A woman crouched against a wall of an art gallery studio
Dance, News, Performing arts, Reviews

Snack-sized dance

Review: Ana Music and April Vardy, Susan and The place in which I’ll fit will not exist until I create it” ·
Paper Mountain, 30 January ·
Review by Nina Levy ·

Running at less than half an hour, Ana Music and April Vardy’s double bill of contemporary dance makes for a perfect pre-show show, a performance hors d’oeuvre of sorts that finishes with enough time to get to a 7.30pm main course at any of the other Northbridge Fringe venues.

The two short solos that make up the bill are certainly snack-sized and easily digestible, appropriate given that these two local choreographers are in the very early stages of their careers as makers. First on the menu is Susan. Choreographed and performed by Music, it’s a light-hearted tribute, of sorts, to her parents.

The Paper Mountain gallery space makes for an intimate viewing experience but Music boldly meets our eyes as she charges past in a folk-style dance that pays homage to her Serbian roots. Fast paced, it makes the spoken interlude that follows something of a challenge but she catches her breath eventually and keeps us entertained with her observations. The movement that follows sees her roll and fall to ambient electronic sounds. Jagged pacing is followed by long lunges. Though there’s not an obvious link  between this movement and the parental reflections, Music is an engaging performer and holds our attention with ease.

Vardy’s self-devised and performed solo, The place in which I’ll fit will not exist until I create it, is an abstract concoction that sees her swing and fold smoothly through the space. Against a jittery soundscape, Vardy appears coolly elegant. As the beat drops, she becomes loose, her hips rolling and circling, her spine rippling, as though the music has possessed her body. Having watched Vardy perform since she was a student, this seems like a new moment for her, a pleasing progression in her performance style.

The two solos don’t feel particularly connected by anything other than the fact that they appear on the same program – a marriage of convenience, perhaps? Nonetheless, the double bill makes for a pleasant start to the night.

Susan and The place in which I’ll fit will not exist until I create it play Paper Mountain until February 2.

Pictured top is Ana Music in ‘Susan’.

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A woman dancing in a red unitard decorated in pompons. She is on her back, with her legs bent and her pelvis arching up.
Dance, Fringe World, News, Reviews

Strangely compelling

Fringe World review: Sophia Natale, Flesh and Bone ·
Paper Mountain, 24 January ·
Review by Nina Levy ·

Arriving at Paper Mountain to see local independent dance artist Sophia Natale’s Flesh and Bone, we are  handed a piece of paper. It’s not a program, but a letter from Natale to her audience. In it, she confesses that the description of her work contained in the Fringe program was written “on a whim, the night before the Fringe event applications closed … it does not reflect what my show is truly about.”

It’s an endearing confession. It’s also a common issue for independent artists – that one often has to describe a work, before it’s been made – but I’ve not come across any who decided to ‘fess up at showtime until now.

That honesty sets the tone for the work that follows, a structured improvisation in which, says Natale, she aims “to embody a being that represents communication in its purest form; emotion.”

The performance itself takes place in Paper Mountain’s gallery, a long but narrow room. The audience sits on cushions around its edges, so that the performance space is enclosed by viewers. Natale slips into this enclosure through a gap between bodies, her own body folded in half at the hips. Panther-like, she makes her way around the space on all fours, lithe and long, taking little sniffs of air, as though searching for a scent.

Sometimes she sniffs at audience members, leaning in close, as if to rest her head on their shoulders. Other times she looks at us nervously, as though preparing for flight.

Sporadically she breaks into phrases of movement. Now she arches, flips and curls snail-style. Now she creates a loop between hand and foot through which she threads her other limbs, with an elasticity that comes from years of dance training, but in this context brings to mind something inhuman, a snake perhaps?

I could watch her move like this for the full 60-minute duration, but projected footage, first of rocket launches, then of a horse giving birth, break the spell. Almost against my will, I find myself mesmerised by the explosive and sometimes catastrophic launches, and then the struggle of mare and foal. Natale’s creature is visibly distressed by these events but it’s hard to watch both dancer and video at the same time.

The sections involving projection feel disjointed – the rough segues, intentional or otherwise, add to this sense of discord. It appears that Natale is investigating the relationship between humans, technology and nature… but the parameters seem too broad.

Nonetheless, there is something strangely compelling about the “being” that Natale creates. As she says in her letter, she sees herself as being in the “infantile stages of… exploration”, and this performance has the quality of a work-in-progress rather than a complete work.

But it’s not often we’re afforded the opportunity to see work in its early stages of development… and when that work is performed by a dancer as physically articulate as Natale?

It’s a joy to be allowed to watch.

Pictured top: Sophia Natale in ‘Flesh and Bone’.

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Text Roulette
Calendar, Fringe World, Performance art, Performing arts, Theatre

Performance Art: Text Roulette

19 – 25 January @ Paper Mountain ·
Presented by Finn O’Branagain ·

It’s hard to know what to say sometimes. Is there a message you need to send? Maybe you need to tell your crush you can’t stop thinking about them, tell a partner about a little STI you have, reconnect with a sibling you haven’t spoken to in years, tell your housemate to stop leaving wet towels on the floor, send condolences to a friend with a death in the family. If you can’t find the words, play Text Roulette and let Finn O’Branagáin draft them for you — then send, save, delete, or ask for a sign. Sign up to anonymously have your text drafted, or purchase a ticket to see the process unfold.

A hit at The Blue Room Theatre’s Winter  Nights Program 2018!

Part of Peaks 2019, Paper Mountain’s program of visual art and performance for Fringe World Festival.

More info
W: www.facebook.com/events/395615867846483/
E:  finn.obranagain@gmail.com

Pictured: Text Roulette, credit: David Cox Media

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