcing pop and classical and ambient pieces, with a reading of George Orwell’s A Nice Cup of Tea thrown in for good measure. But the quality of the dance still managed to steal the spotlight, with all six dancers showing gorgeous poise and control within some wonderfully choreographed works.

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