RAW: OzAsia – Dreamscape

By Julia George

Premiering as part of the OzAsia festival, Dreamscape is a dance double bill consisting of two choreographic pieces – Escape by Leigh Warren and Dreamtime by guest choreographer Jiří Kylián.

Escape – by Leigh Warren

Leigh Warren is known for his beautifully aesthetic choreography that stretches boundaries but still shows signs of its traditional roots. Escape, performed by the dancers from Leigh Warren and Dancers, and also guest dance Kaiji Moriyama from Japan, is no exception to this. A contrast of light and shade with a simple, yet effective, set design by Mary Moore and soft lighting design by Nic Mollison.

The curtain is raised to reveal a mesh curtain overlay with a projected abstract image thought to be cloud-like, there’s twirled pieces of a wood-like material, which look like branches of trees, and a grand piano and pianist (Simon Tedeschi) sit to the side of the stage.

The piece begins with three dancers suspended from the ceiling, as they float down in a dream-like state the pianist begins playing some beautiful tunes (by Toru Takemitsu) as the dancers reach the ground and remove their harnesses, allowing them to dance around the room in such a soft, yet technical way. Then Moriyama appears in the background, also suspended, he then floats down.

Moriyama really is the star of this piece, and when he removes his harness he reveals a more sharp and erratic type movement. It was interesting to watch the difference in his style to Warren’s dancers; there was an evident cultural difference with an Asian influence in his movement, at times martial arts like.

Dreamtime – by guest choreographer Jiří Kylián

With Elke Schepers and Leigh Warren as assistant choreographers, this piece was in complete contrast to Escape, it was more ballet-like. Joop Caboort designed a creamy-white set which had a large draping curtain and a design at the back of the stage that looked almost like a piece of Aboriginal art and Toru Takemitsu also orchestrated the music for this piece.

Three female and two male of Warren’s dancers embraced the stage, with the females wearing long dark purple gowns and the males wearing only pants to reveal their strong physique. The element of light and shade was still present, with the costuming acting as a strong contrast against the bright set. The choreography was seamlessly performed, as the dancers intertwined and moved on and off stage to reveal the different patterns and styles of movement, and the movement was so smooth it almost looked like they were floating.

There was the feeling that this piece was safe and rather than being cutting-edge, it was about the beauty of the dance, the technique and the cleverness of how the choreography and music intertwined in a ballet-like way.

Overall these pieces had a sense of elegance and maturity. It’s great to see what cross-cultural collaboration can create, and this was one example.

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