Friday, 29 March 2019

Moments - Dance Review

What: Moments
When: 28 - 30 March 2019
Where: Studio Theatre, Gasworks
Choreographed by: Madeline Pratt
Musical direction by: Antoinette Davis
Performed by: Joanna Bakker, Rachel Beard, Morgan Dooley-Axup, Logan Hodgetts, Olivia Lucas, Michaela Pace, Annie Parish, Nicola Pohl, Sam Rash, Cynthia Sacco
Lighting by: Jack Wilkinson
Michaela Page
Melbourne is a city obsessed with experimental and avant-garde dance so it is a delightful surprise to come across a full scale dance production in the more pop dance mode of lyrical contemporary and for it to be strong rather than twee. If you head to Gasworks tonight (because it is only on for one more night) for Moments you too will have the chance to see this suprising - if still a little rough - gem.

Pratt (choreographer) is a classically trained dancer and teacher as well as having completed the Federation University musical theatre course which means she is also well versed in jazz, tap, etc. With such a broad spectrum of traditional dance forms at her finger tips, in Moments Pratt puts them all together with her theatre training to create what I found myself thinking of as a dance opera.

Pratt draws from ballet, jazz and tap whilst leaning most heavily into lyrical contemporary to tell her story, and with the help of physical theatre director Ebony McGeady weaves a complex and mature narrative on life being as series of moments which stay with us as we travel through them.

Moments is a celebration but it is also a cautionary tale and a cry of despair. 9 young dancers weave around each other in crowds, minding their own business until an accidental bump leads to love and loss. Moment by moment, dancer by dancer, sometimes as duets, sometimes as whole group events, we see love, lust, awkwardness, betrayal, death, and so much more.

The show shies away from none of it. I was wondering if it would become too full but Pratt has crafted this show to surprise and it takes us on a journey full of laughter and tears, romance and despair...and pain. So much pain. The #metoo segement is powerful story telling indeed.

One of the beautiful aspects of Pratt's choreography is, in such a complex work with such a literal narrative design, she manages to highlight each dancer whilst maintaining a strong sense of ensemble. The dancers are young and still developing core strength and they all need to work on their extensions, but Moments allows each of them a spotlight with significant solos and pas de deux and pas de trois passages.

The Studio Theater is small for an ensemble of this size (plus an upright piano and a drum kit) and the seating isn't raked enough for us to see the chalked messages and drawings on the floor which was a shame. I would love to see this restaged in the main theatre where the dancers have an opportunity to truly fly in their leaps, and not have to worry quite so much about traffic management.

This would also allow the audience to fully experience the ideas of all these moments being carried with them across their journey through life. Dressed in simple black attire, the smudges of chalk which accumulate as they dance through time and space become a powerful statement as they settle into stillness and speak their truths later in the piece.

I want to give a brief shout out to Davis' musical direction too. A really lovely selection of indie pop swirls around in a mosaic of recordings and live performances. Moments has no clear lines. Pohl steps out of the dancing to play the ukelele and sing a torch song at one point and when musician Bakker steps out from behind the piano in #metoo the ensemble really is complete.

I had a little chuckle after the show when I heard someone in the audience say in a surprised voice "I really liked that". You will like it too so head on down to Gasworks tonight. Sell the show out so they are encouraged to give it the space it needs in a restaging!

4 Stars


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