|Carlee Mellow. Image by Igor Sapina.|
Although solo may not be the best way to describe it. While Mellow was the only body on stage, Expectation was really a three-hander with the lightening design of Bluebottle and the sound score (which loops in the live sounds from stage) by Kelly Ryall. Expectation sat closer to the realm of dance theatre than contemporary dance, if you are into such distinctions.
It was concerned with mood, light and perception and most significantly, a constantly shifting spatial perspective on Mellow’s body doing oddly compelling things. She tottered around with what looked like a paper bag on her head; she levitated feet first up a wall; she danced a tight, muscly dance bathed in a red glow. All these physicalizations were very far away or very close. They felt either highly intimate or rather impersonal and some of them were truly bizarre. Bluebottle’s exceptional use of the huge auditorium-like space and the live cackles, tinkles, pin-dropping and crinkling sounds that filtered through Ryall’s score created a distinct sensation of unnerve and disorientation. Mellow peppered her closely-held energy and her raw, guttural utterances with glimpses of sensuality, but she never revealed too much.
Expectation had echoes of pieces like Helen Herbertson’s Morphia Series and Disagreeable Object by Michelle Heaven where the excitement of the works was in both the constant surprise of changing atmospheric states and the commitment of the artists to traverse unhinged places. It’s no surprise that Bluebottle has designed all of these projects - their dexterity with light and stage design is consistently phenomenal.
With its collection of unrelated and unsettling vignettes and crystal clear design, Expectation was not easy to interpret, but was, none-the-less, mesmorizing and disconcerting from start to finish. Mellow has the sensibility of a theatre maker with the foundations of a dancer. It’s no wonder that, with her highest-calibre collaborators, she conceived a unique experience that both delivered and undercut expectation.
Arts House, North Melbourne Town Hall
9 - 14 November 2010