Venue: Dunstan Playhouse, Adelaide Festival Centre, King William Road, Adelaide
Duration: 1hrs 30min incl interval
The title of this performance merges the titles of the two dance works, Dream Time and Escape. The two works are also linked by the fact that the music for both pieces was composed by Japanese composer, Toru Takemitsu (1930-1996), a major figure in fusing Japanese tradition and western techniques.
Escape is choreographed by Leigh Warren in association with featured dancer, Kaiji Moriyama. Renowned pianist, Simon Tedeschi, using a prepared piano, albeit only a few keys at the extreme ends of the keyboard, plays Uninterrupted Rests, 1, 2 + 3, Corona and Crossing live on one side of the stage. This opportunity to hear such a tremendous pianist was a big bonus.
Inspired by a journey that Warren and Moriyama made together through the Akiyoshido cave, Mary Moore's set has walls of piano wire representing stalactites and is lit by Nic Mollison to capture the indistinct, fragmented and indirect lighting within a cave. Warren points out that, rather than just a literal journey through a cave, the work is a metaphor for descent into the subconscious, relating to his own experience of the spiritual effect on him of that physical journey.
As the light slowly increases, much like our eyes adjusting to the dark in a cave, we see three bodies suspended above the stage on cables. The two men and a woman, Bec Jones, Kevin Privett and Jesse Martin, slowly descend and begin to dance, discarding their harnesses. Another figure can just be seen in the background, still suspended. The three eventually climb back into their harnesses and become like puppets, whilst the third figure descends and begins to dance. The original three dance closely together, most of the time in contact with one another, while the fourth dancer, Moriyama, provides a counter to their movements, combining representation of Kanji characters, the Japanese writing system based on Chinese characters and insect like movements, reflecting a praying mantis seen in the cave.
The two parts of this dance combine in a delicate balance where the trio do not seem to be aware of the soloist, and the soloist carefully avoids drawing their attention, like conscious and subconscious, weaving around each other without a clear connection, yet still working together. The combination of Warren's western training and the influence of Moriyama's Asian upbringing results in a captivating work, the piano music, and extra sounds from Adam Synnott, adding greatly to the excitement.
Dream Time was choreographed by Czechoslovakian, Jiří Kylián, assisted by Elke Shepers and Leigh Warren. The music for this work, Dream Time for Orchestra, dates back to 1981 and the première of the dance was in 1983. Leigh Warren was one of the original dancers at that time, now five of his dancers, Lisa Griffiths, Bec Jones, Kevin Privett, Adam Synnott and Lizzie Vilmanis, have the opportunity to explore this work. In a distinct contrast to the first piece, this is modern ballet rather than contemporary dance, and the style of the music also reflects the changes with time in the compositional ideas and techniques of Takemitsu.
Although inspired by Kylián's encounters with indigenous Australian dancers, it does not attempt to copy traditional dance, although there are obscure references that recall movements of that dance form. Instead it is a flowing piece, accentuated by the movement of the long dresses of the women, the femininity of their dancing juxtaposed against the powerful aspects of the men, dressed only in trousers.
The two pieces provided a fine evening of dance fusions and contrasts to start the OzAsia Festival for this year, with the clarity, precision and expressiveness that we have come to expect from Leigh Warren and Dancers further expanded and enhanced through the additional influences of Moriyama and Kylián.
Reviewed by Barry Lenny, Arts Editor, Glam Adelaide.