Leigh Warren & Dancers present Pari passu…touch
17 May 2012
Adelaide Festival Centre – In Space until May 26.
Purchase tickets at BASS
Leigh Warren’s latest dance work comprises three distinct chapters, each bound to the other by the notion of “equal footing” or “moving together”: pari passu (Latin, not French). Interactive multimedia technology describes and accentuates movement in a new way, whilst an exploration of human touch has the dancers connecting and disconnecting in turn.
Part one (titled random) showcases the lucid touchscreens which dominate Mary Moore’s set design. A seamlessly-tiled image of slate stone is stretched and morphed by some unseen force. Using their bodies the dancers are able to manipulate the projected images, to wondrous effect. Four silhouettes lined up against the screen play a game of Chinese whispers by movement. Prismatic bolts of energy connect them: a phrase begun by one dancer is continued, expanded upon or disregarded as it’s passed down the line. Fluid movement is translated into geometric shapes as a dynamic system of connect-the-dots forms, tracing arms and hands, legs and feet.
Where random demonstrates what the cool touchscreens are capable of, tangled is all about the dancers. Jesse Martin and Bec Jones partner up, delivering a pas de deux that’s sparking with fiery sensual energy. It’s great to see Lisa Griffiths again after her recent performance in Side To One. Although I preferred her partnership with Craig Bary in that previous production, here partnered with Timothy Farrar she again displays her incredible control and technique.
The third part, aptly named synchronic, brings all four dancers into militaristic unison. There’s a hypnotic repetition of beat, in the soundtrack and choreography. At best it feels neo-tribal, conjuring up a trance like state from the dancers whilst a projected vortex swirls unremittingly. Unfortunately the solo breakouts disrupt this mood, dissipating the powerful groundswell of kinetic energy that’s built up by the group.
The importance of the projection and music design of this piece cannot be understated, and here Adam Synnott excels. Transitions between the three parts are work mostly due to his contribution. Overall I didn’t find the work uniformly satisfying, but this could well be due to my individual taste. By its nature the structuring of this work allows for a diversity of expression, and while somewhat episodic this also ensures there’s something for everyone to engage with.