Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Choreography by Soo Yeun Yoo and Gina Rings
Dancehouse, Melbourne
June 2, 2011

Choreographed by two women from very different backgrounds, Reliquary combines indigenous Australian and shamanistic Korean influences to create a distinctive meditation on ancestry and spirituality.

According to Soo Yeun Yoo, the two cultures share common spiritual roots. Using dance and beautifully crafted puppets to obliquely visit these intersections, Yoo and co-creator Gina Rings have produced a sacred space, shrouded in mist, where ceremonies are practiced and spirits enter the physical realm.

The dancers, three women of Asian descent and two indigenous Australian men, perform movement which ranges from traditional forms to modern abstraction and a blended, contemporary style. Former Bangarra dancer Albert David grounds the piece with his mature presence and earthy grace, while Lilian Grace Steiner and Eric William Avery shine in a powerful sequence of rippling, trance-like moves.

Whether hunting with spear and boomerang, or communing with a white tulle apparition, a heightened sense of spirituality remains. The two beautiful puppets, one with white mask and costume, the other an indigenous woman in colonial dress, appear as ancestral guides, gently nudging the performers. At one point, the masked puppet walks forward on the legs of a dancer, melding human and spiritual forms.

The sound, by Philippe Pasquier, is an evocative and sophisticated blend of natural, electronic and human noise, from breathy beats to didgeridoo, bushland chirping to mellow song.

Reliquary is rich in atmosphere, with strong contributions from the collaborating artists. While there are clunky moments in the choreography, particularly in the more contemporary sections, it’s a fascinating window into ritual dance.

A version of this review was published in The Age newspaper


  1. Wow, so amazed their styles mixed so well. This is fantastic.

  2. Their chemistry with each other is perfect.

  3. Perfect combination. I'm so amazed.