Review by Lara Fox
Meeting is a “synchronised meeting of minds and machine,” illustrated through interpretive dance and 64 programmed machines, which both dictate to and are dictated by one another. The neurotic choreography is by Melbourne dancer Antony Hamilton and the making and programming of the machines is done by fellow Australian, Alisdair Macindoe.
The show opens with 64 small machines which look like mouse traps, set around in a 5m x 5m circle, in groups of 8, (which is a number of importance to music). Hamilton and Macdinoe enter the room and start jolted movements in time with twitching noises coming from the machines; it seems that the dancers are in some way controlling the twitches, such is the superb timing and synchronisation of their actions.
The movements are reminiscent of generic every day human movements, done in a stilted manner, such as holding an infant, brushing hair, holding a mirror or opening a door. They are repeated over and over again, often with slight differences, which is perhaps a commentary on the endless desire for perfection.
We get the sense that we’re watching the inner workings of a humans brain, the cogs clicking and turning, or perhaps even a portrayal of obsessive compulsiveness.
As it turns out, the repetitiveness and compulsiveness is due to a fixation with numbers, which becomes evident when Hamilton and Macindoe begin to recite number sequences that coincide with the tappings of the machine’s pencils and the movements – all following the same pattern, seemingly timed with a count of numbers.
As the show progresses, the twitchings turn to resonant tappings and the dancing becomes more fervent, until the room is filled with offbeat music from all 64 of the machines tapping away at different times. It seems at this point that the machines have started to control the dancers – which is a nice commentary on the modern world’s fixation and reliance on machines and technology.
After a while the performers start to rearrange the machines, so that the pencils each hit something different including wood, steel, plastic, tin and other types of materials. The resulting sound is best described as a sun shower of light, but clustered, pitter-pattering drops hitting a roof, all differing in intensity, length, timing and sequencing – reminiscent of something natural and human.
The level of skill and accuracy of the dancing and movements is breathtaking – literally, the whole room of 200 people was deadly silent for a long time into the show. The smallest of glitches of the fingers, hands, wrists and feet are perfectly timed to the machines noises and are mirrored by each dancer, and there are hundreds of different movements.
It must be said however that once the original ‘wow’ dissipates and you become accustomed to it all, which is probably within the first 25minutes, the show can become tedious. It is simply too repetitive and too analogous in nature not to become annoying; in fact towards the end of show a number of people walked out and there was a collective sigh of relief once it was over.
The show is very impressive and exceptionally unique and modern, but perhaps by making it a little shorter or adding some varying elements, it could also be equally as enjoyable.
Meeting was presented as part of Perth International Arts Festival 2017 from 1 – 4 March.