Gather – Meet Up Performance

Ql2-Gather-Puffer-photo-by-Lorna-SimsThis evening of dance by youth dance companies from around the country is the culmination of a four-day festival, Meet Up – a biennial event hosted by QL2 at the Gorman Arts Centre in Canberra.

This year, in addition to Canberra’s QL2 Dance, five companies participated representing four Australian states and territories. The works presented in this showcase were the results of four days of intensive collaboration between young people and professional dance artists.

The program commenced with a beautifully choreographed contemporary Aboriginal piece entitled Connection. No choreographer was attributed so presumably it was the work of the two dancers, Jahna Lugnan and Julia Villaflor, who charmed with the graceful unison movement.

Eight dancers from the NSW Illawarra Coast Company, Austi Dance and Physical Theatre, wearing loose multi-coloured costumes, offered a work called Move Me choreographed by Timothy Farr in collaboration with the dancers.

Working with a soundtrack on which the dominant sound suggested zippers, the work combined impressive unison and free-form moves to suggest constant shifting, packing and unpacking.

Caitlin Comerford worked with helium balloons and five dancers from the Launceston company, Stompin, to create a light-hearted, free form work entitled Tethered which explored how balloons challenged the way the dancers moved.

Gabrielle Rose made imaginative use of puffer jackets and hoodies to create an energetic work appropriately entitled Puffer for the Bega dance company, Fling Physical Theatre, while QL2 Dance doyen, Ruth Osborne, with the assistance of Stephen Gow, featured nine of her dancers, resplendent in orange and grey costumes, to offer a subtle warning against excessive use of mobile phones with her work, Shared Language which incorporated an original soundtrack composed by Adam Ventoura.

Catapult Dance Choreographic Hub from Newcastle was represented by seven dancers from its Flipside Project who performed a work choreographed by Alexandra Ford entitled Conversations From The Other Day which utilised Olafur Arnalds fascinating composition, Everything Must Change, to explore contemporary gender issues.

The final work on the program, and certainly a high light of the evening, was performed by seventeen dancers from Yellow Wheel in Melbourne, who offered a cleverly constructed abstract work entitled The Dancing Fever of 1518, choreographed by Kyall Shanks with Jacqui Maida, to the tantalising NY Lipps Dries Van Notes 2020 Remix by Soulwax and Nancy Whang.

As entertaining as it was as a showcase for youth dance, Gather also provided an impressive demonstration of the strength and variety of youth dance practice throughout the country as well as an engaging reminder of the opportunities it provides for self-expression and creativity for the young practitioners who embrace it.

Gather – Meet Up Performance
Playhouse – Canberra Theatre Centre, Civic Square, London Circuit, Canberra
Performance: Monday 10 July 2023

Image: Puffer – photo by Lorna Sim

Review: Bill Stephens OAM