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Victor Bramich, Lisa Griffiths, Shona Erskine, <BR />Nalina Wait, Fine Line Terrain
Victor Bramich, Lisa Griffiths, Shona Erskine,
Nalina Wait, Fine Line Terrain

photo Alejandro Rolandi
The 6 works of Sue Healey's Niche series cover live performance, installation and dance film, and include an international commission in Japan (RT 61, p48). It would be interesting to experience all of these works in a single location within a unified time span, to see how the different textures of sound, movement, light and space resonate with and against each other. Fine Line Terrain is described as "the major live work in the Niche series", but it is essentially a non-linear collection of fragments, of stops and starts, as though the installation aspect of Niche had seeped into the live durational work.

The atmosphere of Fine Line Terrain is charged, tense, but inconclusive. There are moments of beauty and moments of banality. Dancers come together and come apart. The lighting by Joseph Mercurio frames their movements in boxes. The film and video projections by Louise Curham pick up the theme in Michael Pearce and Healey's linear set design. The soundtrack by Darrin Verhagen veers from what sounds like static played backward to gently rolling, sad songs. Dancers develop strange relationships with the walls that enclose them. The soundtrack's collage turns international when the clipped counting of numbers gives way to some German text and then some floating, perhaps resonant, perhaps pretentious lines like "the dangerous sea", and then something about "indifference", "satisfaction". Dancers entangle themselves in each other and turn upside down. They play with and get caught up in the detachable white lines that frame the otherwise dark blank set. There's a charming duet, a searing solo, a sudden building momentum in a trio, a silent line of 4 bodies in space with someone looking on from the darkness...Some of these events happen again in a different order but one gets the impression the order doesn't really matter.

What carries us through all this is the presence of the dancers. Nelson Reguera Perez has outstanding moments of breathtaking, fully coordinated, leaping physical grace. There is a wicked smile of delight as Nalina Wait disappears into the darkness with 2 men. Jacob Lehrer is a quiet but thoughtful presence. Shona Erskine is playful and expansive. But above all Lisa Griffiths is outstanding in this work - a lovely dancer with whom one feels fully present at all times. She brings luminous beauty and complete humanity to the tangle of lyricism and awkwardness, darkness and confusion, the pockets of levity and unspoken desire, the expected and the unexpected.

Fine Line Terrain is undoubtedly a mature work, and perhaps viewing the whole of the Niche series would shed light on its interesting but inconclusive gestures. On their own, the lines in Sue Healey's Fine Line Terrain are fractured. It's as if we are in a labyrinth but Ariadne's thread has long since been cut into many pieces. There is nowhere to go. There is no chance of finding the centre or the exit. And so—dance.

Fine Line Terrain, choreographer Sue Healey, composer Darrin Verhagen, film projections Louise Curham, lighting Joseph Mercurio; The Studio, Sydney Opera House, June 29-July 3

RealTime issue #62 Aug-Sept 2004 pg. Onl

© Richard James Allen; for permission to reproduce apply to [email protected]

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