29/04/2023 - 30/04/2023
Choreographer: Bella Wilson
Composer: Flo Wilson
Producer: Madison Cronin
Costume Designer: Lisa McEwan | Lighting Designer: Paul Bennett | AV Designer: Yin-Chi Lee
Dance Plant Collective
STRUCTURE is Dance Plant Collective’s newest full-length contemporary dance show, choreographed by Bella Wilson in collaboration with the performers.
Performed by a stellar cast of 12 dancers to an outstanding original score by Flo Wilson, STRUCTURE exists as a metaphorical magnifying glass, highlighting the many ways in which our modern lives are controlled by external structures.
What causes us to follow the norm and what happens when we choose to deviate from this? We gaze inwards and examine the harsh rigidity of impersonal structures, and the gentleness of interpersonal connections. This show will transport you through a melancholic, yet hopeful reflection on what it means to exist in 2023.
CONCESSION 65+ with Gold Card or Student with ID $23.00
SHOW+DONATION Entry to the show plus a little extra to donate to Dance Plant Collective $35.00
Lead Dancers: Brittany Kohler, Gus Syben, Kit Reilly & Natasha Kohler
Ensemble Dancers: Abi Jones, Alexandra Lamm, Carla Harre, Deborah Fletcher, Erin Meek, Holly Finch, Jess Crompton & Joanna Cook.
Understudies: Lara Chuo, Tess Doorman-Smith, Peni Fakaua & Woody Sabanhdit.
Choreographic Mentor: Lucy Marinkovich
Contemporary dance , Dance ,
Visually beautiful and thought-provoking.
Review by Nicole Wilkie 30th Apr 2023
STRUCTURE, choreographed and directed by Bella Wilson, offers an exploration through contemporary dance of the various structures that govern our lives, and the fine line between order and chaos.
As the audience fills the theatre, the dancers are already in the space, navigating their environment and each other, giving a small taste of what is to come.
Ethereal music fills the room as the work begins. Dancers moving in their own spaces eventually come in and out of synchronous movement as a group, falling in and out of line with one another. This conjures images of a system, each dancer a piece of the whole mechanism. The dancers follow specific walking patterns, and it is obvious that these sections of walking patterns are well rehearsed and precisely timed.
These first sections of the work are composed of changing structural shapes as the ensemble presents smooth, flowing movement across the stage, the dancers gliding across the space. Any near collisions as the dancers commit to their movement pathways seem to be choreographed and add a dynamic element to the work. As I watch the dancers, imagery of both the anatomical structure of the human body and inorganic structures such as buildings come to mind, it is as if the dancers are breaking down bodies and structures to their simplest parts, then building them back up again.
The mood changes in the next sections, with a heavy bass line and dancers forming lines in space with military precision. Throughout the lines that form and dissipate, duets crop up in different areas, and there is a sense of organised chaos as the dancers partner each other – able to support and connect with one another, yet almost losing each other as the space continually shifts around them.
Squares light up on the floor and the lead cast – Brittany Kohler, Angus Syben, Kit Reilly, and Natasha Kohler – navigate them, in a similar fashion to the walking patterns displayed earlier by the entire ensemble. They walk calmly and orderly at first, eventually becoming more frantic as the squares start to disappear and reappear randomly. The accompanying sound of constant rhythmic drumming feels as though it gets louder and gradually faster, driving a sense of urgency as the section continues. It feels as though if one of the dancers is to fall, the rest will fall with them.
One of the most striking visual images comes as Brittany Kohler walks along a path made of newspaper laid down by the other fellow dancers, who cover her in the paper as she makes her way across the stage, eventually resting on the floor completely covered.
There is a shift in the energy and we see a sense of care and compassion in the dancer’s interactions, as they work together as an entire group to perform a series of lifts that rise and fall organically, moving dancers across the stage.
The duet between Brittany Kohler and Angus Syben is a particular highlight, as we see them navigate a delicate structural relationship with one another. It is as if they are separate yet entwined entities, and the movements of one affect the structural integrity of the other. The movement is at times robotic, yet incredibly intricate. Another moment of note is the duet between Syben and Kit Reilly – strong and flowing, lifting each other and traversing the spaces together effortlessly.
The energy rises as we near the end of the work with a fast-paced group section, characterised by the same sense of precision and movement in space, yet adding a sense of vitality and aliveness to the work. It is a fitting end to the work that fades out on spinning dancers, leaving us with a sense of hopefulness.
This work, with its arresting imagery, is satisfying to watch, as the dancers form systems, fragment, and come together again. The work is simultaneously visually beautiful and thought-provoking, a wonderful new offering from talented local artists.
Copyright © in the review belongs to the reviewer
Surfacing out of catastrophe and change.
A monochromatic start to Dance Plant Collective’s three-years brewing, sets the light palette designed by Paul Bennett for an evening of post-pandemic reflection. Not of the pandemic and its health distraught-ness but more so, it seems, embryonic meanings derived from surfacing out of catastrophe and change. STRUCTURE, in a world dancers create, is edgy, dynamic and well worth watching, and supporting. Music, composed by Flo Wilson, is powerful and rhythmic.
While the audience arrives and seats themselves, choreographer Bella Wilson and her collaborators probe vague and self-conscious movement. I am reminded by the occasional glance of dancers to people, of the way the proscenium transports us into their abstract world, a void, not yet ours. This structural introduction to a complex essay about disorder, melancholy and regeneration potential, requires a settling yet gives rise to a confusion in the gamut sequencing of vignettes.
A delicate robotic duet towards the end of the work danced by Brittany Kohler and Angus Syben and delicately caring lifting between the cast, seem at odds with revealing connection within de-structure. Rampant and repetitive action of the ensemble midway, breaking from parallel to diagonal and circles, is perhaps the most successful juxtaposition to subtler themes between chaos and relationship. In terms of choreographic repertoire, the precise creativity of these movements bely comprehension derived from nervousness, of militaristic walking around. The import of each of these descriptive insights is muddled by the maintenance of clever passings on and off stage.
It is so refreshing to see a stage full of dancing bodies, that I am taken off course in my mulling. Technique and unison work is only sometimes dissonant with the movement’s communicative requirement. Abi Jones, Alexandra Lamm, Carla Harré, Deborah Fletcher, Erin Meek, Holly Finch, Jess Crompton, Joanna Cook, Lara Chuo, Natthavout (Woody) Sabanhdit, Peni Fakaua, and Tess Doorman-Smith dance as equal to the expressive commitment of the lead dancers. Occasional solos, and duets, oddly barricades to maintaining choreographic abstraction, create a vista of dance hierarchy: vagaries from another lens.
There are two other powerful vignettes: a deconstruction of pacing within a set of light squares and obligatory breath laden voices, where squares are randomly removed that disrupt the partial nature of the dancers’ order, and the newspapers section. A dancer becomes covered (overwhelmed?) by the news. What is more significant as the symbolic, is how newspaper becomes artefact and the paper, recycling rubbish.
The order of dancing within the whole gives expression to chaos sensitively restored as a whole, rather than the satisfying but less obvious sensibility of relational certainty to be found in the ephemerality of engagement. STRUCTURE in its versatile exploration will benefit from longer seasons, and increased rehearsal developments. It is particularly precious for its thoughtful feedback into an endlessly fascinating contemporary dance form. As there are sophisticated minds at work, I was not looking for a happy ending as completion.
Copyright © in the review belongs to the reviewer