Sunday, June 1, 2008

The Counting/Ocular Proof

Performed by Rogue

Arts House - Meat Market, North Melbourne

May 28, 2008

Rogue are a collective of recent Victorian College of the Arts graduates. With so little work available for young dancers, this motivated group are literally making work for themselves.

Choreographed for them by Antony Hamilton, The Counting is a sharply focussed short work. The dancers begin standing in two tightly arranged lines, the four pairs each performing a different sequence, with contrasting pace and rhythm to their neighbours. It’s at once mechanical and organic, suggesting a complex internal process of the body.

A series of vignettes follows, the most convincing of which is a viscous duet danced by Harriet Ritchie and Holly Durant. Combined with the whooshing, pumping sounds of Pansonic’s accompanying music, the effect is that of blood rhythmically coursing through veins.

The group also presented their own piece, Ocular Proof, which features a brilliant multimedia design by Olaf Meyer.

Relationships, technology, reality and illusion are some of the themes that are explored, and early in the piece it seems there are too many ideas competing for attention. Happily, Meyer’s projections help to illuminate the integral concepts and the performance begins to make sense.

Doyle Barrow’s skin-toned costumes allow Meyer to project subtle images directly onto the dancers’ bodies, turning them into anonymous streams of Matrix-like dots, or layering flickering images of mannequins over their motionless forms.

The choreography is most effective when it makes use of the entire ensemble in unison. Repeated motifs, including tender moments between a love-struck couple, help to unify the disparate images.

Rogue are yet to find their own choreographic voice, relying instead on the influence of established choreographers, very much in the ‘Melbourne Style’. Nevertheless, with some disciplined editing, Ocular Proof could become a solid piece of dance theatre, a remarkable achievement for this young group.

(Originally published in The Age newspaper)

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