Theatre review: We Have Been There (Cloud in Hand), Q Theatre

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Lisa Densem, left, and the Footnote dancers explore energies and vibrations.
Lisa Densem, left, and the Footnote dancers explore energies and vibrations.

Lisa Densem's work on Footnote Dance is an exploration - of movement, of identity, of the concept of universal consciousness, perhaps - rather more than a "performance." The audience sits like a posse of voyeurs as the six dancers set about deconstructing their art and themselves.

Densem is, after all, now settled in Berlin, steeped in Europe's uncompromising intellectualism and Footnote spent time with her there in the early development of this project, in the Footnote Forte series.

It begins so slowly, before the theatre lights dim, that later arrivals chat intrusively before they realise dancers are arriving onstage. Which they do individually, to stand, lean, sit, slouch and to stare back into the auditorium curiously uncurious.

Andrew Thomas' sound score vibrates softly but insistently, more subterranean rumble with intermittent silences, than rhythmic cats' purr. It nevertheless seems to drive the action, which unfolds, though uncreases would be a better word.

Elbows crick at odd angles, torsos sit askew of inelegant lunges, hips torque, wrists and fingers jerk, string puppet like.

Alice Macann, in particular, produces the movements of an intense but untutored, dancing child. A rubbery Emily Adams contorts in one long solo section, taking the possible range of hip movement to new boundaries.

The work evolves though various combinations of duos and trios, sometimes happening together, sometimes with some of the dancers taking time out at the sides of the undressed stage. Thomas's sonorous rumbles get a little more up-beat and the pace quickens. The stage becomes busy with concurrent actions. As the energy rises these clusters of dances are drawn together, as if by gravitational forces, to fold and unfold in complex contact. The movement appears more natural at speed.

And then it all subsides again, until just one dancer is left. The end.

In presenting a totally abstract work, devoid of narrative, character or discussion of any kind, Densem endeavours to take her dancers - and the voyeurs - to a dance beyond mind, to a totally experiential and meditative place.

They might have been There.

Have we?

Who can say?

What: We Have Been There (Cloud in Hand)
Where: Q Theatre

- NZ Herald

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