Reviews/Dance/Fringe World Festival

Shiny immersion

14 February 2020

Nina Levy enjoys the shimmering combination of art installation and dance in In Cahoots.

Review: April Vardy and Hannah Laurent, In Cahoots ·
Paper Mountain, 13 February 2020 ·
Review by Nina Levy ·

There’s a silvery, shimmery quality to In Cahoots, a short contemporary dance work that explores an art installation of the same title.

A collaboration between two emerging local artists – choreographer and dancer April Vardy and photographer Hannah Laurent – the work is immersive, in that the audience sits along the walls on either side of Paper Mountain’s long, narrow exhibition space.

On the walls above the audience, Laurent’s photographs, layered compositions in muted colours, play with the concept of reflection. The theme is echoed in the mirrors and vessels of delicately tinted water that intersperse the images. Overhead, drapes of sheer, opaline fabric complete the effect, while silver mannequins at the far end of the space add a touch of ethereal humour.

Into this gently glimmering world come three dancers (Vardy, with Lilly King and Meg Scheffers), who stand, statuesque, in the slice of space between the audience. On opening night it’s steamy in the un-airconditioned upstairs gallery, lending an extra sheen to the dancers’ skin that conveniently matches the work’s aesthetic.

Created by Perth-based composer Louis Frére-Harvey, the electronic soundscape is soothing, even nostalgic, with more than a hint of 90s chillout. As the pace picks up, the dancers roll and pause, gather and run, providing a welcome rush of air as they streak past. Though uncomfortable, the heat and the narrowness of the space add a pleasing intensity to the work.

Intense but not too serious. In keeping with the silver mannequins, there’s homage to disco in the music mix, and in the dancers’ vogue-style pauses and quivering fingers.

As the sounds of water – trickling and splashing – infiltrate the soundscape, the mood shifts again and the movement becomes circling, meditative. The dancers kneel, sway, recline, before wending their way among the silver mannequins and into darkness.

There’s a delightful tranquillity to the work, evoked by the installation, the score and the choreography, as well as the cast’s calm but compelling performance.

Running at perhaps 30 minutes, In Cahoots is a short but sweet immersion in a shiny, sheeny place.

The Fringe World work, In Cahoots, continues at Paper Mountain until 15 February 2020.
The accompanying exhibition is also open until 15 February 2020.

In Cahoots dancers, from left, Lilly King, April Vardy and Meg Scheffers in the narrow gallery space of Paper Mountain. Photo: Hannah Laurent

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Author —
Nina Levy

Nina Levy has worked as an arts writer and critic since 2007. She co-founded Seesaw and has been co-editing the platform since it went live in August 2017. As a freelancer she has written extensively for The West Australian and Dance Australia magazine, co-editing the latter from 2016 to 2019. Nina loves the swings because they take her closer to the sky.

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