May 23rd, 2007

Does My Bomb Look Big In This?

Review - Wild Cursive (Dance)



Last night we attended the opening night of the 2007 Adventures Program at The Opera House, and for the first time, I saw something in the Opera Theatre. The show was called Wild Cursive, and it was danced by the Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan.

The premise of the performance is that the 18 dancers represent 'wild calligraphy' - their movement emulating the brush strokes of a calligrapher, as they dance across a white 'paper' stage. The dance style was unlike anything I have seen before, perhaps with the exception of Ang Lee's 'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon', and some parts of it were jarring to a person who grew up on the ideals of Western dance (the angular hand positions in particular). Sometimes I found the movement both spasmodic as well as undulating (a strange combination I know).

The performance was set to more of a soundscape than a musical piece, and I will admit that I missed music. I guess I realised that for me, music is an essential part of dance. One of my companions was heard to remark that it was a "wanna-be Baraka".

Perhaps the best scene seemed to emulate the sealife in a rock pool, with 16 of the cast on stage, undulating with the soundtrack, with single dancers breaking out against the pack from time to time. The aforementioned companion (having a sterling night of one-liners) said that it was like "finding Nemo", and I laughed, feeling a bit bad for laughing, because it was beautiful and original too.

At the after show, a gentleman who had called The Hospital "expensive, foreign weirdness" was heard to remark that this was "expensive and foreign" and I liked the comparision. There were elements of the same for me across the two performances, and I found myself analysing why I was not responding to it (yes, it was beautiful; yes it was exotic; but bad on the extremely gendered division between the male and female dancers; good on the costumes which worked well with the style of movement; bad on the complete absence of touching, or human contact between the dancers; bad on the extremely noisy lowering of screens on an almost silent stage) rather than getting lost in it.

You can book tickets for the remaining performance of Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan here (tonight only): http://www.sydneyoperahouse.com/sections/whats_on/boxoffice/event_details.asp?EventID=2210&sm=1&ss=1
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