SOPHISTICATED, TIMELESS AND INTERNATIONAL IN SCOPE
Tempo Dance Festival 2012 | Time Dance and Soma Songs | Daniel Belton and Good Company Arts
Q Theatre, 305 Queen St, Auckland, 17 Oct 2012 | Reviewed by Jennifer Nikolai, 18 Oct 2012
Two pieces intricately layered with parallel through-lines, gave audiences an extraordinary experience that left us wanting more. Good Company Arts, Stroma and collaborators have a history of producing numerous award-winning projects making dance theatre works and art films on the subject of human movement.
Seeing both for the first time, the experience of the new work Time Dance was contextualized by SOMA SONGS, clearly an initial investigation into concepts that Time Dance explored further, but with a life of its own. As stated in the programme- yes, it IS “a testimony to the creative team behind SOMA SONGS that 7 years after it's first release, this unique project is gaining new interest on the international stage.”
In both works we experience a playful study of human movement and our relationship to our origins, to nature and more dominantly to the history of 20th and 21st century technologies in motion capture, photography and cinematography.
Time Dance is sophisticated and equally accessible, timeless and international in scope. It resonates as a reference to the conception of moving image, to the pioneers of modern dance, to the algebraic systems surrounding human movement. In relationship to these large systems, Time Dance pays attention to detail, through smaller studies repeated, augmented and transformed. Such attention to detail is refreshing, at such a high caliber.
Imagine what audiences initially experienced when they saw the first moving images on screen. We were exposed to a similar rare experience of viewing silent cinema with accompanying live musicians playing a stunning musical score. Live and pre-recorded sounds intertwined, as did musicians, dancers and conductors, alternating roles.
The marriage between human movement studies and the dancing subject has a long history, to which Time Dance has now substantially contributed. For those of us who see dance as an ideal form to investigate moving image technologies and time; this work gives weight to dance as the form that integrates the human figure and our more timeless relationship to geometry, geography, our journey, our planet and the passage of time.
The live and digital dancer make these studies more than a possibility, they become poetry in this work. The dance composition and performance of movement vocabulary linked thoughtfully, accurately, beautifully to the history of modern dance, human movement studies and studies in light. Dance and the moving image create a language that gives each of these subjects respect and consideration.
Time is manipulated, altered and manufactured through the duration of the performance experience. The pace at which these collaborative artists have determined the length and subject matter within the arc of the larger work as a whole, is so satisfying. Each of the seven studies is developed with individual nuances that allow viewers to be entertained investigators, a delightful combination in such a proposed study.
The moment where we get a close-up of the dancers in their duet, we get lost in who they are, how they move and their larger relationship to space. We see them, we want to see more, we get to see just enough, and we move on.
This element of tease and surprise returns again when we finally get to see a live performer enter the performance space, as she looks at herself, projected. Her presence is enormous, she occupies all of the space and yet she moves minimally in this live space, in dialog with herself and the environment. Geometry, geography, duration all meet in this moment. As the piece climaxes and then concludes, the experience of the work seems to have occurred so rapidly, with such satisfaction. Collaborators appear for a curtain call, there is a short interval and then we get more!
SOMA SONGS was a delightful accompaniment to Time Dance in its more playful manner, showing first attempts to explore space with stone. Again, investigating human relationship to materials in search of stories of architecture, the delightful play with scale as space and sound, was made even more playful with puzzles, landscape and echoes of initial studies in human movement with male subjects.. Experimentation with light parallel to geographic stratification again references time and the relationships between human-made and natural forms.
The live VJ and live audio processing performances were just as fascinating to watch as visual and sound cues rapidly moved again, so quickly through this work; a stunning accompaniment to Time Dance.
The relationships between SOMA SONGS and Time Dance make for a beautiful programme. Performances on screen and stage were equally stunning, giving full support to this intricate conceptual web that Belton and his numerous highly acclaimed collaborators have designed.
These works are internationally transferrable, timeless, accessible and sophisticated. Thank you for a stunning collaboration, may we see more. We want more.