Friday, March 18, 2011
You’re ushered carefully into a very dark space. You are offered sake (or tea, the choice is yours) in a small white cup. You are led to a seat in the circle of chairs in the centre of the dark space (or, if you are unlucky/lucky?, further away, in a line along the raised stage). You are seated. You are a part of a boundary, a threshold, a mark against the space. You are part of what might occur.
Upstairs at Arthouse, above the Sunstruck watchers, dancers on film loop over and over, not caring whether an audience is there. Are they different to ‘live’ dancers, or do audiences just want to believe that dancers mind whether we are there? We want the work to be about us, about communication with us, about connection, but what if it isn’t? What if it is only for the performers? And would we know/feel the difference anyway?
Some of these niggling questions are alleviated when we watch dance on film. We’re not confronted with breathing bodies, so it is perhaps easier to detach and to simply watch the work before us, and not to get caught up in the pseudophilosophical concerns about relationships between the performing bodies and watching bodies.
Other than this, what is the defining difference between dance on film and dance on a stage?
I love the idea behind this work. I love it so much I can barely express it. I’m obsessed with its poetry and its possibility.
There’s nothing cryptic about the title: Flynn and Humphrey fill an empty room with soundscape and lights, and invite you to people it with your own imagined dancers. This invitation is, for me, so overflowing with potential that I almost couldn’t breathe when I first sat down on the long, low, white bench in the white room.
But the execution of this idea is so poor that I left the experience feeling furious with disappointment.
Helen Herbertson and Ben Cobham
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.