Thursday, 21 March 2019

Nightdance - Dance Review

What: Nightdance
When: 21 - 24 March 2019
Where: Cobblestone Pavilion, Meat Market
Choreographed by: Melanie Lane
Composition by: Chris Clark
Performed by: Benjamin Hancock, Melanie Lane, Gregory Lorenzutti, Ryan Ritchie, Sidney Saayman, and Lilian Steiner
Lighting by: Bosco Shaw
Lilian Steiner Melanie Lane, Ryan Ritchie and Gregory Lorenzutti - photo by Bryony Jackson
Taking us down a surreal wormhole into the sensual and sexy atmosphere of underground European nightclubs, Nightdance is a visceral journey into another realm. First presented by Arts House in 2017, we have been given the opportunity to re-indulge in this year's Dance Massive festival and it is a gift which keeps on giving.

The brainchild of choreographer Lane, she has gathered together some of the most intriguing and adventurous masters of their art to create a dream scape of bodies, light and sound/music which celebrates, blurs and denies the lines between watcher and watched, entertainer and the entertained. In concert with a stunning soundscape (Clark), bodies and light ebb and flow, throb and pulse across the stage and around each other. Passion is always just a heart beat away. The orgy is always the potential but Nightdance is only the promise. It is up to us to finish - if we dare!

Nightdance begins in what appears to be a very traditional contemporary dance set up. Three bodies (Steiner, Lorenzutti, and Lane) in a sparsely lit space. They start to move...slowly...as if awakening from a long sleep. They come together as if huddling for warmth and comfort. And then the show starts.

The lights come up - a fascinating grid of downlights which work in a never ending array of combinations - and the three dancers power across the stage in a spray of performance intention and power. The next twenty minutes is a study in movement history. Controlled, powerful, and hypnotic each of them weave their way individually and yet in concert through styles such as muscleman, capoiera, Indonesian dance, and many more. Shaw creates random black outs which give us the sensation of photographs being taken which amps up the sense of the dancers being the subject of a voyeuristic gaze, creating a visual interpretation of music 'breaks' which ease the hypnotic potential much like how club music works but inverting the paradigm.

Just when boredom might set in for the audience there is a change. The dancers begin to pay more attention to each other. They watch each other in enjoyment, the pleasure becoming something they must share with themselves. Just as the sexual tension begins to emerge another shift.

This becomes the pattern for the evening's entertainment. A constant shift between entertaining us, being entertained by each other, and entertaining the self.

As I said earlier, Nightdance is a nightclub and it includes all of the fabulous elements. Apart from a brilliant trance dance scene with throbbing lights, the shadow play of which once more steals the performers attentions, there is an array of guest artists who wend their way dreamily through this surreal landscape - half there, half not there.

Co-creator Hancock takes our breath away as they explore an earlier incarnation, Partially Here. Decked out head to foot (including covered face) in a gold body suit they explore the body as object, constantly organising and reorganising their body as a shape to be admired in that very burlesque mode until again, they become obsessed with enjoying the self and slipping out of the frame.

Ritchie slips into the frame like a modern day Tony Bennett, emerging from the audience like all nightclub singers. Dressed in a white tux but sounding more like Tom Waites, Ritchie meanders around the stage, crooning in a fashion which sounds something like a 45 rpm record being played at 33 rpm. There is a large spotlight for him which he ignores. He has backup dancers (Steiner and Lane) but their rythmic clicks deny their obsession with Lorenzutti who has become a dark caped figure of menace and intrigue. Ritchie dissolves away as the dream moves forward.

The other guest is Saayman who comes into the trance dance scene as a human lazer show. Part Robocop, part exotic male dancer, Saayman blasts his lazers around the stage and auditorium before becoming transfixed himself and descending into a narcissistic hole of self addiction.

Nightdance is a dream, but the dream is real and the dream is us. There is always a line and we cross it all the time, and then cross it again and again and again. The question always hanging in the air is can we come back or will we step over it one day never to return?

Every element of Nightdance is perfectly concieved and perfectly executed. The dancers have a beauty and control of their bodies which is mesmerizing and every creative contributor is demonstrating work at the peak of their powers. Do not miss this show!

5 Stars

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