Posted on 21 June 2013.
June 19, 2013
By Rebecca Martin.
On a freezing cold mid-week evening, an eclectic crowd of circus lovers packed the theatre at Australia’s premiere circus institute to see what the second year students had to offer.
The National Institute of Circus Arts (NICA) provides aspiring circus performers with a three year Bachelor of Circus Arts that readies the students for a demanding career under the big top. One False Move drew its inspiration from the events and characters that inhabit the fictional world of the Film Noir genre.
The Film Noir theme gave the performance an almost seedy undertone that mingled well with the light hearted aspects of the genre and set the stage for myriad tricks, tumbles, trapeze, tightrope and of course, comedy.
While One False Move had all the elements of a circus show you would hope to see (German wheel, tumbling, slapstick, hula hoops, juggling and balancing acts), what was most entertaining were the moments where an ordinary object was utilised in a unique and unexpected way. There was a fantastic number that involved the whole ensemble and a humble wooden table. The performers tumbled, leaped, crawled and twirled over, under and around the table. It was brilliant. Another routine that bears special mention involved an egg and a single performer. It was expertly performed and thoroughly entertaining.
Meredith Kitchen and Megan Jones co-directed One False Move and the influence of Kitchen as the students’ dance teacher was obvious. The show incorporated dance more than I have ever seen at a NICA show before and the students moved with added refinement.
The strength and ability of the performers is truly extraordinary and it was only when a hula hoop was dropped or a ball went astray that the audience was reminded that this was a student production and not a group of professionals. Even more amazingly, these are only second year students so I can’t wait to see what they can do next year!
Photo (top): NICA students perform One False Move. Photo by David Wyatt.
Posted in Australian Dance Reviews
Posted on 04 February 2011.
State Theatre, Melbourne
By Paul Ransom
Rarely has an evening at the theatre been so thoroughly provocative. Mulan is nothing if not intriguing.
The positives are obvious as the stage abounds with all manner of acrobatic wizardry. Spectacular, athletic, intensely technical tricks are performed with high tempo martial precision; and all to a resounding soundtrack. The lighting effects are subtle and often quite beautiful, the costumes bold and colourful and the heroic set simple in all its constructivist glory. Accordingly, the audience clapped along and gasped in time.
But – and it’s a big but – you can’t help but wonder what all this somersaulting showiness is for. Before long it becomes clear that Mulan represents the victory of spectacle over content. Sure, director Wang Yafei and her well drilled troupe have based this supposed ‘tale’ around an ancient Chinese myth but what shines out is not the story of a young girl joining the army in place of her father but a kind of overbearing triumphalism.
Mulan celebrates militarism and militancy. It places technical perfection above individual expression and unashamedly shows off the power of the State. If this show had originated in North Korea we would all be gasping in horror at the hubris of a mad dictatorship rather than applauding the leaps and bounds of the obviously brilliant acrobats. Stalin would have loved it.
A very smart Roman once suggested that the key to everlasting power was bread and circuses; and this show is the modern Beijing equivalent -party approved and ready to take your mind off the fact that granny just got shipped off to the gulag.
In addition to celebrating the infinite glory of the Dear Leader, Mulan is also a veritable mountain of corn. It’s like McChina: a flashy, spangly Communist Party cheeseburger. I mean, really – baton juggling? Haven’t we all seen dreadlocked hippies doing that?
Interestingly, when the curtain finally came down the applause was … well, kinda five and a half out of ten. Seems it wasn’t just me who found all this spectacle hollow. Sorry Emperor, but it looks like we’re not all about to join your glorious, all conquering army.
Posted in Australian Dance Reviews