Since 2014, Co3 Contemporary Dance, led by Artistic Director Raewyn Hill, has produced a wide range of projects and productions supporting WA dancers in multiple ways. However, the inaugural company AT HOME studio season, which features a series of short works in progress by five WA choreographers, marks Co3’s first big chance to bring WA dance makers (as well as dancers) into their fold.
The result reveals a diverse palette of dance art with a leaning towards the female experience.
Opening the show, choreographer Talitha Maslin presents her work Wasteland as an ode to nature in peril. She reads parts of TS Eliot’s poem of the same name (“…roots that cling, what branches grow…”) and as its four dancers – two men and two women – begin to spin and slide, they embody the struggling roots and branches of the prose of Eliot.
In various slow sequences, performers Nathan Turtur, Brent Rollins, Isabel Wartmann, and Sarah Chaffey stand out as forms of undergrowth curdle and crumble. Until now, Wasteland seems a wonderful and painful reminder of the environmental meltdowns we still don’t see.
There are more hidden worlds in motion in the work of choreographer Aimee Smith Once everything burns down to the ground. Smith has been away from the studio for the past six years, but he’s the most experienced artist on the bill, and it shows. His nascent work around ideas of fire (both destruction and rebirth) is already designed with structural flair and filled with cyclical prints.
Its two performers – Laura Boynes and Ella Rose Trew – are simply exquisite as they trace through Smith’s beautifully darkened lighting states. Their bodies are pillars of expert control, but sometimes their arms hang loose like strips of paper in the wind. The three artists here are ready and on target, and this work is an exciting prospect for building something more.
Then, when the lights come on, two scene hands enter. They spin in a tall, slender pole on a small black base, and as he stands there alone, our minds wonder what’s next. Is it pole dancing? Could it be…?
As performance progresses, Chromium, begins, dancer/choreographer Sarah Chaffey proves that pole dancing is more than some believe. As she twists and turns, she is a whirlwind of force, but her storyline is balanced with vulnerability and political advantage. It’s an interesting solo work by a female artist and I wonder where it might go next (could more artists: male, female, transgender be involved?). All in all, it seems to have potential with a lot more to explore.
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By contrast, Ella Rose Trew’s work stands as a touching cross-generational tribute to mothers who are also dancers, and is a very personal take on what it means to be a new mother and a dancer-artist. It’s a poetic statement with bare-bones journal entries, but overall it sounds like an island non-starter (which I realize is a big part of what it’s about, too).
Finally, May Greenberg’s solo The Interface is an intimate journey sweeping through the traditional and the new. She walks in half collapsed and rushes into the space carrying a small glass that clinks with the others as she moves. She then reaches for the sky and sings a moving Jewish song in plaintive tones. As a dancer, Greenberg is enigmatic and completely in control of space, but ultimately (and understandably) those ideas are always in search of a clear voice.
All in all, this new season helping WA choreographers develop new work seems like a great addition to the Co3 schedule and has hopefully opened the door to more avenues of dance makers and more stylish seasons. for an overview of their travels.
Co3 Contemporary Dance
Artistic Director: Raewyn Hill
WA State Theater Center
AT HOME was played from September 2 to 4, 2021