Rosalie O’Connor photo

Dance Victoria’s season opener with Aspen Santa Fe Ballet’s triple bill shines with ‘tender soundscape, and simple yet potent choreography’

by Monique Salez

Last night Dance Victoria opened up their season with renowned American dance company Aspen Santa Fe Ballet’s mixed program of three works by three distinct choreographers – one Finnish and two Spaniards. As a mixed program, it worked well as each piece provided a welcome tonic to refresh and flex the emotional pallet.

The opener, Jorma Elo’s 1st Flash, a strings heavy concerto was frenetic, high speed, dense choreography that engaged the dancer to their fingertips. Silly, surprising and highly energetic the duets shone yet a few times soloists seemed eclipsed by the largess of the music. Not however Joseph Watson who was a standout performer with the ability to execute the high speed technical aspects of the choreography while appearing relaxed and fully surrendering into the delicious moments of release.

1st Flash was effectively bookended by Huma Roja, the final piece of the show – a saucy and playful red pyjama’d cherry on top by Cayetano Soto. Light, rhythmic, funny, the piece opens with a voice sharing assertions on the ego and self-confidence. There was laughter and hips yet I felt the choreography was geared toward the male body, a male expression of ego (crotch grab included) and would have been better served with an all-male cast.

At the center of this triad was the quiet jewel. It opened with the ubiquitous low lighting of contemporary light design and at the outset this viewer felt a hint of “not again”. This however quickly dissolved as it became abundantly clear that Alejandro Cerrudo’s Silent Ghost was a meditation in intimacy, a quiet look inside. Exquisite floor work (it would be a treat to see it from above) tender soundscape, and simple yet potent choreography permeated the space. Filmic in its quality of human relational storytelling, two separate duets punctuated the presentation. A cross lit female dancer lying prone ungulates, inchworm-like, and is joined by another female dancer who climbs over top of her and their evocative and supple conversation in movement begins. The piece closes with a male/female duet that gently takes you by the hand to the dark sweet depths of the well of intimacy. A delicate space that hints to a remembering of what once was or what can be or what has been forgotten – that a simple standing and facing, a being seen, being met and having ones’ wings gently lifted is the true gift of communion.

Let me preface by asserting that as I undertake this role of responding to, critiquing or reviewing dance it is essential to state that I will always deeply appreciate the physical and personal rigor required to be a professional dancer regardless of whether the piece moves me. However for this writer and lover of dance it will always be the emotional component that truly defines a memorable piece. It is for myself the combination of world class technique and emotional connection that allows me to forget where I am and enter deeply into the moment, the music, the movement, to transcend the daily and allow meaning, humanity, beauty, pathos, humour to penetrate my heart and invite me to explore its borders, to elevate my spirit, to query, to awaken & stay with me as I leave the theatre.

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