Monday 18 November 2019

Common Dissonance - Circus Review

What: Common Dissonance
When: 14 - 17 November 2019
Where: Melba Spiegeltent
Directed by: Harley Mann
Performed by: Isabelle Champagne-Chittick and Harley Mann
Harley Mann and Isabelle Champagne-Chittick
In a post-truth era, when perspectival truths and logical positivism can and do co-exist, Na Djinang Circus has created Common Dissonance. A circus/dance duet, Common Dissonance was presented at The Melba Spiegeltent as part of the 2019 'Sidesault Festival' by Circus Oz.

Common Dissonance begins as a creation story with the lighting of fire and the birthing of a man and woman who learn to live and laugh together through dance and acrobatics. The man (Mann) finds his strength and manhood in a glorious rope routine combining strength and beauty, and when he returns from his journey he courts his woman (Champagne-Chittick) with a peacock show of skill and flare with the diabolo. He then paints his story with ashy remains from the sparks created at the start of time.

But then a crack emerges and happiness is torn asunder as the woman cuts the diabolo chord. Invasion day? The music changes from delicate strings and didgeridoo (very reminiscent of music by Peter Sculthorpe) to a modern, heavy, dangerous beat. Love turns into abuse and the man (metaphoricallly) beats the woman to the ground.

Champagne-Chittick expresses her pain and confusion in a world turned upside down with a powerful aerial trapeze act at which point Mann returns and there is a realisation of what has been lost and an understanding that it can only be found again by working together. The sounds of indigenous singing reminds them to return to their roots to find healing. The man and woman struggle through another complex acrobatics routine as they don traditional body paint and work together to build something new and delicate whilst struggling to find ways to support and work with each other as they jump around and cling as if coming apart again will mean they will lose each other forever.

Common Dissonance is a beautiful, insightful, and meaningful dance/circus show and I have to say it is one of the few truly cohesively conceived and produced works I have seen in a while now. The ideas flow, the performers work together in harmony and trust which is surprisingly rare, and the production elements all contribute together to tell this story with magnificence. The sound track is phenomenal and the lighting design is probably the best I have ever seen in any Spiegeltent show and on many traditional stages as well!

I honestly can't think of a single thing which could be done better or more aesthetically. The choreography is fun and playful or powerful and strong as needed and with just the right amount - not too little to tell the story of this complex relationship and not too much so that I was bored and silently willing them to move on.

Common Dissonance is world class. The season has finished now, but if you get the chance to see it in other festivals make sure you don't miss it. I will be surprised if this does not travel the world.

5 Stars

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