Adelaide Festival

Festival Review: Monumental

The Holy Body Tattoo and Godspeed You! Black Emperor come together in an almost Adelaide-shattering event: Monumental.

Presented by The Holy Body Tattoo
Reviewed 4 March 2015

The Holy Body Tattoo, a Canadian dance company dedicated to pushing the human body as far as it can go. Godspeed You! Black Emperor, a Canadian post-rock band dedicated to pushing speaker systems as far as they will go. These two powerful groups come together in an almost Adelaide-shattering event: Monumental.

This performance is one that will shake and stun you to the core, leaving you weak at the knees and wondering “how can anyone even move like that?” The combination of The Holy Body Tattoo‘s impossible physicality and Godspeed You!‘s grandiose sound is a perfect one. It’s an artistic match made in heaven!

The performance space is rather sparse, featuring only ten illuminated blocks upon which our dancing heroes and anti-heroes stand (Caroline Gravel, Louise-Michel Jackson, Kim de Jong, Shay Kuebler, Louis-Elyan Martin, Esther Rousseau-Morin, Sovann Prom Tep, Michael Watts, Jamie Wright). Through their magnificent performances though, they transform the lonely space into an almost post-apocalyptic vision of an over-crowded and self-obsessed future.

Monumental really is an interpretive work. You’re not going to be handed any of the answers or have your hand-held. You’re going to be catapulted into a new, mute world and rocked to your core by the performances you witness there. Over the physical space hangs ominous and disjointed messages about relationships, abuse and the state of humanity.

While all this is very impressive and even a bit horrifying, it can seem a bit obtuse and abstract at the same time. I guess that’s part of the appeal of this sort of performance, though; the freedom they give you to generate your own meaning.

The Holy Body Tattoo manipulate the crowd brilliantly, even tricking the audience into thinking the show was over before exploding back into form and shocking everyone. They perform their dances with madness and military precision in equal parts, acting as jittery bundles of energy, almost like people possessed.

Of course, Godspeed You! Black Emperor came to the stage in spectacular form. Though we hardly saw them through the black screen (of misery!) we could feel their music. The sound system at the Festival Theatre could hardly stand up to them. They filled the entire space with their atmospheric sound, dredged up, seemingly, from some dark space beneath the Earth.

Monumental elicits all the emotive words used in this review and so much more. If you let it get under your skin, you’ll be feeling all sorts of emotions that you never thought you could feel watching a dance show.

Reviewed by James Rudd
Twitter: @james_wrr

Venue: Festival Theatre, Festival Centre, King William st
Season:  4-5 March
Duration: 1 hour 20 minutes
Tickets: $30-$79
Bookings: Book through the Adelaide Festival online or through BASS online, phone 131 246 (booking fees apply)


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