Friday 15 March 2019

Le Dernier Appel/The Last Cry - Dance Review

What: Le Dernier Appel/The Last Cry
When: 14 - 17 March 2019
Where: Cobblestone Pavillion, Meat Market
Directed by: Serge Aime Coulibaly
Choreographed by: Serge Aime Coulibaly and Dalis Pigram
Composed by: Ngaiire, Bree Van Reyk and Nick Wales
Performed by: Amrita Hepi, Stanley Nalo, Krilin Nguyen, Yoan Ouchot, Dalisa Pigram and Miranda Wheen
Set by: Nicolas Mole
Costumes by: Mirabelle Wouters
Lighting by: Matt Marshall
Kilin Nguyen, Dalisa Pigram, Stanley Nalo, Yoan Ouchot, Amrita Hepi and Miranda Wheen - photo by Prudence Upton
Le Dernier Appel/The Last Cry is a blockbuster. It is a battle. It is a battle cry. This last battle cry is ringing across the cobblestones and into the hearts of the world at the Meat Market this week as part of Dance Massive. Watch, listen and then act!

Marrugeku is an Australian indigenous dance company based in the Western top end of Australia. Formed in 1994 to create Mimi, the company has gone from strength to strength wowing audiences with powerful works addressing contemporary conversations about heritage, history and colonisation.

Whilst Marrugeku is a company of contemporary dancers, they appear to have really found their style and mojo in the hip hop tradition. This makes sense. Whilst hip hop is considered to be an American flavoured style of dance there have been descriptions of power moves by indigenous dancers across the globe as far back as 1877.

As well as incorporating breaking, popping and locking into an overall contemporary lyrical dance motif, Marrugeku fully embrace the attitude of hip hop, the heartland of dance battles. Marrugeku challenge us, the audience, to take them on - to see and hear them. They bring it and they bring it hard!

What is it they are bringing in The Last Cry? They bring warning. They bring prophecy. They bring help.

Taking inspiration (and urgency) from the struggles for independence in New Caledonia and linking this to the struggles of indigenous peoples across the Southern Hemisphere - but also across the world as a whole - The Last Cry screams at us to act before it is too late. The world is burning. There is hope, but we must include the wisdoms and learnings of civilisations who grew and developed in the lands taken by European colonists.

There is an intriguing synergy between the New Caledonian situation and the one in Australia. New Caledonia was colonised by the French (perhaps the only thing worse than being colonised by the English...) and it's economy is propped up by mining. The colonisers disenfranchised the native population (the Kanaks) and, even if you accept the current agreements in place to ensure a fair go at independence, have ensured a process which excludes around 35% of the population from voting on that independence. The one true thing history has shown us about colonial powers is they love to rape the land and the people and will create any barrier necessary to avoid freeing either.

The outstandingly talented performers pop, lock, drop and dance their way through the enforced muteness of people who need to be heard. They cry and cry and cry out again. They tear at each other in frustration and despair. They give up, they get up, and they go again and again and again and again.

The one hour show which is Le Dernier Appel/The Last Cry is long but it is also incredibly electrifying. I found my body literally being pulled forward as if drawn by a magnet as the pace and power built in both the incredible sound track created by Wales, Van Reyk and Ngaiire and the defiant and demanding dance created by Coulibaly and Pigram.

As well as the overall affect of a show which viscerally reveals a world burning, there is an ensemble of virtuosic dancers. Everybody was amazing and it is perhaps wrong to pick anyone out but I have to say Nguyen's dropping defies gravity, and Ouchot can pop like nobody's business!

Le Dernier Appel/The Last Cry only has a short season, finishing on Sunday. I beg you not to miss it. It is de bomb!

5 Stars

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