Nobody hears the axe fall
Circa Two, Circa Theatre, 1 Taranaki St, Waterfront, Wellington
05/03/2019 - 10/03/2019
Nobody Hears the Axe Fall
Created especially for Fringe, ChoreoCo by Footnote is a short-term company of remarkable dance artists. In 2019, the energy of a brand-new ChoreoCo combines with long-time collaborators Julia Harvie and Stuart Lloyd-Harris to create Nobody Hears the Axe Fall.
An unruly collection of imagery escapes from Nobody Hears the Axe Fall. Through pattern and rhythm, this fresh new work chews on the complexities of life and spits out a live soundscape for all the senses. Performed by this year’s outstanding ChoreoCo dancers, Nobody Hears the Axe Fall is an immersive cinematic experience.
A striking collision of movement and sound.
‘The cast show no mercy. They are all equally mesmerising in their performance.’ – Donna Banicevich-Gera on ChoreoCo 2018
5 – 10 March
Tues – Sat 7.30pm
$16 – $22
Runtime: 55 minutes (no interval). Please note: this show contains nudity.
Technical operator/Stage Manager: Tony Black
Set construction: John Hodgkins
Performance installation , Multi-discipline , Dance , Contemporary dance ,
Not an easy watch
Review by Brigitte Knight 08th Mar 2019
But first; a little background. Initiated by Footnote New Zealand Dance in 2014, ChoreoCo. is a small group of dancers contracted for a short term independently of the main company. The dancers, choreographers and choreographic impetus are drawn from the annual ChoreoLab three-week development workshop series held in Wellington each summer. The 2019 ChoreoCo. season has been produced exclusively for the Wellington NZ Fringe Festival (aka NZ Fringe or Fringe) and is one of just two dance-focussed works in the programme. ChoreoCo.’s work, created by Julia Harvie and Stuart Lloyd-Harris and entitled Nobody Hears the Axe Fall, is self-described as unruly, fresh and chewing on the complexities of life.
With a foreboding title and a place in the Fringe Festival, Nobody Hears the Axe Fall promises to be experimental and explorative, but not an easy watch. The performance opens with drawing darkness as microphoned dancers shout choral noises from amongst the audience. Alongside a discordant rumbling in the soundscape, these moments are the darkest in the show. Visual imagery is mildly uncomfortable at times, however, if the essence of the work is realisation of trauma there is room for accelerated risk-taking.
A threaded collection of vignettes, Nobody Hears the Axe Fall utilises colour, sound, and texture to create visual motifs within a collective of abstracted ideas. The work is self-assured in its repetition; water, breath, pages, wind, clothing, nudity, voice deliver a vocabulary if not a sense of meaning. While a number of the elements in Nobody Hears the Axe Fall are not especially original (semi-naked woman in a pool of water, rumpled pages of a book, rustling silver fabric, contact-improvisation-derived movement), their contribution to the overall soundscape in the small venue is complementary.
The strongest section of Nobody Hears the Axe Fall is an engaging solo by Oliver Carruthers, utilising his delightful ability to distort and manipulate the very proportions of his body in seamless and fluid optical transgressions. At times Carruthers’ extension lacks its full reach and focus, perhaps due in part to the limited stage space. Dancers’ entrances, exits and partnering are effective and assured, and a jumping section for all five dancers plays thoughtfully with rhythm. Other sections of Nobody Hears the Axe Fall feel overly long or slow, and create a sense of lost momentum rather than restful intrigue.
Nobody Hears the Axe Fall moves the dancers in and out of varying stages of undress, and while the four women appear full frontal, Carruthers does not. When evaluating the naked body as a trope of contemporary dance/performance, it can be useful to explore whether nudity contributes something to the work that nude-illusion underwear cannot. Sometimes it is used simply as a means to be ‘edgy’ or ‘shocking’. Does presenting five young, lean, white, able-bodied people naked shock the audience and challenge the status quo in 2019? Or serve to reinforce it?
Nobody Hears the Axe Fall wraps up with a visually and auditorily striking finale; five naked dancers walking towards an industrial fan, caught up in lengths of silver fabric, haze increasing, darkness returning.
As a side note, I was disappointed that the programme for Nobody Hears the Axe Fall gives no information about the ChoreoCo. dancers other than listing their names, and that costume design is uncredited.
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