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Lehte II Lehte II
photo Jude Walton
Jude Walton’s Lehte II could well have been created in the mid-20th century. Its clean, clear, sleek distillation of time and space into a fine dance work draws on many of art modernism’s principles, most notably its sense of abstraction, which underlies the very construction of this work. Lehte’s manner of abstraction consists of a series of operations that transform the dimensions of a performance space into an artwork consisting of sound and movement.

Lehte II was performed at Heide Museum of Modern Art, in suburban Heidelberg, in the former house of art philanthropists John and Sunday Reed. Designed in 1964, by architect David McGlashan, Heide II is a sandstone building with high ceilings, exposed brick and plenty of light. The house was built with a view to its becoming an art museum. It doesn’t feel like a home.

We are invited to sample the space, to inspect its glass cabinets, which house a mixture of historical objects belonging to the Reeds, exhibits from Walton’s earlier work on dance and books and a floor plan of the house with some algorithmic calculations, which formed the basis of the work. We look out the window. A woman adorned in a striking top made of blood red felt traces a pathway.

Passing through the rooms, we descend a staircase into an extremely tall room which houses a grand piano and features a high wall of glass framing the surrounding native garden. Two women enter a mezzanine high above. They lean out, turn and walk, tipping over like modernist ducks. A woman (Fiona Bryant) enters downstairs where we are seated. She skirts the wall, drawing attention to its material surface, eking out its dimensions. Her movement conforms to the room’s coordinates, especially its long shelving underneath which she curls. More women join in: walking straight ahead, turning corners, walking, turning, walking, turning.

A 90-degree turn has two points of reference: the body (an internal space) and the (external) space of the room. If the turn is produced by the body, in the rotation of the femur in the hip joint, the orientation of the torso and the spiral of the head, its clarity is felt elsewhere, between the internal space of the body and the room. We see the dancers draw on their somatic perceptions in order to calibrate their movement.

Meantime, and throughout, Kym Dillon constructs a series of sonic atmospheres, clear and resonant. The series moves forward without circling back. It feels... measured.

While the dancing mirrors the sparse purity that informs the modernist architecture of the house, it draws on a thoroughly postmodern sensibility in order to do so: involvement of the dancer in task-based actions, a submerged sense of self, no expressive or individualistic gestures, clean lines and ordinary movement. The clearest physicalisation of these tasks comes from those who are able to distill their skills into very plain movement, without any kind of mannerism. It is the plainness that sings. The music also. Formed from an occult algorithm that transforms the spatial dimensions of the various rooms into selections of white and black keys on the piano, the music is surprisingly melodic, an indication of Kym Dillon’s virtuosic engagement with the productive constraints of the piece.

Overall, Lehte II is a contemplative work. Its spaciousness allows the viewer’s attention to wander, over the sandstone walls, into the garden, forming sensory trails in the midst of thought. It is a very considered work.

Lehte II, made by Jude Walton in collaboration with performers Phoebe Robinson, Fiona Bryant, Sally Grage-Moore, Michaela Pegum, music Kym Dillon; Heide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne, 16-18 Oct

RealTime issue #130 Dec-Jan 2016 pg. 33

© Philipa Rothfield; for permission to reproduce apply to [email protected]

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