Keir Choreographic Award ★★★½
Carriageworks, June 23

If you go to this program of four new works expecting to see dance, you will be surprised. There is barely a dance step in sight. But the combination of imagination with movement and musical skills add up to an engrossing couple of hours.

Lucky Lartey and Vishnu Arunasalam. Credit:Shane Rozario

Each of the choreographers has written a thoughtful and complex program note about their concept of the work. While it is not always easy to match what we see to what is written, each inspires and holds the mind of the viewer in its own way.

Rebecca Jensen opens the program with Slip, in which she plays with time, with the help of a colleague contributing live sound. Starting in a graceful long dress from years gone by, Jensen sits centre stage to delve into a modern backpack, pull out a packet of crisps and chomp them noisily – a sound amplified through film’s Foley technique by her colleague, Aviva Endean.

The elegant gown is slipped off with the assistance of an audience member in the front row, who unzips it, and in current practice gear, Jensen demonstrates a graceful gesture towards choreography and her approach to time and space before the two of them slip into luminous gloves and continue in darkness that gives us only their hands to look at – and enjoy.

Lucky Lartey’s Exoticism, performed with Vishnu Arunasalam, doesn’t live up to the promise of the title or the nice idea of taping a vision of a body on a board and posing to match it.

Two finely tuned male dancers moving arms and torsos as they stand in silhouette make a promising start, but the development doesn’t happen.

Follies of God by Raghav Handa.Credit:Lucy Parakhina

Joshua Pether’s As Below, So Above defies any kind of description that could communicate the spiritual feeling it conveys through walking, sitting around a real fire, and a single burst of whirling action. Two of the four performers are musicians and they make a powerful contribution to the strong impact of this piece, probably more mental than physical.

Raghav Handa has the improbable prop of a giant tyre as he tackles Follies Of God. He climbs on it to deliver a diatribe and hammers it sexually among a variety of movement and musical themes that unravel his written note about the “seduction of violence” on a battlefield, and the influence of the Bhagavad Gita on both peaceful Gandhi and the genocidal Third Reich. It seemed too ambitious for a short work.

This program continues until Saturday, June 25. A second program runs from June 30 to July 2. Both go to Melbourne and the winner will be announced when audiences have seen both and voted.

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