In the mood for dancing

12 June 2021

Triple bill “In Good Company” is a sublime combination of dancing, live music, mood lighting… and the opportunity to have a boogie yourself, if the urge takes you, writes Rita Clarke.

‘In Good Company: Music and Movers’, Brooke Leeder, Mitch Harvey and Rob Tinning ·
Perth Mess Hall, 11 June 2021 ·

The seeds of “In Good Company” were sown when independent local choreographer Brooke Leeder mused on the fact that audience members often tell her that after watching a dance performance… they want to dance themselves.

She set about arranging it for them.

This triple bill features works by Leeder, and fellow independent dance makers Mitch Harvey and Rob Tinning, danced to the compositions and live sound designs of Louis Frere-Harvey. In between each piece, there is dance – on opening night accompanied by DJ Rok Riley and ad-libbed and performed with immense gusto, by most of the more-than-willing audience; plus the dancers to aid the shyer (of which there were few, it must be said).

Apart from the fact that the lime-stone clad Perth Mess Hall is built in the ancient Greek castle-style, watching “In Good Company” I felt that, like W.B.Yeats, I had come to Byzantium – “the young in one another’s arms… caught in that sensual music…”

What a night it was.

And what a place to dance in. The defining characteristic of ancient Byzantine architecture is a heightened dome – and here it is in this vast hall ringed with the spectacular roving spotlighted patterns of talented local lighting designer Nemo Gandossini-Poirier.

Leeder, Harvey and Tinning’s choreography proves to be dynamic and gutsy, varying in composition but similar in the physical agility they demand of themselves as dancers and of their performers. Wide gestures, deep strides and sequences which twist bodies into forceful postures are danced to incessant beating rhythms.

When you are at eye level with such ardent, inventive dancers, as here, you can feel the bruising intensity of their commitment. It’s intriguing, confronting and certainly exciting. The company of 10 dancers interpret their choreographers’ intentions with impressive strength, drive and passion.

Leeder’s effectively constructed opening sequence features the magnetic Yilin Kong performing solo then joined by a slow flood tide of expressive power as dancers step from the surrounding audience and join her.

For his dancers Harvey has designed a pleasing architectural coherence and diversity of movement exemplified by the iridescent May Greenberg.

Tinning’s dancers are required to be ruggedly argumentative, banging their fists and arms, striding forcefully about and lifting and thrusting at each other. It’s dramatic and sheer entertainment.

In fact the whole evening was well balanced – a sublime combination of dancing, live music, mood lighting and the ability to arm yourself often with drinks from the bar – Dutch courage for those who thought themselves unable to get up and grace the hall. Well… there was a bit of competition. But no-one seemed to care.

This is the third time that Leeder and Co have tried to put on “In Good Company”, thwarted as were many things, by COVID. The aim was to produce a work centred around “common themes of unity, rituals and the innate human need to be connected.”

So better late than never – they have succeeded brilliantly.

“In Good Company” continues at Perth Mess Hall until 13 June 2021.

Pictured top is Lilly King (centre front) and ensemble. Photo: Liz Looker

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Author —
Rita Clarke

Whilst studying arts at UWA Rita found herself working at Radio 6UVSfm presenting the breakfast and Arts shows, and writing and producing various programs for ABC’s Radio National. A wordsmith at heart she also began writing features and reviews on theatre, film and dance for The Australian, The Financial Review, The West Australian, Scooby and other magazines. Tennis keeps her fit, and her family keeps her happy, as does writing now for Seesaw.

Past Articles

  • Rewriting tradition with skill and charm

    It’s a privilege to witness the stunning dexterity of choreographer Raghav Handa and musician Maharshi Raval as they disrupt the traditional roles of Indian dance with grace and charisma, says Rita Clarke.

  • Straight talk reveals resilience behind anguish

    Despite its focus on the inhumanity of incarceration, Jurrungu Ngan-ga has the audience laughing and on its feet with admiration, writes Rita Clarke.

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