Australian Dance Party LESS review by Simone Penkethman
Directed by Alison Plevey
Dairy Rd, Canberra until 12 March
Australian Dance Party’s Less formed part of Canberra’s well-loved Enlighten Festival. In a semi-industrial area on Dairy Flat Road, it’s a long way both physically and conceptually from the flashy animations and noodle markets in the parliamentary triangle that we think of as Enlighten.
This site-specific dance work is named for the space in which its set. Less is a monumental architectural sculpture consisting of 36 square, concrete columns with a circular ramp and viewing platform.
Standing tall at the top of a gentle slope, quiet water flows across square, concrete levels at its base and into a newly landscaped watercourse and park below.
The crowd gathered around sunset beneath skies that had mercifully cleared after a wet week. The sculpture and park run alongside design studios and hospitality businesses and the space was active with people out on a Friday.
Some audience members sat on small stools with their feet in shallow water and others watched from the ramp.
Australian Dance Party delight in the frightening and the playful
As light faded the dancers entered the space, walking up through the watercourse in Butoh style, in stunning white and grey costumes by Aislinn King.
The Less program describes ‘a place that conjures images of ancient and future civilisations’. This opening number was like a timeless, high ritual, with water flowing around all our feet connecting us as the columns loomed behind the dancers. As natural light was fading, light and sound brought the performance into full focus.
In a swift and uplifting transition, the dance became exuberant with the sounds of splashing water and a sense of irreverent fun breaking the ritual’s spell. Other numbers evoked gaming and pop culture references, the frightening and the playful.
During the 40-minute show, the performance space was explored via dance, light, and sound. The performers showed an incredible array of dance, circus, and gymnastics skills. Every movement seemed to respond directly to the space.
A saxophonist and a vocalist preformed with the dancers, working in stunning collaboration.
Dynamic AV’s lighting was beautifully minimal, creating atmosphere and drama and never distracting from the performers.
Brutalist architecture, industrial landscapes and site-specific performance are a few of my favourite things. Ticking all these boxes and more, this show was a seamless blending of place and art.