Australasian Dance Collective: THREE

ADC-Melanie-Lane’s-Alterum-photo-by-David-KellyThree is a program of three Australian premieres of new works by three different choreographers. Two of the works are by significant Australian choreographers Melanie Lane and Jack Lister, and the third is by London-based Israeli choreographer, Hofesh Shechter.

ADC is the first Australian company to remount one of Schechter’s works, and certainly the first time any of his works has been seen in Canberra. As it was also the first time ADC has performed in Canberra this short Canberra season was highly anticipated.

Therefore it was very disappointing to arrive at the theatre to discover there were no printed programs available. The information on the Canberra Theatre Website gave some oblique information about each of the three works and the names of the choreographers but nowhere on the website or in the media releases were the names of the dancers mentioned.

The names of the dancers listed below therefore are taken from the ADC website as the ADC’s 2022 company and were presumably the dancers who performed in Canberra in all three works.

The program commenced with Melanie Lane’s Alterum. There was particular interest in this work because Lane is a former Canberran who earlier in the year had choreographed a large-scale work, Metal Park for Canberra’s youth dance ensemble, QL2 Dance, as part of similar triple bill. Though quite different from that work, Alterum proved an arresting introduction for the six ADC dancers to Canberra audiences, had we known who we were watching.

Costumed in shiny body-hugging costumes designed by Alana Sargent, with the three men wearing over-sized great-coats for some of the work, and dancing to an insistent, abrasive soundscape by Clark, the six dancers performed Lane’s frenetic choreography with commitment and admirable precision.

Affective use of red and blue lighting which heightened the drama, together with combative, insect-like movements made for compelling stage pictures. However the unison bottom wiggling at one point seemed to indicate that the choreographer may have lost inspiration mid-way through.

Whether it was the gentle soothing soundscape, again by Clark, or Jack Lister’s beguiling slow-motion choreography so superbly and luxuriously executed by the dancers, but Still Life, is the work which will long live in my memory and one which I will look forward to seeing again.

Taking his inspirations from 16th and 17th century Memento Mori artworks, Lister has created a beguiling work of art of his own in which, the dancers weave in and out of combinations.

One commences a move and then another gently takes over and completes the movement. The way Lister has used the music is continually fascinating, as he switches the focus between dancers. The work continues some luscious pas de deux but with no way of identifying the dancers until I could access the ADC website after the performance, it’s impossible to credit the dancers.

Although promoted as the major work in the program, Hofesh Shechter’s Cult, although energetic, even spectacular at times, proved something of an anti-climax. Much shorter than both of the other works and with a similar driving sound-track as Alterum, the demanding work seemed under-rehearsed compared to the others, particularly for the three red dressed women who were often out of time with each other and needed more attention to the detail of the hand movements.

Never-the-less, Three offered a tantalising introduction to this company and its six superb dancers.  Just a shame we didn’t know who they were.

Choreographers: Melanie Lane, Jack Lister and Hofesh Shechter | Performers: Chase Clegg-Robinson, Tyrel Dulvarie, Harrison Elliott, Lonii Garnons-Williams, Lilly King and Jack Lister

Australasian Dance Collective: THREE
Canberra Theatre – Canberra Theatre Centre, Civic Square, Canberra
Performances: 24 & 25 June 2022

Image: Melanie Lane’s Alterum – photo by David Kelly

Review: Bill Stephens OAM