CO_LAB: 24

ADP Co Lab 24 Melanie Lane Alison Plevey Sara Black Alex Voorhoeve photo by Lorna SimAusdance ACT’s 2024 Australian Dance Week got off to a stimulating start with the premiere performance of Co_Lab:24, an experimental dance exploration work especially commissioned by the Canberra Theatre Centre’s New Works program and Australian Dance Party.

Australian Dance Party leader, Alison Plevey, and ADP member, Sara Black, together with guest dance artist, Melanie Lane joined forces with cellist Alex Voorhoeve, Art Music Award winner, Sia Ahmad and visual artist, Nicci Haynes, to create this collaborative experimental work.

The work was performed on a huge rectangular black tarkett dance floor with the audience seated on a single line of chairs arranged around the four walls of the courtyard studio. Musicians, Alex Voorhoeve and Sia Ahmad were seated at each end of the floor, with visual artist Nicci Haynes seated to one side, each surrounded by their instruments and paraphernalia.

As the lights dimmed the three dancers took up positions on the floor and when the sounds commenced each began reacting with individual broad athletic movements.

Alex Voorhoeve plays both electronic and standard modified cello. Although a trained classical musician he is particularly drawn to exploring the tonal possibilities of these instruments. Similarly Sia Ahmad works with electronic gadgetry and her own vocals to produce her abstract soundscapes.

Working together they spontaneously produced an extraordinary soundscape to which the dancers either responded, or sometimes inspired, either individually or working in pairs or trios.

A third element was introduced with a large rectangle of light projected from above into which Nicci Haynes created a kaleidoscope of colourful images utilising an array of unusual objects. As the dancers moved through these images their bodies became constantly changing mobile artworks.

The work contained no storyline, the sounds no melody, however there was fascination in watching six accomplished artists sharing their individual skills to push boundaries in an attempt to create a memorable experience for each member of their audience.

Particularly memorable for this viewer were the final images with Plevey and Voorhoeve alone in the spotlight. After responding to the resonant sounds of Voorhoeve’s cello, Plevey left him alone in the spotlight. He continued to play on, but as the light slowly faded to blackout, he gradually slumped over his cello, as if signalling exhaustion from the creativity.

CO_LAB: 24
Courtyard Studio – Canberra Theatre Centre, Civic Square, Canberra
Performance: Monday 29 April 2024
Season continues to 1 May 2024

For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Melanie Lane, Alison Plevey, Sara Black and Alex Voorhoeve (rear) – photo by Lorna Sim

Review: Bill Stephens OAM