Adelaide Festival

Festival Review: Impermanence

The Sydney Dance Company and Australian String Quartet explore our changing relationships with the things we hold dear and the things we fear.

A wonderful collaboration that offers an emotive interpretation of our changing relationships with people and place.

Presented by Sydney Dance Company and Australian String Quartet
Reviewed 10 March 2021

From chaos comes conformity. From conformity comes chaos. Peace, war, connection, disconnection, our relationships to self, community and our planet. Nothing is permanent.

Impermanence explores our changing relationships with the things we hold dear and the things we fear. Inspired by the burning of Notre-Dame, the Australian bushfires and, of course, COVID-19, the premiere of Impermanence was deferred from last year and expanded to a full-length work in a collaboration between choreographer Rafael Bonachela and composer Bryce Dessner. It features 17 dancers and the Australian String Quartet on a bare white stage with a single strip of backlighting as the sole decoration.

As the fluid movements of the dancers fill the stage, even the lighting flickers at one early point, ending the permanence of its illumination. Dale Barltrop and Francesca Hiew on violins, Michael Dahlenburg on cello, and courtesy of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Christopher Cartlidge on viola, sit upstage presenting Dessner’s powerfully dramatic score that is as emotive as the dance itself.

Dressed in rehearsal-style attire, the ensemble of dancers open with a hypnotic crossing of the stage, sometimes falling, sometimes running, providing a patterned movement in both directions. Dim lighting keeps them in shadow which is only relieved as the back strip of lighting is slowly expanded through the performance to offer changing colours and falling stars. The dancers move from solos and duets to ensemble pieces, sometimes frantic, sometimes touching. Nothing stays the same for long.

The piece ends to the song Another World by Anohni, which drives home the message in a thought-provoking conclusion to a spellbinding hour.


Reviewed by Rod Lewis
Twitter: @StrtegicRetweet

Venue:  Festival Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre, King William Street, Adelaide
Season:  Until 11 March at various timeslots
Duration:  65 minutes
Tickets:  $35 – $99

Rating out of 5: 4.5



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