Review: Short+Sweet Dance 2014 (Short+Sweet)

shortsweetdance1Venue: New Theatre (Newtown NSW), Jan 21 – Feb 2, 2014
Festival Directors: Joshua Lowe & Adam Wheeler
Photography by Pia

Theatre review
Short+Sweet Dance is a platform for emerging and professional choreographers from a wide range of genres to develop and showcase their work. It is also an opportunity for the Aystralian dance community to share and exchange ideas. This review is based on the Gala performance, which presented best pieces from this year’s festival, where more than 45 works from all over Australia featured over two weeks. It is noteworthy that a vast majority of performers are very young, but their abilities range widely. One of the strengths of this collection of works is the way in which each dancer’s capacity is taken into account, and no one is required to stretch too far beyond their faculties. The program is also memorable for its diversity, with artists from different backgrounds working across a good range of genres.

We commence with Familiar Strangers by Joseph Simons, who bases his abstraction on celebrity culture, and expresses a point of view that is characteristic of queer young men. Kirsty Fromholtz’s And Then Patterns (pictured above) features four dancers, each with a unique way of moving, is tender and probably the most emotionally engaging piece in the show.

Burlesque styles are explored in Natalie Pelarek’s Sink Or Swim, and Eva Crainean’s Girl Getting Bitter, both with a strong female presence, dealing with themes of gender difference. Sink Or Swim in particular, handles the subject matter very well, with extremely effective use of humour and sees Renelle Loretta Jones’ outrageous comic chops stealing the show.

Other stand outs include Jay Bailey’s Jaybird, which features a completely live soundtrack by the incredibly impressive beatboxer L.C.Beats. Also from the world of hip hop is Amber McCartney, whose interpretation of “popping and locking” in Hard-Boiled Wonderland, which utilises precise physical articulation brings to the program a sense of wonder and intrigue. No Fungus, No Tree by Sean Marcs and Anna Healey is an unusual work that features two very focussed and captivating performers. Their segment using Yazoo’s 1982 recording “Only You” is beautifully minimal and highlights the fantastic chemistry between the two. Nyunga by Thomas E.S. Kelly delivers an indigenous perspective and stars dancing sisters, Taree and Caleena Sansbury, who are truly delightful and graceful in their quiet confidence.

Our young dancers need to be congratulated for the training they put into their vocations. The amount of dedication in their art is evident in their skill and on their flesh. Their exploration into human physicality and visual mediums provides us with new and enlightening ways of looking at our own bodies and relationships with this vast universe in which we dwell. List of prize winners below.

Outstanding Choreography (joint winners):

  • Sean Marcs and Anna Healey for creating and performing No Fungus, No Tree – exploring the world of the symbiotic; and
  • Brianna Kell and Alexandra Andrews for creating and performing Salt – an inspired investigation

The People’s Choice (audience voted):

  • Swing Dancin’ – Natasha Crane’s infectious and quirky mix of styes performed by 25 artists

Award for Audacious Work:

  • Eva Crainean for Girl Getting Bitter – a comical, sexy and vengeful piece commenting on serious social issues and the femme fatale stereotype.

Outstanding Female Dancer (shared):

  • Amber McCartney for Hard-Boiled Wonderland – a movement study inspired by the work of Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami; and
  • Rosslyn Wythes for /Lu:p-/   – inspired by entrances, exits and the cyclical process where, within each loop, different information is revealed.

Outstanding Male Dancer: 

  • Harrison Hall for his solo work Melekh – “casting a shadow of light from within the darkness”.

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