Sunday, July 25, 2010

Heart Matters

Theatre Royal
Friday 23 July 2010

By Lucy Wilson Magnus

The heart of Tasdance’s premier, heart matters, beats from the orchestra pit, where the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Kenneth Young, sat in relative darkness. It’s no surprise that Artistic Director Annie Greig’s dream to collaborate with the TSO was the seed for this production.

The first of two pieces, Racing Heart by choreographer Chrissie Parrott, was about love. It showed a love that was colourful, busy, delicate and juicy. The dancers wore the colour, in what looked like silk, and sometimes in the perpetually fast movement I caught words written across their buttocks: THOUGHT, CARNIVAL and HEART. Colour also flooded in from a large screen animation by Jonathan Mustard, with more words about love. From where I was sitting I couldn’t see the screen without putting my head on my knees, but perhaps that didn’t matter, as its light provided a vibrant glow to illuminate the bodies – which was enough.

Composer Constantine Koukias was commissioned for the piece and created a score with repetition and poise, where the timbre of the strings filled the Theatre Royal. It was at the end of the dance, when a lone figure, the ever-watchable Trisha Dunn, was silhouetted with the vibrant light descended behind her, that the work finally found resonance with me.

The second piece Forty Miles – a river of dreams by Graeme Murphy, was inspired by his late father’s poem The Tamar Valley; and the opportunity to work with Tasdance was a creative Tasmanian homecoming for him. This piece took on what I regard as a perilous challenge – to emulate nature. Nature does itself so well. It’s very difficult to do it justice on a black stage. And while Leon Krasenstein’s set tried, the literalism unfortunately worked against what the publicity blurb espoused as “…free(ing) the poetic forces locked within our hearts”.

I was, however, drawn into the dance. The duet by Joel Corpuz and Floeur Alder had an unusual but compelling force of interacting strength and fragility. I later learnt that Floeur Alder had been very ill the lead up to opening night, and hence their performance showed great heart.

The TSO again pumped the domed ceiling of the theatre, this time with Carl Vine’s composition, including a nimble escalating flow of violin by soloist Jun Yi Ma.

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