2nd & 3rd-year WAAPA dance students
reviewed by Helga Sand
For followers of the dance, it was an evening of fascination revealing, as it did, not only the creative gifts of the choreographers but the focus and commitment of the students of WAAPA’s dance department.
I particularly admired Xianrong Xiao’s Flowing Stone which, like some aesthetic magnet, drew the viewer ineluctably into the remarkable world of an astonishingly imaginative choreographer – and students clearly able to give point and meaning to its fascinating ideas.
Emilia Blanco’s lighting design was visual magic, an impression enhanced by the skill of the dancers. Its opening moments in which dancers appear to be lying on their backs on the surface of a pond were the first of many memorable visual pleasures.
Music is drawn from a variety of sources, each episode as fascinating to watch as to listen to, a true marriage of mood and movement.
Aaron Carey-Burrows was particularly effective, moving about the stage more often than not burdened with the stones that are so significant in this choreography.
Earlier, Nils Christe’s SYNC made for intriguing dance-theatre. The female contingent danced en pointe – beautifully – and, throughout, with impressive discipline. A single prop, a stage-length scaffolding structure, was the backdrop for a finely unfolding visual treat with Blanco’s lighting doing much to enhance the presentation.
In both these offerings, time flew. But Michael Whaites’ Life Cycle, for all its many virtues, might to advantage have been more concise. A major, intriguing feature of the work was a rather curious sale of goods in which a number of very ordinary items (some of which could fairly be described as junk) – a reconditioned watering can, a cycle helmet, a tatty copy of Enid Blyton’s Folk of the Faraway Tree – were auctioned off. There was a good deal of repetitiveness here. Perhaps some condensation of material might have held the attention more successfully.
Strange Affliction was memorable, not least for port de bras of finesse which added significantly to the overall lyricism of the presentation. It was beautifully lit.
Choreographer Kynan Hughes has dedicated the ballet to three remarkable spirits: Dot Butler, Rae Ogle and the unforgettable and much loved Maggi Philips.