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Dance Massive 2013


 Da Contents H2

dance massive 2013
March 27 2013
dance: installed, immersed, hybridised
keith gallasch: dance massive 2013

quotidian moves, gangnam-style
philipa rothfield: ben speth, wetubelive

dance massive 2013
sounds to dance to, with, against
gail priest: sound design in dance massive 2013

March 26 2013
the life in the work
philipa rothfield: tracie mitchell, dance screen retrospective

youtubing live
varia karipoff: ben speth, wetubelive

dance massive 2013
March 24 2013
dance & disorientation
keith gallasch: tim darbyshire, more or less concrete

more or less monstrous
jana perkovic: atlanta eke, monster body

realtime tv: tim darbyshire, more of less concrete, dance massive 2013

March 22 2013
ritual entwining
philipa rothfield: soo yeun you, [gu:t] [work-in-progress]

strange affliction: dance massive & transcendence
keith gallasch: jo lloyd, future perfect

March 21 2013
a not so private hearing
carl nilsson-polias: tim darbyshire, more or less concrete

realtime tv: antony hamilton, black projects 1& 2, dance massive 2013

something ends, something begins
virginia baxter: dance exchange, dance for the time being - southern exposure

dance massive 2013
the perfection of submission
varia karipoff: jo lloyd, future perfect

March 20 2013
inner fury, seductive skill
philipa rothfield: anouk van dijk, chunky move, 247 days

March 20 2013
old tropes & the new disconnect
carl nilsson-polias: lucy guerin inc & belvoir, conversation piece

March 19 2013
now, then, now
keith gallasch: sandra parker, the recording

realtime tv: anouk van dijk, 247 days, chunky move, dance massive 2013

dance massive 2013
March 18 2013
creating an affective community
jana perkovic: matthew day, intermission

fun and the damage done
keith gallasch: larissa mcgowan, skeleton

more than smoke and mirrors
virginia baxter: ashley dyer, life support

realtime tv: lee serle, p.o.v., dance massive 2013

March 17 2013
realtime tv: dalisa pigram, gudirr gudirr, dance massive 2013

the body un-mirrored
jana perkovic: anouk van dijk, chunky move, 247 days

the origins of feeling
philipa rothfield: sandra parker, the recording

March 16 2013
realtime tv: stephanie lake, dual, dance massive 2013

dance massive 2013
March 15 2013
a dance for dark times
virginia baxter: dalisa pigram, gudirr gudirr

brittle bones & internal electricity
carl nilsson-polias: larissa mcgowan, skeleton

in the thick of it
philipa rothfield: lee serle, p.o.v.

March 15 2013
inside the audience
jana perkovic: lee serle, p.o.v

the poetry of pain
keith gallasch: stephanie lake, dual

dance massive 2013
when two become one
varia karipoff: stephanie lake, dual

March 14 2013
blacker than black
keith gallasch: antony hamilton, black projects 1 & 2

life in a puff
carl nilsson-polias: ashley dyer, life support

March 13 2013
dark symmetries
carl nilsson-polias: antony hamilton, black projects 1 & 2

lines of flight
philipa rothfield: dalisa pigram, gudirr gudirr

dance massive 2013
suggestive formalism
jana perkovic: natalie abbott, physical fractals

unsettling the audience
varia karipoff: natalie abbott, physical fractals

February 22 2013
an intense manifestation of dance
philipa rothfield: dance massive 2013, melbourne

dance massive 2013: from the archive
lucy guerin inc, conversation piece; antony hamilton, black project; atlanta eke, this monster body; matthew day, intermission; jo lloyd, future perfect; tim darbyshire, more or less concrete; natalie abbot, physical fractals; ben speth, wetubelive


brittle bones & internal electricity

carl nilsson-polias: larissa mcgowan, skeleton

Skeleton, Larrisa MacGowan Skeleton, Larrisa MacGowan
photo Chris Herzfeld, Camlight Productions

The work draws inspiration from Ricky Swallow’s sculptures, specifically those involving skulls and 80s paraphernalia. This is a tricky point to leap from. A vital feature of Swallow’s art is his ironic use of monumentality—making the unimportant extravagantly important, the practical completely impractical. It is a feature that is, to a certain extent, predicated on his medium, which is static and timeless. The theatre—kinetic and ephemeral—is a different beast entirely.

Nevertheless, Larissa McGowan and Sam Haren’s subsequent vision for Skeleton is of an “archaeological puzzle” that fleshes out the human frame with the muscle of pop culture. Unfortunately, the skeleton and the muscle end up running parallel. McGowan’s choreography carves out the physical concreteness of the skeleton in the present tense, whereas the pop culture exists merely as artefact, never truly coming alive. These artefacts include an all-white BMX that directly quotes Swallow’s famous 1999 work “Peugeot Taipan, Commemorative Model (Discontinued Line).” Lisa Griffiths’ intricate dance with the bike is expert in its execution but the interaction is not affecting, for her or for us. The archaeology of culture is not merely the digging up of urns, it is also the contextualising of the urn. And, though the props are skateboards and stilettos and the sound design is littered with Nintendo bleeps and horror movie howls, the work as a whole fails to build a context for these references, stripping them of meaning.

McGowan’s choreography bears the hallmarks of her time with Australian Dance Theatre. It is fast, explosive and at its best when the speed and forcefulness catch the viewer by surprise. Softness is not part of the vocabulary, nor should it be, given the subject matter. McGowan extends the dancers’ bodies as though from within them, the internal physical mechanics becoming apparent. And there seems to be a recurring motif of bodily disassociation, where the intention of the mind and the action of the body run counter to one another. We see this in Lewis Rankin’s frenzied solo, in Griffiths’ suddenly stiffened muscles. The choreographic language is rooted in the mechanical and, importantly, it is firmly internal.

The dynamics between the dancers are similarly mechanical. There is no engagement, nor relationship between them beyond emotionless grappling. This isolates the dancers from one another, creating spatial pockets of action rather than a stage full of tension, love, contempt or any other of a host of intangibles that can imbue the space between people with meaning. This, in itself, is not necessarily a negative, but the isolation here feeds into the larger, more crucial problem of the show’s parallel themes not interacting.

Tobiah Booth-Remmers, Lisa Griffiths, Lewis Rankin, Skeleton Tobiah Booth-Remmers, Lisa Griffiths, Lewis Rankin, Skeleton
photo Chris Herzfeld, Camlight Productions
Skeleton promises most when it is at its most playful. Jonathon Oxlade’s design is perhaps too rigorously geometrical but the black screens that whisk across the stage are a brilliant creation. Silent and smooth, the screens deposit dancers and props in place or clean them up on their way out. They are a physical manifestation of a film edit, all the more appealing for their simplicity. Their use is effective as a way of quickly altering the space, but their potential is most apparent when reinventing images as though by magic. In these instances, the pop film language that the screens nod to is given its due weight but more could have been made of these opportunities.

Similarly, Jethro Woodward’s sound design is often a remarkable assault of mashed-up film foley sounds. The splatter, the gore, the piercing screams are punched together so quickly that they become their own delicious music. However, as they lose their distinctness they also lose some of their ironic humour and the chance to juxtapose contrary or incongruous references is also missed. Occasionally, the engagement between the dancers’ bodies and the score approaches the well-worn path of fighting to sound effects (recall the martial arts scene of Chunky Move’sTense Dave, 2003). McGowan steers away from that course for the most part, but the result feels like a compromise rather than a strong alternative.

In the end, the real strengths of Skeleton—the internal electricity of McGowan’s choreography, the dedication of the dancers, the magic of the black screens—cannot sustain a full-length show. The bones are willing but the flesh is weak.

Dance Massive, Malthouse: Skeleton, choreographer Larissa McGowan, directors Sam Haren, Larissa McGowan, performers Tobiah Booth-Remmers, Lisa Griffiths, Marcus Louend, Larissa McGowan, Lewis Rankin, set, costume design Jonathon Oxlade, lighting Bosco Shaw, Bluebottle, composer: Jethro Woodward, producer Freya Waterson, Insite Arts, Beckett Theatre, Malthouse, Melbourne, March 14 - 23;

RealTime issue #114 April-May 2013 pg. 31

© Carl Nilsson-Polias; for permission to reproduce apply to [email protected]

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