Reviewed Wednesday March 10th 2010 (See Festival Guide for dates, times, etc.)
Presented by The Adelaide Festival in association with Compagnie Montalvo-Hervieu, France (A José Montalvo and Dominique Hervieu production, 2008).
Bookings: BASS outlets 131 246 or http://www.adelaidefestival.com.au
The music of George Gershwin (September 26, 1898 – July 11, 1937), the songs having lyrics written by his older brother, Ira (December 6, 1896 – August 17, 1983), is strongly based in jazz, but incorporates elements from many other sources, particularly French and German composers such as Ravel, Debussy, Berg and Schoenberg, as well as the Russian composer, Shostakovich.
This production is set to his music and, likewise, shows the influence of an eclectic mix of dance styles. There is a nod to the great days of Broadway musicals and Hollywood’s musical extravaganzas. A huge screen, behind the shanty town building upstage centre, is used for the projection of a range of images, beginning with the performers diving into the water, same naked, others dressed. As the artists begin to dance their images are superimposed on those in the video. More aquatic scenes accompany other segments as each song or melody produces new and exciting dances.
There is everything from jazz, tap, hip-hop and pointe work through to break dancing. Throw in some sleight of hand, some singing, a sprinkling of comedy, some acrobatics and a gargled rendition of The Man I Love and there is clearly no shortage of variety in this show. The fifteen superb dancers, some trained, others self taught, each contribute a great deal of solo work, with even the occasional pas de deux or ensemble piece focussing on individual talents. Different styles performed at the same time seem to work together rather than clash, united by the music.
The second half, with music from Porgy and Bess, Gershwin’s folk opera, takes a sudden turn to a darker motif, the images reflecting the trials and tribulations faced by African Americans in the 1920s and 30s as well as more recently.
This is an energetic, well constructed and engaging show, filled with constant variations in dance style and much more beyond the dance itself, adding to the fascination. You will not be disappointed.
Reviewed by Barry Lenny, Glam Adelaide Arts Editor.