Drawn spellbound into Co3’s zone
DANCE The Zone Co3
Heath Ledger Theatre 9 September REVIEW: NINA LEVY
Paper white walls converge to a point upstage from which puffs of smoke emanate. Abruptly the lights brighten and layers of sound fill the space, resonating through our bodies. Into the hyper-lit void slither black-clad bodies, emerging from hitherto unnoticed cracks in the walls. Wrapped in sound and light, we are, literally and figuratively, in The Zone.
For those who have followed Co3 since its 2015 debut, The Zone feels like a coming-of-age for our State’s flagship contemporary dance company. Artistic director Raewyn Hill has drawn together an outstanding team of artistic collaborators. And so, while the theme — examining the power of humanity to bond together in times of crisis — is not wildly original, every creative element of this work is intricately woven together to make a transforming whole; innovative and sophisticated.
Eleven dancers seep in and out of the set’s permeable walls, cleverly designed by Japanese architect Satoshi Okada. The choreography is intensely physical, as is Hill’s wont. Over 60 minutes the dancers move hard and sweat hard — and their exhilaration is contagious.
It takes place against a rich melee of live and recorded sound, composed (and performed here) by musician Eden Mulholland. On guitar, piano and vocals, Mulholland’s performance — often haunting, occasionally joyous — was intoxicating.
It’s hard to single out highlights. Three dancers (Zachary Lopez, Andrew Searle, Russell Thorpe) roll like waves around one another, the long black skirts of all cast members swirling in sympathy. In pairs, trios and quartets, different combinations of dancers ripple with the slide of Mulholland’s guitar strings, underpinned by a heart-like beat. As one, the dancers repeatedly contract and spring in the air, backs arching. One dancer (Ella-Rose Trew) plies deeply and widely, arms reaching and body circling as though stirring a giant pot of emotion. Another dancer (Tanya Brown) performs a gorgeous solo of casually stepping leg extensions.
Mark Howett’s lighting is that of dawn and dusk, from sunset orange to Arctic blue. Dancing shadows multiply the cast.
Near the end there is just one moment that doesn’t feel quite right. There is palpable joy in the scene, which sees dancers take turns performing solos and duets, cheered on, flamenco style, by their rhythmically clapping fellow cast members. The stark super-bright lighting, however, makes the moment feel over-exposed, distancing the viewer rather than inviting them in.
It’s not a major fault though, and, as a whole, The Zone is high-octane stuff. Mulholland and the 11 dancers are to be congratulated on a captivating performance. Kudos to all — this is festival-level work. Don’t miss it.
The Zone closes 16 September.
The Zone feels like a coming-of-age for Co3.