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Reviews/Dance

Tiny fragments, part 2

7 May 2021

Nina Levy dives into the second program of STRUT Dance’s 2021 “Short Cuts” season.

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

If you’ve arrived here after reading my review of “Short Cuts” Program A, then you’ll know the deal.

Each work on the two “Short Cuts” programs has been created in just 20 hours. In this time local independent choreographers and dancers explore new ideas, presenting the results at a studio showing. It’s an annual event, and in keeping with tradition, this year’s “Short Cuts” season is split across two programs.

2021’s Program B kicks off with I hope my love never finds you, a new offering from interdisciplinary maker Michelle Aitken. Described as “the beginnings of a new work about distant landscapes, ecological grief and the aching paradox of loving something so much that you hope to never touch it,” this work, more than any other on the program, feels like a series of mini-ideas that have not yet been stitched together. Yet there’s something enticing about rainforest musings of the voiceover and the surprising fluidity with which Aitken folds and lunges across the stage accompanied by Moyle’s haunting vocals. If Aitken chooses to develop this work I’ll be keen to see it.

Next up, 2020 Link Dance Company graduates Natassija Morrow and Estelle Brown perform their work This is Henri with original, live electronic composition by Azariah Felton blended with some deconstructed Nat King Cole. Morphing from floating synchronicity to awkward and blank faced pas de deux to beat-driven phrases to slow dance, there’s a lot going on here, as if a full-length work has been compressed into ten minutes. Consequently, like the preceding work, it feels disjointed, even though the component parts are individually engaging and conceptually promising.

The slight absurdity of This is Henri leads pleasantly into the next work, in which we are greeted by two human lampshades. Choreographed and performed by Montserrat Heras and Amelia Sagrabb, whose heads are completely obscured by the aforementioned cane shades, the hip gyrations of Is this a lamp? lead into a light-hearted romp that loses momentum, however, when the head-gear is removed. Hard to say if it’s got the chops to go further, but the concept is a winner.

Program A’s screen returns to the stage for Mitchell Aldridge’s dance film Interstice, in which he dances alongside Macon Escobal Riley. Playing on the idea of interstices – spaces in between – the film sees the pair weaving in and out of the contemporary white archways and spiral staircases of St George’s Cathedral’s Cadogan Song School. In simple mud-coloured sweats and black beanies the dancers look like Gen Z monks, made ghostly as they slip in and out of view. As in Program A’s Point Street, however, it feels like the impact of the film is dwarfed by its being placed in a live performance setting and viewed as a projection.

Friendship and trust are at the heart of Can trust B built from nothing?, choreographed and performed by Talitha Maslin and Lauren Marchbank (whose simple but moving dance film I am okay with it was presented at the 2017 iteration of “Short Cuts”). Infused with a blend of gentle humour and a sprinkling hip-hop, Can trust B built from nothing? charmed the opening night audience.

Rounding out the evening is Surrender, choreographed by Scott Galbraith and performed by Galbraith and Macon Escobal Riley. Here we see two bodies negotiate space and one another… with their eyes closed. At a time when face masks have forced many of us have had to learn to communicate much more with our eyes, this artistic decision feels apt. Though it didn’t always result in compelling viewing, there is something fascinating about the idea that feels worthy of further investigation.

Watching “Short Cuts” always feels like a privilege in that we are given access to work in its very early stages. What struck me this year, across both programs, was that it felt like many of the choreographers had shown as much material as possible. Though this is generous of the artists, “Short Cuts” is still a public, ticketed performance and, as such, there is value in distilling those ideas.

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

Pictured top is Michelle Aitken performing in her work “I hope my love never finds you”. 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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