Dance diary. October 2013

  • Stephanie Burridge

It was a pleasure to catch up with Stephanie Burridge in Canberra in early October. Currently a permanent resident of Singapore, Burridge was back in Canberra to work with GOLD, Canberra Dance Theatre’s group of performers over the age of 55. As the longest serving former director of Canberra Dance Theatre, Burridge was invited to return to restage a work she made for CDT in 1988, Something to Remember. I was not in town to see a performance but my Canberra Times article, which gives the back story, is below amongst the list of press articles for October. [Update 28 April 2019: online version no longer available].

Stephanie Burridge and Ravenna Tucker in 'Requiem', 2002. Photo: Phillip Tan
Stephanie Burridge and Ravenna Tucker in Burridge’s Requiem, 2002. Photo: Phillip Tan

Burridge, who is married to the first Singaporean director of the Singapore Arts Festival, continues to choreograph and perform. She teaches Dance and Contextual Studies at LaSalle College of the Arts and Singapore Management University and is series editor for the Routledge publishing company’s Dance in Asia and the Pacific. To date Burridge has edited books on dance in Cambodia, India, Malaysia, Australia and Taiwan.

  • Dancing on the Piazza Castello, Turin
Piazza Castello, Turin, October 2013
Piazza Castello, Turin October 2013

It’s always surprising when and where dance happens. This performance was taking place on the Piazza Castello in Turin very early on a misty Sunday morning in October.

  • Reed Luplau

News of Reed Luplau and his work with Lar Lubovitch came to me from a colleague in the form of a program from a recent season by the Lubovitch company in Washington DC. Here is a link to the program. I look forward to seeing more of Luplau’s own choreography at some stage. I really enjoyed the only one of his choreographic works I have seen, which I wrote about way back in 2009.

  • Press for October

‘A welcome, sinking feeling’. Review of Michael Francis Willoughby in Elohgulp, Jigsaw Theatre Company. The Canberra Times, 1 October 2013, ARTS, p. 6. [Online version no longer available].

‘Bendy, bawdy and brilliant’. Review of EMPIRE, Spiegelworld. The Canberra Times, 12 October 2013, p. ARTS 22. [Online version no longer available]

‘From Russia, with no love’. Review of Swan Lake. Russian National Theatre Ballet, The Canberra Times, 15 October 2013. [Online version no longer available].

‘Burridge conjures golden performance’. Article on Stephanie Burridge and her work for Canberra Dance Theatre’s GOLD group. The Canberra Times, 18 October 2013. [Online version no longer available].

Michelle Potter, 30 October 2013

Select option. Quantum Leap

29 July 2009, Playhouse, Canberra Theatre Centre

The dancers of Quantum Leap, the pick-up company of QL2 Centre for Youth Dance in Canberra, are not professional although their enthusiasm for dance is palpable. But the choreographers with whom these young dancers work each year for their annual project are professional. So any review of Quantum Leap is really a review of whether the choreographers have the understanding and expertise to harness raw energy and a varying range of skills to produce a coherent piece of work that maximises what these young dancers have to offer. This year the theme of the project was choice and, although the results were, as ever, uneven, some moments were remarkably successful.

Liz Lea’s contribution, Select Red, was for me the undoubted stand out section. Lea chose to work only with female dancers and drew on the stylised movements and poses that have featured in her works about extraordinary female dancers—such as Ruth St Denis—of the early twentieth-century. The dancers needed to move in unison and yet look individualistic and even idiosyncratic and they responded beautifully. Lea’s choreography had a calmness and velvety smoothness to it and again the dancers responded. Not all the dancers, however, had the maturity and sophistication to carry off the move from this first part of the piece to the second, which showed the individual choices they had gone on to make about dress (always red), movement and general lifestyle. Nevertheless, the point was made.

The second act featured some exceptionally energetic dancing choreographed by Marko Panzic and Reed Luplau, although it was not always clear which choreographer had contributed what. Perhaps the most exhilarating section was a vignette featuring twelve male dancers, performing with what can only be described as total passion, and dancing to assorted Latin rhythms. Again the choreographer had chosen well as far as dancers were concerned. The the loose-limbed, fast and furious dancing, which largely happened in nothing more than a line across the front of the stage, was vibrant and rousing.

QL2 has a strong collaborative model at work with its annual shows. The two composers working with the company on this occasion, Nicholas Ng and Adam Ventoura, each produced an original score. Each was startlingly different from the other—a great experience for the dancers. Costumes were by Eline Martinsen and worked especially well in Select Red where small touches of red on the largely black outfits in the first section gave just a hint of what was to come later. Lighting designer Kaoru Alfonso also made an important contribution and again it was in Select Red that his designs were most effective. And for once the video footage that accompanied each piece was not intrusive but supported the works.

Michelle Potter, 2 August 2009

Featured image: Liz Lea’s Select Red. Photo: © Lorna Sim. Courtesy QL2 Centre for Youth Dance

Body Torque 2.2. The Australian Ballet

27-30 May 2009, Sydney Theatre, Walsh Bay

Two works saved the Australian Ballet’s 2009 Body Torque season from drifting totally out of the memory the minute the curtain came down. They were Reed Luplau’s Bleecker and Remi Wortmeyer’s Fade Not. Both Luplau and Wortmeyer made very different works in every sense imaginable, but both were able to grab the audience’s attention from the opening moment and hold it throughout. Wortmeyer’s Fade Out was very short—probably no longer than three minutes; Luplau’s was a little longer. But both choreographers stood apart from the others in that neither tried to say too much in the amount of time they had given themselves. Both had thought through a basic premise and moved forward with a strongly focused approach.

Bleecker, named after a well known street in Greenwich Village, New York, showed the influence of Luplau’s work with Sydney Dance Company in its recent post-Murphy iteration, especially in terms of vocabulary. The dancers moved in a physically extreme manner, well away from the balanced, centred, refined look we are accustomed to seeing at the Australian Ballet. And what a gutsy performance from Dana Stephensen, the one female in the cast of four. Luplau’s choreography poured out of her body, making dance look like the kinaesthetic art that it is. She was more than ably accompanied by Andrew Killian, Rudy Hawkes and Andrew Wright.

Luplau says in his choreographic statement that Bleecker is ‘a journey of self discovery’, and he reflects that there is ‘a certain captivating moment you experience as you explore one of the world’s greatest cities’. Well Bleecker was a captivating moment in Luplau’s journey as a choreographer. We can only hope that the journey will be an ongoing one.

Wortmeyer’s Fade Not began with the piercing and unexpected sound of a human voice and the piece was a courageous experiment at linking dancer and singer, movement and voice. Wortmeyer used a librettist, Malcolm Rock, whose written words telling of a dying mother’s wish to see her newborn child flourish in life were sung onstage by Naomi Johns. Wortmeyer choreographed Johns into the work without it seeming unnatural or contrived and, while his choreography for the leading (and only) dancer—an able Gina Brescianini—was classically based and without any real sense of invention, the work generated an innate sense of clarity and harmony.

Three other works completed the program: Damien Welch’s Chemical Trigger, notable for the fact that Welch composed the music as well as the choreography, Robert Curran’s Veiled in Flesh, and Kevin Jackson’s Enter Closer.

Body Torque has been a feature of the Australian Ballet’s annual season for a number of years now and is the most recent development in a long line of similar Australian Ballet workshop activities dating back to the earliest days of the company under Peggy van Praagh. Choreographic workshops need strong direction however and only Bleecker and Fade Out looked as though they had been subjected to any sort of rigorous discussion with peers and elders before being put on the stage.

Michelle Potter, 1 June 2009