Friday, March 18, 2011


Helen Herbertson and Ben Cobham
Dance Massive

The ephemeral can leave a lasting resonance. So it is with Sunstruck, a dance performance full of fleeting moments of exquisite beauty and infinite feeling.

This is dance stripped back to the moment, conjured from seemingly nothing: an empty stage; one light; two dancers; no costumes or props; a violin and cello for the score. The audience is seated in the round, containing the performance, holding it, strange silhouettes that perimeter the landscape and bound the empty space that both defines and restrains the performance.

The staging is deceptively empty, but it is the emptiness that first draws us in; the nothingness is alive with possibility. Dancers Trevor Patrick and Nick Sommerville slowly inhabit the stark space and we are drawn with them into the deprivation: a cry in the dark, a strangled laugh, a careful word, an unfolding of movement as they investigate the space and each other, pushed and pulled by the orbiting light, the dark, the haunting notes of the violin and cello that seem to pluck them as strings, and the uniqueness of moment that activates their imagination.

It is a seduction by movement, gesture, rhythm, sound, atmosphere and a slow-burning intimacy. We see each moment full, if fleeting, and cannot escape the feeling or the experience; we are part of it, it has permeated as if we too are rising and falling with the fluidity of the dance. We are immersed; at the end of the performance, no-one wants to break from the dark, the emptiness, the quiet captivation that has overtaken.

All things are evolving from, or devolving toward, nothingness. But in this constant state of dissolution and inauguration, there is a place rich and alive with imagination, emotion and experience; and it is at the evanescent intersection between stillness and movement, dark and light, absence and longing, where we are all Sunstruck.

Wendy Newton

Attendance at Dance Massive (Melbourne) was made possible through the arts@work Critical Acclaim program. Critical Acclaim is an arts@work (Arts Tasmania) professional development program aimed at increasing the breadth of critical discourse and discussion in both the arts industry and the public arena.

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