Thursday, June 21, 2012

Keep Everything

Choreographer Antony Hamilton is in the throes of a prolific period with more to come. In the past year  we have seen Drift in Dance Massive that had audiences riding in a car to a deserted area of the Docklands and watching the performance from inside the vehicle. This year Arts House presented Clouds Above Berlin which featured his duet Black Project 1 (read more from me about that here) and now Chunky Move has produced his new full length work Keep Everything. On top of this he has just received an impressive Australia Council Fellowship. Go Antony!

Hamilton has a distinct style, but his works feel vastly different from each other. There's a consistent  aesthetic but not necessarily a single formula to the pieces. His interests are wide reaching - visual arts, including graffiti culture, theatre processes that rely on slowing evolving patterns or dynamics and  movement that doesn't travel much through space and often has rhythmic and visual elements of popping and locking.

Action shot from Keep Everything.
Photo by Jeff Busby. 

Keep Everything is a series of random and bizarre scenarios merged together (described in the program as derived from stream of conscious activity.) The choreography is not so much "dance"  as movement and posturing that evokes oddity and grotesqueries. Robotic is a word that keeps springing to mind, not because the physicality itself is particularly angular or geometric, but because it feels depersonalised and aloof.  The most impressive thing about it is the dancers' - Benjamin Hancock, Lauren Langlois and Alisdair Macindoe - abilities to fully inhabit and commit to it. The challenge is not in performing steps (in fact the small sequences that are "pure movement" are the least interesting.)  It is in the postural, vocal, physical transformations of the bodies that intrigue.
Lauren Langlois, Benjamin Hancock and Alisdair Macindoe in
Keep Everything. Photo by Jeff Busby. 

Where all this goes...I'm really not sure. Keep Everything ties together through its use of props (a stage strewn with colourful felt and foam scraps) and lighting design from Ben Cisterne that situates the action in a deep, wide cube punctuated with heavy smoke effects - kinda sci-fi, kinda clubby. In the program Hamilton talks about humans' desire to organize and contextualise everything. That's his impetus for the show's actions.

Personally, I can find elements that entertain or strike a chord and I can see the deliberation and pathways at play. I can contextualize it within Hamilton's work or within the Melbourne contemporary dance scene, but as a whole work in and of itself, it's not easy to wrap up in any sort of package (and maybe it doesn't need to be.) It is more a case of individual inspired and bizarre moments that entertain executed by consistently committed dancers. For some audiences, that will be a complete journey in and of itself. For others (and I admit I fall into this category), it may feel like a bunch of interesting detours that never finds its final destination.

Click here for my review of Keep Everything in the Herald Sun on 19 June 2012.

Keep Everything
Chunky Move Studios
14 - 23 June 2012

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