TERRARIUM-A Dance Piece

terrarium2Terrarium

All art is subjective. This is a major part of both its beauty and its appeal and also the cause of many disagreements. Art has the capability of bringing us together as well as dividing us..

Everyone has their own personal different prism of experience and thus filters through their individual lenses.

I like it.
I don’t like it.
It becomes very polarised as too many things in today’s society are.

Where is the grey?
It exists, people.

Can we escape our limiting and limited understanding?
How open are we able to be?
How do we deal with the various challenges of life?

Israeli born dancer and choreographer Omer Backley-Astrachan creates Terrarium, a contemporary dance piece with collaborators and dancers:
Allie Graham, Jess Goodfellow, Renata Commisso, Sharon Backley-Astrachan.

It is described as “A series of short stories, each delves into a different aspect of life, love and death.”

53201048_10161839742605085_2153687470561034240_o

Contemporary dance is the perfect example of subjectivity in action as there is rarely dialogue and the audience has to translate what we see and hear in this expression of dance. It can be seen as an insight into the human condition but equally it could be some flexible dancers making a series of random shapes.

I am by no means an expert but I have seen many dance shows over the years and contemporary dance seems to be the most dividing.
Audiences in general usually want a nice bow to tie it off and put it into a context that is easily understood. It is easy to be perceived as pretentious or failing.

This is not the case with Terrarium.
It is a piece that evokes thought and has moments of wonder and emotion.
What I love about this world is the infinite possibilities and the many ways the art can be processed.

54279380_10161839742625085_432922996810711040_o

The piece, which is still in the work in progress stage, begins with the 4 dancers standing in a line facing the audience with one hand on hip and staring out whilst baroque music plays. This opening is striking and gently confronting.

Inviting an audience to a work in progress showing is massively useful for the artists and incredibly interesting and a wonderful sneak peak into the process that is rarely seen by the public outside of the rehearsal rooms.

A great example of this is watching the wonderful, genius English comedian story-teller, Daniel Kitson. He has been putting on ‘work in progress’ shows for years before he finalises the piece and I have seen both his WIP and the finished performance of several of his shows. I enjoyed the WIP pieces more than the end product (although the end product is still incredible). The insight into the process of the artist is like sneaking a peek behind the curtain of the method of the artist. Seeing the wizard. It’s a privilege to be part of the development of the piece.

54522218_10161839742815085_754054050810429440_o

There are interesting uses of ‘tableau vivant’ (living pictures) during the piece and this adds to its power. Statues and movement. The stop and the start. As I said before, it can be confronting but there is nothing more brave for a performer than standing still and looking straight at an audience. Direct connection. This opening tableau brought to mind Stanley Kubrick’s magnificent Barry Lyndon.

There is a moment halfway through the piece when one of the dancers stands centre stage, whilst the other 3 retreat to the darkness of side stage, and she sings; a line and then silence and then repeat. There is space and silence here juxtaposed with the sound of the voice singing. This puts the audience into the place of uncertainty and is again brave and the purpose of true art.
Try, experiment and be not afraid of failure, it is an integral part of the journey.

The four dancers are talented and give emotional performances. The blending of movement and feeling works a treat.

54519918_10161839742830085_9120925904225173504_o

Ephemeral and difficult to categorise, Terrarium show us emotions and moments as opposed to traditional story-telling, this allows (as it should be) the audience to interpret the art without being hand-held through the performance.

According to the choreographer Omer, the work takes short stories with subjects including what it means to be foreign and lonely and creates with the wonderful dancers a piece that will stay with you, whether you ‘understand’ it or not.

Terrarium premiered as part of The Flying Nun by BrandX in Darlinghurst, Sydney in March 2019.

I look forward to seeing the growth of this interesting piece.

 

 

Advertisements

US (2019)

us

 “Who are you?”

“We’re Americans”

A scathing attack on the polarising, binary state of American (and many other countries’) politics and today’s society or just a straight up horror film? You decide.
Commentary on class, race and privilege is on show here but never gets in the way of a good ‘ole scare.

It’s clear Jordan Peele has lots to say and chooses to do it via the often maligned or nichey, horror genre. Not usually the normal route for the passing on of opinion and criticism, although George A Romero did it brilliantly with ‘…the Dead’ zombie series as did John Carpenter with They Live and it’s attack on consumerism. Any shopping mall within the world at the moment doesn’t seem so different from the zombie overrun one in Dawn of the Dead and looking at the way the advertising hordes are after your mind and your money, how far are we really away from many aspects of They Live?

Peele delivered a cutting commentary of the deep wounds of racism and the current effects of the race relations in the magnificent Get Out and now he tackles the ‘Us and Them’ opposites of the way the country is in the uber-relevant midst of in 2019.

The film begins in 1986 with Adelaide Wilson, a young girl on holiday with her parents in Santa Cruz. She strays away from them and enters a funhouse that will forever change her. Cut to present day and now played by Lupita Nyong’o, she is heading to her old family vacation home in Santa Cruz with her husband Gabe (Winston Duke) and her two children, Zora (Shahadi Wright Joseph) and Jason (Evan Alex). Adelaide is apprehensive about returning to the place of the disturbing incident from her childhood but tries to get in the spirit of the trip. They meet their aspirational friends Josh & Kitty Tyler (Eric Heidecker and Elisabeth Moss) and their twin daughters, Becca (Cali Sheldon) and Lyndsey (Noelle Sheldon) at the beach close to the eerie funhouse from Adelaide’s childhood and things take a strange turn from here.

I will not reveal anything more about the plot. I had been excited about this for a while and stayed away from any information about the narrative or even the set up.

No trailers, no reviews, no nuttin’. Recently I’ve been trying to see films with as little information as possible to maximize my own enjoyment. I managed to do so pretty well with Captain Marvel. Again, not trailers, no reading, no nuttin’. No mean feat. It’s a fun experiment.

Hands across AmericaHands Across America

There is commentary here about the duality in humans and shadow and light plays a big part, the fear of the other and the self adorned illusion that these are separate and not two sides of the same coin. This division is happening in America and across the world.
We seem to be in an “Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet” place and this is definitely on show here.

Lupita Nyong’o continues to shine and add to her stellar collection of work and it’s great to see Winston Duke getting a bigger turn and more coverage, his comedy chops are on display here and his star is also on the rise. Elisabeth Moss (always brilliant) and Tim Heidecker (of Tim & Eric fame) who owns the best named boat in film to date ‘The B’Yacht’Ch’, have a LOAD of fun as the protagonists friends and the two main kids (Joseph & Alex) feel rooted in the world, as crazy as it gets.

There are plenty of scares and eerie tones at play and the soundtrack by Michael Abel works very well with the images. Anthem is especially strong as a creepy theme. Not to mention the killer tunes and beautiful placement in the film.
Luniz, anyone? N.W.A., anyone?

Whilst not as tight or sparky as his debut, his sophomore effort shows that Peele is no fluke. His knowledge of cinema and horror films, and referencing amongst others, Hitchcock, Kubrick and Spielberg, is real and I’m looking forward to watching this new director’s work as he traverses through the map of this business called film-making.
And all this from one half of the mighty Key & Peele sketch comedy duo.
Who’da thunk it? I had 5 on it.

It’s not about drugsIt’s a dope song.”

4/5