2 One Another is one of those rare, incredibly welcome, pieces that re-affirm the value of not only dance, but all of the arts. Slick professionalism across all elements and engaging, thought provoking content leave the viewer sated – and I
easily could watch it all over again.
SDC Artistic Director Rafael Bonachela has created for 2 One Another a detailed choreographic language exploring the theme of individuals reacting and being stimulated by others and the group. As part of the process, he invited poet and writer Samuel Webster to attend rehearsals and write instinctively in response to what he was seeing. Haunting snippets of Webster’s poetry can be heard in the soundtrack, by composer Nick Wales, as whispered voices of the dancers are weaved into the music. Classical string textures composed by Wales intersperse an eclectic but cohesive mix of contemporary electro-acoustic-, renaissance- and baroque-inspired pieces.
The soundtrack, which could stand alone, provides the framework for a number of episodes, solos, duets and ensembles danced on an empty stage. Constant movement, fluid, yet at the same moment architectural and geometric, bring one to a contemplation of an ever restless organic world. Contact is made, but is always fleeting, as a gesture sets off another train of reaction or communication. Featured dancer Natalie Allen is mesmerising and Andrew Crawford, Charmen Yap and Chen Wen also captured attention, engaging me in that breath-catching visceral empathy only elicited by the best contemporary dance.
The visual and metaphorical layers of 2 One Another are completed by the design, headed by Tony Assness. Costumes that act like second skin, while still being unique for each dancer are complemented by the almost imperceptibly perfect lighting design by Benjamin Cisterne. The mixture of projections and LED on a screen by design and production team loura constantly change. The first sections are a masterclass in mono-chrome, building to an intense emotional warmth in the closing scenes. The twinkling lights, evocative at times of falling stars, computer motherboards, sparking neurons and ultimately an infinite universe, were so beautiful I at times spent some minutes ignoring the dancing to focus on this light show nonpareil.
2 One Another is excellent dance and with its exemplary fusion of music and design proves that some of the most exciting theatre in Australia is to be found in contemporary dance. It continues at The Playhouse till Saturday.