Momenta. Sydney Dance Company

21 June 2024. The Playhouse, Canberra Theatre Centre

Below is a slightly enlarged version of my review of momenta, originally published online by Dance Australia on 24 June 2024. A link to the Dance Australia version is at this link.

The word momenta is the plural form of momentum, a word that means ‘the product of the mass and velocity of an object’. Momenta is also the title of the latest work from Rafael Bonachela, current artistic director of Sydney Dance Company, and there have been several explanations of why Bonachela titled the work as he did. Some are quite complex and don’t help much with understanding what Bonachela was considering as he created the work. But no matter how we might discuss the word, Bonachela’s work momenta was certainly filled with mass and velocity with the ‘objects’ being the extraordinary dancers who make up the current composition of Sydney Dance Company.

The work began with some remarkable unison dancing and this is an aspect of Bonachela’s choreography that I have admired over several decades. He has a gift for grouping dancers in constantly changing arrangements, and for giving those dancers such a varied selection of movement, poses and uses of space within a unison component. The opening section of momenta often had the dancers working on the floor and using their lifted legs as a focus, which initially seemed somewhat unusual as a component of Bonachela’s approach to unison work. But no matter how or where the dancers were positioned, they responded with an input that took the breath away.

Those opening moments set the scene for what followed and as momenta progressed the large groupings broke down into solos, duets, trios and other arrangements of performers until we reached the end sections when the unison work began again. Momenta was very much an abstract work for me, but it was compositionally varied within that overall abstraction and as such the choreography never lost its engrossing quality.

An absolute highlight was a duet between Naiara de Matos and Piran Scott, while the work of Emily Seymour also stood out. But it is quite astonishing to watch the flexibility, the fluidity, the energy and the absolute attention to the tiniest choreographic detail from every single dancer in the current company, many of whom are relatively new performers of Bonachela’s work.

Naiara de Matos and Piran Scott in a duet from momenta. Sydney Dance Company, 2024. Photo: © Pedro Greig

In terms of collaborative input, the highlight was the lighting from Damien Cooper. It was mostly relatively dark, although the colour of that darkness was not always the black we might have expected. As the work progressed, there were hints of dark green, sudden flashes of red, a burst of white cloud, at times a sudden brightness, and at others a mysterious hazy quality (especially, although not exclusively, when that white cloud began to dissipate). The lighting design was enhanced by the constant presence of a circular rig of 19 spotlights that moved up, down and around in the performing space and limited, at times, where the dancers could gather. The movement of the rig was beautifully controlled so that it appeared to be an essential part of the choreography.

The soundscape came from Nick Wales whose original, commissioned composition incorporated Distant Light by Latvian composer Pēteris Vasks. Costumes and set were by Elizabeth Gadsby with assistance from Emma White. The costumes were varied (a little) in style and colour but there was a minimalist quality to them in keeping with the overall abstract quality of the work. Their simplicity gave the dancers every opportunity to show that the focus of momenta was the body in motion.

The cast of momenta. Sydney Dance Company, 2024. Photo: © Pedro Greig

The work closed with showers of small pieces of sparkling cellophane falling onto the stage and out into the auditorium. I’m not sure why this happened and it was perhaps the one aspect of momenta that seemed entirely unnecessary. But momenta was such an absorbing production that this odd addition could just be pushed aside and basically forgotten.

The work is a huge credit to the underlying approach to contemporary dance that we have come to expect from Bonachela in his leadership of Sydney Dance Company.

Michelle Potter, 25 June 2024

Featured image: A solo section from momenta. Sydney Dance Company, 2024. Photo: © Pedro Greig

Postscript: There were some great production shots from momenta but they were not captioned with the names of dancers. Why? As a result I have limited myself to just three shots, one of which I was able to caption (hopefully correctly).

Elixir Festival, 2024

10–20 April, 2024. Sadler’s Wells Theatre, London
reviewed by Sonia York-Pryce

It has been 10 years since the inaugural Elixir Festival, the brainchild of Chief Executive & Artistic Director of Sadler’s Wells, Alistair Spalding, and Artistic Programmer and Producer of the Elixir Festival, Jane Hackett. Created in 2014 as ‘a celebration of creative ageing’, the 4-day festival thrust the subjectivity of dance and ageing into the spotlight, highlighting the artistry of older professional dance artists. It featured works by Mats Ek, Pascal Merighi, Hofesh Shechter, Matteo Fargion and Jonathan Burrows with performances by Dominique Mercy of the Pina Bausch Company, Mats Ek with his muse Ana Laguna and Argentina’s Generación Del Ayer, plus former members of London Contemporary Dance Theatre returning to the stage. This program drew a full house confirming that audiences were interested in seeing diversity, with great artists performing irrespective of their age. The Company of Elders, Sadler’s Wells longstanding community dance company, performed alongside other amateur companies from the UK. The Art of Age conference brought together dance scholars, and educators to discuss the continuing age bias and the need for more inclusivity within the field of Western dance.

Move on a decade and the Elixir Festival 2024 has grown in stature and prominence. The festival has been co-funded by the Creative Europe Program of the European Union, as part of DANCE ON, PASS ON, DREAM ON. Spanning over eleven days, featuring performances from international professional dance artists from 12 countries, amateur dancers, workshops, Elixir on digital stage and talks. Dance featuring seasoned performers is certainly becoming more mainstream, but progress is still needed to maintain a permanent presence. Headliners included the Mother of African dance Germaine Acogny, performing alongside, Malou Airaudo from Pina Bausch Company, Louise Lecavalier, Charlotta Öfverholm, Dance On Ensemble Berlin, Ben Duke and Christopher Matthews to name but a few, accompanied by Sadler’s Wells Company of Elders, with UK based amateur performance groups.

The opening night’s triple bill was a feast of creative ageing and life experience. Germaine Acogny (79) founder of Senegal’s École des Sables and Malou Airaudo, who incidentally was celebrating her 76th birthday on the night, performed their first work together, Common Ground[s] to Fabrice Bouillon LaForest’s accompaniment on strings. Beautifully lit by Zeynep Kepekli to highlight the two acclaimed performers, with costume design by Petra Leidner, it is a work that shows them in a variety of modes, as warriors and survivors of dance. Whilst giving each other respect, there is tenderness, and a mirroring of motion. The audience were delightfully receptive to these two dance elders, and it certainly made a strong statement that seeing ‘age on stage’ was receiving the respect it warranted. This work has toured internationally as a worthy partner alongside Pina Bausch’s Rite of Spring.  Bausch was an early advocate for intergenerational dance, valuing the assets ageing brought to the performance.

To follow Louise Lecavalier (65), the punk princess of contemporary dance, famed for her incredible gravity defying performances with Edouard Lock’s La La La Human Steps in the 1980s, performed her work, Minutes around late Afternoon. She has come to choreographing late in life but through this work she continues to thrill with her ceaseless moving, arms in constant motion, mirrored by those feet as she bourrées endlessly, gliding across the stage, effortlessly. Dressed in black by designers Yso & Elizabeth Duran, she is defined by the starkness of the stage lighting by Alain Lortie and François Blouin, with her face at times obscured by her blonde tousled hair cascading out of a hoodie. She could be a teenager, judging by her unlimited stamina and presence as she moves continuously, with hardly a breath exhaled as she balances ceaseless motion with the accompanying sound mixing of Benot Beaupre. Music by Antoine Berthiaume (Lien 3), The black dog (Bass mantra, Greddy gutter guru), Dawn of midi (Atlas), are laudable partners to her performance. Lecavalier gives a masterclass in ‘seeing is believing’, defying all concepts that you are too old to thrill. She is just as exhilarating to watch now as she was when a ‘no limits barred’ dancer back in the 80’s. May she never stop!

The final work for the evening White Hare, was commissioned by Sadler’s Wells, and is described as a trio for 2 dancers and a tortoise. Choreographed by artistic director Ben Duke of LOST DOG with fantastic performances by 50 somethings Christopher Akrill and Valentina Formenti as a middle-aged couple navigating life.  Duke is known for producing work with a dark satirical edge and this is no different as it traverses life in reverse with issues of Armageddon, survival, and trivialities of life. This alongside the aptly named Tipple the tortoise, who perhaps appears as a metaphor for longevity.  It’s a beautiful, humorous piece with exuberant dancing from both, with the set design by Delia Peel and sound by Jethro Cooke. It is a fitting foil to end the evening’s wonderful inspirational performances.

Throughout the festival choreographer, performer and visual artist Christopher Matthews/FORMED VIEW premieres ACT 3, the final work of his trilogy, following on from My Body and Lads. Here Matthews explores queer masculinity, obscured emotions, identity, fragility, intimacy, ageism and the male gaze in later life. In an artist talk during the festival with Nicola Conibere he revealed how he needs to re-think dance history, questioning how masculinity is defined in dance. For ACT 3 he references Kenneth MacMillan’s bedroom scene from Romeo & Juliet, imagery from New York based photography collective PaJaMa, queer writers of the 1930s and 40s with further inspiration from the nude male Greek and Roman marble sculptures in Munich’s Glyptotek. The work features a cast of male collaborators all over the age of 60, Donald Hutera, Bruce Corrie, Andy Newman, Roberto Ishii, John Charles Marshall, Markus Trunk and Stephen Rowe. This is a statement in itself, as male performers of this age are rare to see performing. So, giving them a place to perform and be seen is a triumph. The set is minimal, a mattress covered in white fabric, the men similarly costumed, and the observed starkness brings for greater visibility of the content. By using the domestic setting of a bedroom, he experiments with intimacy by bending the boundaries of realism and fantasy. The work is improvised with butoh-inspired movements that explore tenderness and connection. Matthews is interested in what is considered high or low art and interrogating how an audience observes performance. The work was first shown on the opening night of the festival in the upstairs foyer of the main theatre then later in a similar space in the Lilian Baylis Studio. It was well received.

On April 12th the double bill brought together Charlotta Öfverholm and Jordi Cortés former members of DV8, In A Cage of Light and Susan Kempster’s Mother in the Lilian Baylis Studio. Öfverholm and Cortés, choreographed and performed the work alongside fellow collaborator Tobias Hallgren, with the score played by composer and musician Lauri Antila. Öfverholm and Cortés bring together a sublime physical theatre performance of wit, balance, showmanship, humour, melancholy, drama, authenticity and life experience. These seasoned performers are so comfortable on the stage. Not for one minute is there any respite for Öfverholm, as she is either swinging on a trapeze high above the stage ready to plummet or hanging by her fingertips from a ridiculously high steel bar fixed perilously high on the wall stage right, or metaphorically assuming the role of a cello artfully played by Cortés. These performers accomplish what we believe is impossible for older dancers let alone older people to achieve. The piece moves at a rapid pace and concentration is essential to keep a breadth of their performance through dance, voice, song or stillness. This is a well performed piece and timing is of the essence. Their love for performing is all encompassing and the audience love the ride.

Charlotta Öfverholm & Jordi Cortés rehearsing at Sadler’s Wells. Photo: © Sonia York-Pryce

Kempster’s Mother commissioned by Sadler’s Wells, featured an intergenerational duet which looked at intimacy, ageing and how this is perceived when we look at the relationship between an older woman and a young man or perhaps a mother and son. It is a work that looks at two different bodies, ambiguity and assumptions, contemporary dance partnering, with the connections and perceptions that inspire Kempster. Danced by creative collaborators Charlotte Broom and Harry Wilson, the work is bursting with free-flowing movements filling all angles of the stage with score by composer Dirk Haubrich. The dancers are costumed similarly in stunning bronze fabrics designed by Jessica Cabassa which enhance the movements of the dancers, with lighting design by Ros Chase. To follow on from the physical theatre of Öfverholm and Cortés was a hard task, with the lines of distinction at times blurred, but it was the pure dance that triumphed, and it appeared the dancers enjoyed the experience as much as the audience.

On April 17th in the Lilian Baylis Studio, Berlin’s Dance On Ensemble brought 2 works, London Story a reimagining of Merce Cunningham’s (1963) Story and Mathilde Monnier’s reworking of the former to produce Never Ending (Story). Dance On Ensemble is the first mature dancer company founded since the legendary NDT3, (1991-2006) and is on its second iteration with continued secured funding from the German Federal Government. They also form part of DANCE ON, PASS ON, DREAM ON. Sadler’s Wells is also one of 11 DOPODO partners co-funded by the European Union.  Incidentally for Sadler’s Wells that partnership will come to an end after Elixir 2024, which is a great loss for the establishment and UK dance in general. Story featured dancers, Ty Boomershine, Tim Persent, Marco Volta, Emma Lewis, Gesine Moog, and Jone San Martin. The original improvised work was performed numerous times with constant changes and alterations allowed at each performance; with only one filmed version in 1964 for reference. So, the archive is indeed limited and much remains unknown other than some notes from Cunningham himself.  With this in mind DOE has chosen to re-imagine the work with the assistance from Cunningham re-stager Douglas Squires. Centre stage is set with a huge pile of clothes that the cast rummages through, puts on, takes off and changes numerous times.  The scenery consists of 2 black boards with text charting time changes, transitions, performance and movement notes, all are markers for the audience to understand how the performance will progress. Matching this is the score by Toshi Ichiyanagi with live music provided by Mattef Kuhlmey, with a digital clock that sets the pace as it runs simultaneously throughout the performance, clocking the clothing changes, transitions, changes of direction and much more. This version is colourful, joyful, amusing and certainly retains its modernity. The re-imagined choreography gave the cast wonderful opportunities to highlight their capabilities and they work beautifully as an ensemble. With lighting designs by Martin Beeretz, costumes by Sophia Piepenbrock-Saitz and visual artist Christopher Matthews assumes the role of Cunningham collaborator Robert Rauschenberg, providing ready-made stick images in primal coloured tape depicting dance moves offering further embellishment and humour to the work.

Mathilde Monnier’s Never Ending (Story) is her response to Cunningham’s Story using the poetry of David Antin (1932-2016), a contemporary of Cunningham and John Cage. Monnier experiments with how thought and movement come together. This work is the antithesis of Story in that it is a structured composition with the dancers constantly on the move. The contrast between Antin’s poetry and Monnier’s choreography frequently produces moments of real humour. The cast of Ty Boomershine, Marco Volta, Gesine Moog, Emma Lewis, and Jone San Martin, bring together, voice, movement, thought and repetitions in an altogether entertaining piece. Light design is by Martin Beeretz, costumes by Mathilde Monnier and sound design by Mattef Kuhlmey.

These two works illuminate the skills of Dance On Ensemble and demonstrate that artistry is at the forefront here. How fortunate the audience is to see this company demonstrate that dance need not have an expiry-date, but that age and life experience become assets that embellish and imbue a performance.

Sonia York-Pryce, 20 June 2024

Featured image: Elixir Banner, featuring Germaine Acogny and Mailou Airoudo. Image credit: Sadler’s Wells

Horizon. Bangarra Dance Theatre

13 June 2024. Drama Theatre, Sydney Opera House

Below is my slightly enlarged review of Horizon, originally published online by Dance Australia on 17 June 2024. A link to the Dance Australia version is at this link.

Horizon is a collaborative venture focusing on selected dance customs and activities in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand. It is Bangarra Dance Theatre’s first mainstage, international collaborative initiative, a momentous and admirable undertaking. But the production was not without some issues. 

Horizon was officially described as a double bill but there were three works on the program. Two were linked by the overarching title, The Light Inside, with one by former Bangarra senior artist Deborah Brown, the other by Māori choreographer and director of Auckland’s New Zealand Dance Company, Moss Patterson. Despite the linking by title, each displayed a quite different approach, especially in a choreographic sense. I’m not really sure why the two weren’t thought of as separate works. The coupling seemed to me to be just a convenient and non-dance way of making an association between two works on the program.

Horizon opened with a short work, Kulka, by Sani Townson, former Bangarra dancer and now Youth Programs Coordinator with the company. His focus was on nighttime and the fact that his specific Torres Strait Island society abounds in traditional songs and dances about constellations. Those songs and dances are guides to the totems and clans that make up the culture of the society.

Nine dancers performed Kulka to a percussive score by Amy Flannery. A strong, dominant role was taken by dancer Kassidy Waters. The choreography for Kulka was, however, a little repetitive especially in the beginning when Waters was constantly held upside down and carried across the stage in this position. But Townson later developed some interesting groupings of dancers and introduced us to a feature of Horizon that was repeated throughout each of the works: the dancers were mirrored in a structure that acted as a kind of backcloth in the case of Kulka, or later in the show as reflections in a watery foreground.

Callum Goolang, Kassidy Waters and Daniel Mateo in Kulka from Horizon. Bangarra Dance Theatre, 2024. Photo: © Daniel Boud

Deborah Brown’s contribution to The Light Inside was subtitled Salt Water. Opening with a magnificent solo from Daniel Mateo, Salt Water was performed to a score by Steve Francis and Brendon Boney. Brown’s choreography was beautifully fluid, mesmerising even, with all the dancers contributing to what was an outstanding performance. A particular highlight was a solo by Lillian Banks called Blue Star. This section told of a seasonal change when moisture in the air makes the stars twinkle and turn blue. This change becomes a guide for the daily work of the seafaring peoples of the Torres Strait Islands. Banks gave a clarity to every moment of the choreography.

Moss Patterson’s contribution, also performed to the score by Francis and Boney, had the subtitle Fresh Water reflecting Patterson’s background growing up in the area around Lake Taupo on the North Island of Aotearoa New Zealand.

His choreography had overtones of the Māori haka and I couldn’t stop my mind moving out of the theatre to football matches between Australia and New Zealand, which inevitably contain a haka at the start of the match. But the work ended in a quieter fashion with the full ensemble dancing to suggest peace, with final moments proposing the meeting of salt and fresh water.

As is always the case with Bangarra productions, there were elements beyond the choreography that were standouts. In particular the costume designs by Clair Parker for Kulka and Jennifer Irwin for The Light Inside, were exceptional. At one stage Irwin’s costumes for Salt Water featured extended sleeves and similar additions to other parts of the costumes. These additions were manipulated by the dancers so that choreography and costume moved as extensions of each other.

Emily Flannery, Maddison Paluch and Courtney Redford in a scene from Salt Water in The Light Inside. Bangarra Dance Theatre, 2024. Photo: © Daniel Boud

It is unfortunate, however, that the lighting design by Karen Norris was quite dark for much of the time, and the beautifully decorative elements of the costumes were only really clear via production images. Elizabeth Gadsby’s set design made quite clear the concept of the horizon around which the works were developed.

The evening was quite different from what we have been used to watching from Bangarra. ‘Quite different’ because the usual narrative-style approach we so often associate with works from Bangarra was missing, or at least the works were based on much more abstract ideas than has usually been the case. Hope and light across and within cultures, with water also a feature, were the themes I extracted from the production.

Michelle Potter, 17 June 2024

Featured Image: Daniel Mateo in Salt Water from The Light Inside. Bangarra Dance Theatre, 2024. Photo: © Daniel Boud

Dance diary. May 2024

  • Kristian Fredrikson Scholarship

Given the publication of my book, Kristian Fredrikson. Designer by Melbourne Books in 2020, I am always interested in the winners of the biennial award of the Kristian Fredrikson Scholarship. My book would never have been published without the generous donations I received via the Australian Cultural Fund, and from royalties owing to Fredrikson during the year I was struggling to assist financially with the book’s publication. The committee that administers the scholarship was hugely supportive throughout all aspects of the book’s production.

The 2024 winner of the Kristian Fredrikson Scholarship is Charles Davis who graduated from NIDA in 2014, and who has also studied architectural design at Monash University. He has designed for Sydney Theatre Company, West Australian Opera, Opera Queensland, Pinchgut Opera and other theatrical groups. As far as his input into dance productions goes, Davis was set designer for the Australian Ballet’s recent production of Stephanie Lake’s Circle Electric. Incidentally, another recipient of an earlier Kristian Fredrikson Scholarship, Paula Levis, designed the costumes for that same production.

  • Frank van Straten (1936–2024)

This is a somewhat belated comment on the death of Frank van Straten, who died in Melbourne in April 2024. Van Straten was an amazing historian of the theatre across a range of genres and was the first archivist at Melbourne’s Performing Arts Museum (now the Australian Performing Arts Collection). I remember him particularly for his hugely valuable contribution to Graeme Murphy’s Tivoli, a joint production between the Australian Ballet and Sydney Dance Company, which premiered in 2001 to commemorate Australia’s Centenary of Federation. Van Straten acted as historical consultant for the work, which honoured and celebrated the Tivoli circuit and the remarkable nature of its repertoire. His input helped make Tivoli an exceptional ‘dance musical’.

Cover image for Tivoli national tour 2001

Van Straten’s knowledge of theatrical history in Australia was vast and I recall a post on this website in which, in a comment, he helped with identifying a particular Sydney-based teacher working in the 1930s named Richard White. His books on Australian performing arts history, too, have often given me information that I had struggled to find elsewhere. He was a truly generous person.

I can’t call this comment an obituary, but for what I would call an obituary see the article in Stage Whispers. Listen, too, to van Straten discuss the nature of Tivoli performances as recorded by Philippe Charluet on film at this link. Oral historian Bill Stephens has also recorded an interview with van Straten for the National Library of Australia’s oral history program. It currently requires written permission for access, but that may change in the near future following van Straten’s death. Here is the current catalogue link.

  • Backstage notes

Jennifer Shennan drew my attention to a recent article in The Guardian called Wings, Wigs and Wonder. It takes the reader backstage during a performance by Birmingham Royal Ballet and is called a ‘photo essay’. It has some interesting backstage images included within the text, which was written by Katie Edwards. Read at this link.

  • Recent Reading

In my dance diary for April 2024 I wrote about Deborah Jowitt’s recent publication Errand into the Maze. The Life and Works of Martha Graham, which to my mind was not always the easiest of reads, despite Jowitt’s extensive research and very strong dance background. As fate would have it, however, while mulling over Jowitt’s publication I came across an interesting article by Marina Harss, whose work I much admire, called On Point: Martha Graham’s Perfect Partnership with Isamu Noguchi. It’s available (at least for the moment) at this link.

Currently I am reading another of the books I bought at the recent Canberra Lifeline Book Fair—Isadora. A sensational life by Peter Kurth (Paperback edition, 2003). In an early page entitled ‘Press for Isadora‘, one comment is, ‘There is never a dull moment in Peter Kurth’s action-packed biography…’. True! Much of what is mentioned does not appear in other books about Isadora, or not nearly to the same extent. Nevertheless, with its different focus it provides another perspective on her life, perhaps with the word ‘sensational’, which appears in the book’s subtitle, emerging as characterising that different focus. Dance is probably not the major focus!

  • Press for May 2024

‘Dancers perform strong farewell to Ruth Osborne.’ City News (Canberra), 17 May 2024. Online at this link

Michelle Potter, 31 May 2024

Featured image: Cameron Holmes and Maxim Zenin in Circle Electric. The Australian Ballet, 2024. Photo: © Daniel Boud

Subject to Change. QL2 Dance

16 May 2024. The Playhouse, Canberra Theatre Centre

Below is a slightly enlarged version of my review of Subject to Change, which was published on 17 May in Canberra CityNews.

Three separate works made up Subject to Change, the 2024 production by Quantum Leap, the pre-professional youth performance group at Canberra’s QL2 Dance. First up was Kaleidoscope choreographed by Gabrielle Nankivell, then came Alpha Beta from Alisdair Macindoe. Both Nankivell and Macindoe are professional choreographers with extensive experience across Australia and overseas with much to offer young dancers. Voyage was the third work on the program and the final work from current artistic director of QL2 Dance, Ruth Osborne, as she prepares to hand over the directorship to Alice Lee Holland. 

The overarching theme of the evening was the effects of a rapidly evolving world and the need to adapt to changing conditions. Not all works were easily or instantly understood within that theme, but the standard of dancing was exceptional, as was the overall theatricality of the production, especially in terms of the lighting design from Antony Hateley and the film input from Wildbear Digital.

Nankivell’s Kaleidoscope was structured in a series of short sections, each separated by a sudden blackout. It focused on negotiating change and contained what was probably the most complex choreography of the evening. The dancers had to move on and off stage with speed and the work contained a vast array of choreographic patterns, all filled with what was also a vast array of movement. One of the dancers I spoke to used the word ‘wild’ (without in any sense condemning the work) to describe the choreography. The movements were often quite intricate and sometimes unexpected and certainly required an ongoing and strong input from the dancers. It was performed to a score by Luke Smiles and, given the speed and complexity of both music and choreography, the ability of the dancers to give the lively performance that they did was outstanding.

Macindoe’s Alpha Beta, performed to a score by Macindoe himself, was second on the program and looked at concepts of individualism and collectivism. After the fast-moving Kaleidoscope, Alpha Beta seemed, at least initially, quite static with the dancers often standing still or engaging in sharp movements of the arms into positions that they held fixed for a few seconds. While it ended with the dancers engaging in a kind of rave, which was in opposition to the stillness that permeated the early sections, for me Alpha Beta wasn’t quite so engaging as the previous work.

Scene from Alpha Beta in the Quantum Leap program Subject to Change. QL2 Dance, 2024. Photo: © Olivia Wikner

The final work was Osborne’s Voyage, which in true Osborne fashion was clearly structured in terms of a strong and varied use of the stage space and a constantly changing arrangement of groupings of dancers. Performed to music by long-term collaborator with QL2, Adam Ventoura, Voyage examined the experience of change, often in an emotionally moving way. It was probably the most clearly understandable of the three works in terms of giving an insight into the overarching theme. This was most apparent when on a few occasions the dancers came together in a single line across the stage and appeared to be examining their individual responses to change.

Scene from Voyage in the Quantum Leap program Subject to Change. QL2 Dance, 2024. Photo: © Olivia Wikner

Voyage was enhanced by some exceptional film footage created by WildBear Entertainment and used as a kind of backcloth. What made it special was that it had been edited in an engaging manner to be seen not as a series of single frame shots, but sometimes as a collection of two or three different moments of footage placed side by side, or as a series of mirror images of one particular section of footage.

Costumes were by Cate Clelland. also a long-term collaborator with QL2 Dance. As with her previous costumes for Quantum Leap programs, they were simple but effective in design and in the use of colour.

Subject to Change was one of Quantum Leap’s strongest productions and a fitting farewell to Ruth Osborne who has been at the helm of QL2 Dance since the beginning of its existence some 25 years ago. The list of alumni that Osborne has taught and mentored and who have gone on to make a career in dance is quite simply incredible and some of those who danced in Subject to Change are very likely to join the list.

Michelle Potter, 18 May 2024

Featured image: Scene from Kaleidoscope in the Quantum Leap program Subject to Change. QL2 Dance, 2024. Photo: © Olivia Wikner