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Reviews/Dance

Tiny fragments of the future?

7 May 2021

The pleasure of watching STRUT Dance’s annual “Short Cuts” program, says Nina Levy, is that you never know when you’re going to see the beginnings of something special.

‘Short Cuts’ Program A, STRUT Dance ·
Studio 3, King Street Arts Centre, 6 May 2021 ·

What happens when you give dance artists 20 hours in a studio?

That’s what “Short Cuts”, STRUT Dance’s annual season of short dance works, reveals. The season is an opportunity for independent choreographers and dancers to experiment with new ideas and present the results to an audience.

As such it’s typically a mixed bag; but you never know when you’re going to see the seedlings of something destined to grow much bigger. A tiny fragment of Emma Fishwick’s 2021 Perth Festival work Slow Burn, Together, for example, was once presented at “Short Cuts”.

As is traditional, this year’s season is divided into two hour-long programs, six works apiece, presented in King Street Arts Centre’s largest dance studio. Opening Program A, is For Your Eyes Only, choreographed by 2020 Link Dance Company graduate Brent Rollins and danced by Natassija Morrow and Macon Escobal Riley.

Set to beat driven electronic music peppered with scratches, beeps and static (strangely ubiquitous in the 2021 “Short Cuts” season), this duo sees the dancers navigate a twisting and spiralling path through space; bouncing figuratively and literally off one another. It’s pleasing viewing although the movement material could have been edited for public presentation.

Choreographed by Storm Helmore, It’s.All.Been.Done.Before was my favourite of Program A (and possibly of the whole season). This playful duet escapes being overly sweet, in part because the bird song in the score is underwritten by nostalgic guitar (“Burwood Heights Convenience” by Andrew Tuttle), but also because dancers Yilin Kong and Scott Galbraith perform with a restraint that creates subtle but highly enjoyable physical comedy.

Sarah Chaffey’s Tease is next, a teetering trio that starts in heels so high and stacked that they seem more like stilts than shoes. The shoes give movement a hoof-like quality that’s intriguing but when the women discard them, the work loses its tension. Nonetheless, it’s an interesting concept and one worthy of further exploration.

Kimberley Parkin’s self-devised solo Nightmares in Wax, about an experience of sleep paralysis, follows, taking us into a dark tangle of bedsheets and palpitations that’s highly relatable for anyone familiar with the terrors of the dreaming mind and body.

Dancers stand in a line, pointing in different directions. They are framed by a circle of concrete, painted yellow.
A still from ‘Point Street’ by Ashleigh White reveals a car park as a surprisingly rewarding space.

A portable screen is wheeled out for Ashleigh White’s dance film Point Street. Shot at Point Street car park in Fremantle with five dancers, the film is an exploration of what is revealed to be a surprisingly rewarding space as the dancers flit in and out of view like gelato coloured birds. Like many works across the two programs, however, it could benefit from further editing and, potentially, from being viewed on a better quality screen.

Wrapping up Program A is Doppler, by Kynan Hughes, described as “a study on trauma and disruption”. Danced by two hooded men (Scott Galbraith and Nathan Turtur), the almost slow-motion quality of the movement put me in the mind of the 1999 film The Matrix, perhaps exacerbated by the cinematic quality of the score (“NCPD Drawl” by Marcin Przbylowicz). Framed by a kind of gestural embrace, it is these opening and closing sections that are most compelling.

Though several works would benefit from editing, “Short Cuts” Program A reveals that there are plenty of promising ideas amongst Perth independent choreographers.

Read the review of “Short Cuts” Program B.

“Short Cuts” Programs A and B run until Saturday 8 May 2021.

Pictured top is Kimberley Parkin performing in her work ‘Nightmares in Wax’. Photo: Mitchell Aldridge.

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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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