By Patricia Boccadoro
PARIS, 8 JULY 2015 Entering the theatre one was handed out a
pair of special glasses, the sign that what one was going to see would be,
well, a different dance experience, something other than perhaps expected.
As indeed it was. The audience was assailed with new technologies, with
new sensations as it was forcibly embarked on a trip into the world of the
future as the dancers played around with optical illusions and 3 D
projections. Garry Stewart, artistic director of Australian Dance
Theatre* since 1999, a man fascinated
by the study of physics, plunged his audience into the heart of the
Stewart, who began his dance career at the age of 20, shot to notoriety
with the creation of works such as Birdbrain for his troupe, a
work which is said to have attracted thousands of spectators over four
continents, and which was followed by his staging of 300,000 people for
the opening of the Sydney Festival in 2009.
Choreography: Garry Stewart
Photo: Chris Herzfeld
Now, together with the collaboration of the Deakin Motion Lab of the
University of Melbourne, he has created Multiverse, a show for
three dancers, but where ones attention is too often captured by the
amazing moving kaleidoscope above them. Dancing rayon of white and pink,
concentric circles that resemble spiders webs, and shooting stars
cascading downwards in crimson showers forming archways of moving
red dots take precedence over the three muscular young people on stage
despite the fact their movements frequently echo the slants of the crimson
pathway. Images of giant octopus with enormous waving tentacles give
place to angular blocks of emerald green matter covering the stage.
But where was dance in all this fabulous technological prowess? The
second half of the piece probably worked better than the first when the
dancers started to assert themselves and began to guide the images,
pushing the parallel bars and directing the three dimensional figures, but
they were defeated by the majesty of the projections. Particularly
outstanding were the giant whirlpools and gaping black holes high in the
air above their heads, where dance had no part.
Fascinating for some, but soulless for others, Multiverse was
more an experiment in mixing dance with three dimensional images, for if
one adds the repetitive soundtrack by Brendan Woithe, a non-ending
succession of electronic vibrations lasting one hour, the work went on too
long. Indeed, despite the majestic images, people, frequently bemused,
began looking at their watches when the piece was barely halfway through.
Had Stewart condensed his creation into just 30 minutes, it would have
been almost enjoyable. As it was, it proved hard going with dance
relegated into second place.
*Australian Dance Theatre was
founded by Elizabeth Dalman in 1965.
Based in Paris, Patricia Boccadoro is the dance editor