If you haven’t been to an Expressions Dance Company (EDC) show, you are missing some of the most evocative performances in Brisbane; even if dance is not your ‘thing’, actually, especially if dance is not your thing.
Under the Artistic Direction of Natalie Weir, EDC is a group of supremely talented physical performers, who manipulate bodies and space to awaken our very human states of existence. Propel is an initiative designed by Weir and EDC to provide emerging choreographers a platform to develop their work with a professional team. EDC premiered their 2017 showcase of four works on Friday at the Judith Wright Centre (The Judy) to rousing applause.
The cinematic Hollow Lands opened the evening – a response by choreographer Lisa Wilson to Etta Lilienthal vivid light sculpture, Through Hollow Lands. The light structure (recreated by Ben Hughes for the performance) was used to stunning effect on the darkened stage – the sizzling, neon-light labyrinth blinking in and out of existence bringing to mind the feeling of displacement created by films such as Blade Runner. Wilson uses it to convey the internal landscape where we find ourselves at the brink of existence, with the dancers reacting to and teasing the shifting barriers of light, almost like neuro blockers that hinder their way forward. The structure creates a feeling of overwhelming size and complexity while at the same time feeling fragile and impermanent.
Written on the Body created by EDC favourite and newly appointed Assistant to the Artistic Director, Elise May physically explores the way that we change through connections with other. May has a strong interest in multimedia, using projected images and lighting design to enhance the emotional plane of her work. Dancers affect each other through causal encounters, moments that highlight the sheer strength of newcomer Jake McLarnon as the tall male performer is seemingly as light as air as he is moulded around his much smaller partner. McLarnon also shines in a moment where his lower half is masked beneath a billowing sheet of striking red silk reminiscent of the distinct thread of colour in classic Chinese film; only his upper body is seen as it moves and fills the flying folds of fabric.
Waiting Alone by visiting Chinese Choreographer Xu Yiming (via EDC’s Chinese Australian Dance Exchange Project), is a work that seems a little more traditional in terms of Western ‘dance’ and theatre. A solo dancer, the sublime Richard Causer, dressed in an imperfect black suit explores the period of directionless we all experience in life. Set to ‘Moonlight Sonata’ by Beethoven and using only the powdery black space of the stage, the work was bare emotion and Causer held the crowd in silent awe.
The final piece, Deeper than Ink (choreographer Amy Hollingsworth) uses the full troupe to explore the irreparable effects of deep love – the kind that is tattooed on your soul. Costume design for this piece (Alana Sargent) created tattoo-like embellishment on the ‘nude’ body suits of the dancers. As the final piece of the evening, this work gets your blood rushing with pulsing music and a compelling ensemble arrangement.
The EDC dancers are a powerful mix of artist, performer, and extreme athlete. The way they move their bodies both individually and together as one entity never ceases to astound; feats of circus worthy awe encased in moments so refined that you don’t want to rupture it with applause. They are truly a remarkable group. Support the next generation of choreographers and see Propel showing at the Judy until March 11.