22 May 2013
By Lucy Wilson
Before it began with a hand held 'chandelier' of brass bells, all I knew about Opal Vapour was its evocative title and that it was some kind of Javanese dance piece. It was also the opening night of a Mobile States and Salamanca Arts Centre presentation, which I had no hesitation attending. I relished the thought of it, as they consistently tour diverse and explorative top and contemporary Australian work.
The core creators of this piece are Jade Dewi Tyas Tunggal, the dancer, Ria Soemardjo, the musician – who both have Australian/Javanese ancestry – and Paula Van Beek who did the lighting. It was minimal in set. It was short (50minutes). It was sublime. And it was at times quite ordinary.
But the sublime was sublime: in a physical, metaphysical, aesthetic, spiritual and artistic way. When the three elements of sound, dance and light came together and moved as one we witnessed something mesmeric. It had a quality to transport the audience to a sacred space, a primal and sensual cocoon, to a deeply pure and female embrace.
We saw a compelling interplay between the dancer moving on a large light box covered with sand and the projected image of her above on soft wavering blue. We heard a layering of delicate soft and deep pink sounds. Something was mirrored in us from the lightness and beauty of our once embryonic existence.
While the music sustained its entrancing allure throughout the piece, there were sections when the dance and lighting were more traditional in form, which seemed quite two-dimensional in contrast to the other heightened sensuality. That’s not to say there weren’t moments when familiar stylisation of Javanese dance was breath taking, like the theatrical detail of an exquisitely spot lit hand moving in curling and unfurling fingers.
While noting the contrast from the sublime to the not so sublime parts of the show, I whole-heartedly urge you to see this show as the experience is a gift. Last show is tonight (Friday 24 May) at 8pm.