Thursday, July 8, 2010

Human Abstract

JACK Productions

Choreography by Lucas Jervies

Malthouse Theatre, Melbourne, July 7, 2010

Human Abstract
is the first performance by JACK Productions, a group of Australian Ballet dancers who have branched out from the parent company to present ‘innovative dance’. Well done to them, and to the Australian Ballet for supporting them in this experimental endeavour.

As much I would have loved to rave about the piece and herald a new era in ballet for Melbourne, there are just too many flaws in this fledgling work, choreographed by young Australian Lucas Jervies.

At times the dancing is great, as you would expect from such wonderful artists as Leanne Stojmenov, Danielle Rowe and Kevin Jackson, not to mention the founding members of JACK; Andrew Killian, Robert Curran and Laura Tong.

The ample text is eloquently spoken by international guest artist Sabina Perry, but it’s impossible to know who is the author, as there is no credit given in the program notes. [Apparently it's from Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Thankyou Mr Boyd]. And, there are the usual problems which arise when choreographers employ language– it tends to bludgeon the movement into insignificance and feels clunky next to the airy subtleties and endless possibilities for interpretation which dance can offer.

I can see where Jervies is perhaps trying to go, combining ballet technique with dance theatre elements; a sofa, a fencing mask, a bizarre aerial prop something like a giant pair of inverted stockings plonked on Perry’s head. Even a comical scene toward the end of the piece with Killian disdainfully holding a mirrorball as Perry enthusiastically mimes a soulful version of Someday (you’ll want me to want you).

But it just doesn’t gel. It’s too long and there’s no real dramatic impact. Jervies is still in the early stages of his career as a choreographer, and his inexperience is evident.

It will be fascinating to see if JACK and Jervies can continue to experiment and mature, pushing Australian ballet into new territory. They just haven’t quite reached it, yet.


  1. Most of the text was from Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.


  2. Thanks Chris, I knew that at least one high-functioning audience member would recognise the text.
    And your thoughts on the show?

  3. That lit. major comes in handy once in a while! :-) My thoughts? On the whole... the weirder it got, the better I liked it. (Finger pointing, fencing headgear and Little Red Riding Hood grunting excepted!) My review should be in Friday's Herald Sun. I liked Sabina Perry a lot!