assembly

On saturday night, i had the great fortune of being able to check out the last show of the performance Assembly, on as part of the melbourne arts festival.

a collaboration between victorian opera and chunky move dance company, i was intrigued by the outline in the festival program, and by the seemingly unlikely pairing.

the tickets were SUPER expensive, so my best friend (a dancer) and i almost didn’t go. until she overheard her dance teacher talking about how amazing it was. so we rifled through our possible discount options and, thanks to us both being RRR subscribers, got ourselves some cheap tix (still $60, mind).

after a bit of a kerfuffle with our seating, we settled in for what is probably going to be my favourite event of all year.

 i’m not kidding.

 it ticked so many boxes for me that within about 10 minutes of the performance, i had tears in my eyes from the beauty and ‘right’-ness of it. i know, so Ancient Greek of me, but whatever.

It was just stunning.

 I’m not so great at writing/talking about dance*, so please excuse the simplistic review, but it was fuckin’ ace.

The work was essentially about crowd movement. Gideon’s discription of it in the program outlined it well. He wrote of seeing choreographic a group as a single entity and how that translates into public gatherings. Each of the ‘movements’ within the piece addressed different types of crowd movement – the collective form, the beauty of patterned chaos, the swarm and how and individual can divide a crowd so quickly.

The dynamics between the performers was incredible and they must have just practiced and practiced and practiced. It was a perfect example of controlled mess.

Singers vs Dancers
As the program mentioned, it wasn’t an operatic piece that was ‘illustrated’ by dancers. It was truly a collaborative piece: the singers danced and the dancers sang. There were a small group of prinicpals from each side who led significant pieces, and supported by about 40 all-rounders.

Minimal set
The set was a brilliant double-sided, wooden staircase that added dynamic and cluey percussive elements to the dances. The movement thread up and over, up and across, down and over the stairs.
It added a percussive element to the otherwise accompanyless music, which I thought was pretty nice. And i almost wished for a little bit of tonal variation in the steps – not much, but just enough to click me.

Colour 
The costume design was so amazing. The design disease in me just went bonkers. Everyone was dressed in a perfect blend of colour and tone – elements of neutrality and hue, with divisions possible along colour, tone and temperature too.
The scene about (which i pinched from the SMH review) was a fantastic haka-esque battle between warm and cool sides, with operatic, but tribal yelling and beautiful but warrior-like movement. 
Sound of the crowd
Obviously i found some areas specifically relevent to my work in it. The sound of a crowd all talking at once is amazing to listen to. I do it regularly in my listening projects, and it was a new, yet familiar experience to listen to it in a framed performance.
And I also enjoyed a section, early on in the piece, in which the whole crowd tilted their heads, as though collectively listening – to each other, or to the audience, or just to provide a welcome balance to the previous cacophony of rhetoric en masse.
 * which is why sarah is going to start a dance blog soon. when i get off her back about it :)
thanks for subscribing to she sees red by lauren brown. xx

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