Lake: Judith Wright Centre

Lisa Wilson’s contemporary dance piece Lake dances on water, literally, with the entire stage area covered in ankle deep water.

Hsin-Ju Chiu in Lake [Image: FenLan Chuang]
Hsin-Ju Chiu
Photo: FenLan Chuang
The performance opens with a mysterious water creature (Hsin-Ju Chiu) standing with her back to the audience, arms stretched upwards, grasping for something. Is it air? Is it that intangible something that we can’t quite keep a hold of?

After a feverish solo dance, the creature slinks off into the darkness and hides behind a clump of dead branches that hang from the ceiling to the floor. A large projected screen at the back of the stage shows a swamp-like lake with dangling branches gently swaying in the breeze. The sound of birds and crickets helps to complete the Australian bush atmosphere. A couple, clearly hikers, armed with deckchairs, a map, torch, and a makeshift campfire, enter and sit with their feet dangling in the water.

Mostly dark, with moody side-lighting, the feeling is calm but eerily foreboding. The couple playfully tease each other Ohl treats us to a light-hearted homage to ‘Singing in the Rain’, splashing through the water much as Gene Kelly did in he classic film sequence. But something seems to be troubling the female, something she tries to hide it from her mate.

Choreographed by Lisa Wilson Lake reflects the emotional turmoil of a strained relationship; the confusion, hurt, and anger that lie beneath the surface. The mounting tension is symbolised by the water creature who lurks, slides and splashes around the couple drawing them into a series of solo, duo, and trio dance sequences.

Hsin-Ju Chiu and Timothy Ohl in Lake. [Image: FenLan Chuang]
Hsin-Ju Chiu and Timothy Ohl in Lake.
[Image: FenLan Chuang]
The frustration and angst existing between the couple increase, ending  in what is clearly a shouting match. The video projection of white silhouettes effectively conveys the hidden emotions of the protagonists; all the things they dare not say for fear of harming the relationship. Meanwhile the couple stand silently on opposite sides of the stage.

The water extends the dancers’ movements in a spectacular visual and audible displa, rippling andf splashing in response to their movements. And the falling rain added another dimension, creating a dance language that was mesmerising. However, the real beauty came when the dancers performed in unison.

After its short season at the Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Performing Arts, Lake will conclude it’s national tour, which commenced in March, at the Northern Rivers Performing Arts on May 21.

Bobbi-Lea Dionysius

Bobbi-Lea is AussieTheatre.com's QLD Co-ordinator, writer, reviewer, and reporter. She is also an actor, presenter, and theatre/film producer for Drama Queen Productions in Brisbane. Bobbi-Lea holds a Degree in Music Theatre as well as a Degree in Film & TV, and is currently doing her Masters in Screen Production.

Bobbi-Lea Dionysius

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