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POSTED: 11 MARCH 2013

De Nova, by Raphael Bonachela, Larissa McGowan & Alexander Ekman

Sydney Dance Company | Sydney Theatre, Walsh Bay, Sydney | Until 23 March

De Nova is a collection of three pieces of work — the debut of Raphael Bonachela’s  Emergence, Larissa McGowan’s Fanatic, and the Australian premiere of Cacti, by Swedish choreographer Alexander Ekman.

Emergence examines complex systems and patterns that emerge from physical interactions. It is a collaboration in the truest sense of the word, where the various artistic elements merge together to form a very impressive whole.

Australian Indie singer and songwriter Sarah Blasko and composer Nick Wales construct a tenderly beautiful and haunting soundtrack to which Bonachela’s talented troupe respond.

It all begins with a trio danced by Charmene Yap, Andrew Crawford and Bernhard Knauer in which a series of serrated postures fluidly slip into angular shapes. This is immediately followed by a duo — a tender dialogue between two male dancers, Thomas Bradley and Cass Mortimer Eipper, which was poignantly powerful and intensely intimate.

The highlight for me in this most impressive piece of work was the solo by Natalie Allen, whose clarity of expression and razor-sharp movements ensured I tracked her throughout the performance.

Dion Lee’s tailored costumes create shining shapes as the company compose complex patterns on Benjamin Cisterne’s metallic mirrored floor, rendering a three-dimensional  unification of artistic vision.

Fanatic, by Queensland-born choreographer Larissa McGowan, is a satirical homage to pop culture, specifically the Alien and Predator films. Three fans of the movies, dancers Natalie Allen, Thomas Bradley and Chris Aubrey, share their thoughts over You Tube.

The dancers lip-synch classic lines from the movie whilst flexing, crashing and engaging in choreographed battles with each other. A highly coordinated and synchronised soundscape, created by Steve Mayhew, includes extracts from the movies. It is intricately and athletically abstract in its choreography and vibrantly rendered by three dancers who display masterful control of movement.

Alexander Ekman’s Cacti is a satirical comic commentary on contemporary dance. Sixteen dancers on individual platforms perform a series of poses and eurythmic, ritualistic routines as if members of an orchestra, whilst a string quartet travels around the stage delivering a mix of Beethoven, Schubert and Haydn. Throughout, a voice-over delivers a mindless narration on dance theory.

In the end each dancer attains their own symbolic potted cacti and we are left with the elusive question, what does it all mean? It is a very, very funny and immensely enjoyable deconstruction on the affectations of postmodern dance and the self-absorption of many modern choreographers who are unable to clearly communicate their message.

Definitely not the case here! This is a coming together of creative spirits and emerges as a magnificent evening of entertainment and an awesome spectacle of artistic endeavour. Thumbs up!

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