Adelaide Festival

Adelaide Festival Review: Time Machine

Energetic, acrobatic dance style with aerial feats that defy description

Energetic, acrobatic dance style with aerial feats that defy description

Presented by: Elizabeth Streb and STREB EXTREME ACTION

Reviewed: 14 March, 2024

Time Machine is not easily categorised as dance, nor gymnastics or circus, but a mind-blowing combination of all three and then some.

Elizabeth Streb founded STREB EXTREME ACTION in 1985 and it’s easy to see why its experimental style and pure athleticism led to the company performing at the 2012 Olympics finale at the top of the London Eye. There are no delicate ballerina types in this ensemble cast, instead the performers are strong, buxom and ooze athletic prowess. 

Starting slow, Time Machine builds over the course of an hour to a mind boggling crescendo. Using a massive half wheel topped with a performance plank, dancers introduce their teamwork approach calling out instructions to one another, striking poses and shifting their collective weight to bring the wheel to a precise tipping point without overbalancing. 

A stylised voiceover commentary between each piece provided context and insight into the choreographer’s intentions. One dancer struggled against the confines of her wooden box, using hard hitting body percussion that then featured throughout. Other dancers were tethered together and various props were introduced both as tools and obstacles. The most comic piece was a tribute to the 50s and 60s slapstick era of film as dancers lithely dodged giant swinging poles and falling walls. As the performance progressed, so did the energy and precision team work. A giant gym mat provided a safe landing space for dancers who threw their bodies into the air, forwards and backwards, landing with full force on belly or back. At first this elicited gasps from the audience seeing them land rigid and flat, then amazement as the speed and coordinated aerial work gained momentum.

Time Machine explored art styles of various eras, utilised moving doors, falling walls, incredible coordination, sliding bridge splits and an insane amount of energy. The trampoline finale needs to be seen to be believed and makes one believe human flight (sans airplane) is possible. Dancers bounced high in the air, swam like fish or flapped like birds, dodging one another mid flight only to slam into the mat and go again in a symphony of dive bombing. It was astounding, exhilarating and looked like so much fun!

The style of this company is truly unique, captivating and awe inspiring. For dance and movement enthusiasts, this is a sumptuous treat and for novice audience members, there’s no better introduction to the movement art world. 

Reviewed by Samantha Bond

Photo credit:

Venue: Her Majesty’s Theatre
Season: Until 17 March, 2024
Duration: 60 mins
Tickets: $35 – $89

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