Terrain is where spirit and place meet
Terrain by Bangarra Dance Theatre reviewed by Angela McDonald Booth.
This new full length work by choreographer Frances Rings is comprised of nine short pieces, beautifully stitched into a patchwork of landscape inspired wonder. The accessibility of this format impressed me. It is an unique invitation to experience these artists’ interpretation of the indigenous people’s relationship to country, in particular to the vast and changeable waterway, Lake Eyre.
Rings’ choreography is idiosyncratic, which, for a 65 minute piece with costume, design and music changes providing colour and impetus, is not such a bad thing. Common themes and motifs linked the short works with a signature mood of fluid connectivity and a style that asks the dancers never to simply make shapes. With limbs always driving the next movement on and through the body and back again, the individual movement as well as that adopted in ensemble work had a fluidity that well captured the ebb and flow of water and the desert landscape.
There were times, however, where I longed to see space between the dancers and for the action to be oriented in more than one dimension. This was especially evident in the quartet “Reborn” where the movement was, for the most part, directed and presented frontally. Perhaps a deliberate choreographic decision, I nonetheless found myself wishing to move about to gain an alternate view of the bodies being manipulated in space. Feet stretching and flexing in sequence during lifts and floor presses become familiar sights as did many movements that were initiated by body rolls, shoulder, rib and hip isolations. They were possibly overused at times.
Highlights included “Shields”, a men’s ensemble that used bark shields as symbols and tools against the struggle for Land Rights and Recognition. These white painted and stylised props were manipulated about individual bodies and around the throng of dancers, thrust rhythmically in restrained and deliberate movements reminiscent of the beating heart…
Book tickets here for Terrain in Canberra Thursday 13th – Saturday 15th September
and Brisbane Wednesday 3rd – Sunday 7th October.
Photography by Greg Barrett.