State Theatre Centre
Wednesday, April 15, 2015
Under the clear, starry sky in the courtyard of the State Theatre Centre, budding choreographer Isabella Stone made her debut with mouseprint, a new contemporary dance work developed over the last two years and performed by Jenni Large, Storm Helmore and Ella-Rose Trew. Mouseprint explores the notion of life’s fine print, especially within our relationships, and gives physical expression to the idea of what we might discover if we were to examine the unspoken agreements between people.
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Gleaning this meaning just based on a single viewing of the piece might be difficult, and those who are not already initiated into the language of contemporary dance may have trouble wrapping their brains around the work, but in no way should this be a deterrent. In fact, I’d say it’s all the more reason to get along and see the piece. It’s highly abstract and finely honed, so when your brain stops trying to create a narrative, your senses can take over and enjoy these excellent performers lead as they you into unknown territory.
The three dancers each express themselves in very different ways, and much of the joy in watching this trio is discovering how each of their bodies interpret the same movement uniquely. For example, Storm Helmore is light as a feather, and her character, if we can call it that, seems lost in the clouds and stands apart from the other two. Jenni Large and Ella-Rose Trew are strong and bold, with Large performing some very bizarre movements with great precision and commitment, and Trew providing a kind of grounding force to the trio.
The opening sequence is performed in silence with a calm, casual assurance. Then the soundtrack designed by Brett Smith begins and we’re into the meat of the piece, where the concepts introduced in the opening sequence get pulled apart and deepened. Chris Donnelly’s lighting design manages to do a lot without overhead trusses, and he keeps the light from spilling onto the audience, who face each other off across the dance floor.
Once sequence in particular was extremely uncomfortable for me personally, but I realise I might be alone in my discomfort. There was a passage of sound that could have been Steve Reich’s Pendulum Music, based on the information in the program, which had very low frequencies played at a volume that made everything metal in the venue vibrate. It also made me very physically tense, and my stomach even turned once or twice. But this made the sweet relief of Brett Smith’s rain field recordings even sweeter and more soothing.
The autumn air, which in Northbridge is infused with cooking smells from nearby restaurants and the occasional interjection from a roaring motor, is just beginning to be crisp enough to warrant coats and rugs for this outdoor performance. By some great fortune the rain has stayed away, allowing this beautiful and intriguing work to go ahead as planned, without being relocated to one of the indoor spaces of the State Theatre. If this is just the beginning for Ms. Stone’s choreography career, we have a lot to look forward to from this creative emerging artist.