REVIEW | Concrete Impermanence

Premiere Dance Work Explores Concrete Objects Interacting with Human Movement

Alison Currie’s ‘Concrete Impermanence’

Substation, Newport, VIC, Wednesday August 15

Reviewed by Caterina Kuljis

Alison Currie’s premiere contemporary dance work, Concrete Impermanence, was intriguing, innovative, edgy and abstract, exploring the fragility of existence and the strength of the human spirit.

As the show commenced, we were greeted with two bodies lying down with a fanned cardboarded-concertina embracing each of them and an archway slowly moving across the back. Then a loud ‘boom-crash’ sound started a series of scattered lighting flickers across the floor and two dancers (Alison Currie, Harrison Richie-Jones) emerged from rippled concertina items showcasing the fusion and bond of human interaction with inanimate objects. Their rhythmic, repetitive movement flowed through their whole bodies.

Stephen Sheehan, the third performer floats through the dance and places the versatile, honeycombed corrugated-concertina blocks so that they may be stretched to embrace, restrict, surround and envelope the dancers through this storyline. The dancers constantly change and contort with these concertina items, that move like accordions that stretch and convert into recognisable everyday items such as lounges, ottomans, wheels, fans, books and beds enhancing the sense of human scale. This dance work fuses movement, art, sculpture and distinct imagery into poetic beauty.

Connection is the essence as these three performers explore a range of emotions from being free to defeated, devastated or even trapped and then re-born. Their faces are motionless but their emotions are heightened through their movements as they roll, crawl, and slink across the floor becoming one with this concertina phenomenon. As humanity evolves so does this dance work.

Contemporary dance can be layered in itself and then, by introducing the element of props, can add another dimension of complexity to the mix but the dancers made it look effortless.

It was incredible that something so apparently paper thin could hold the weight of the dancers and create such a diverse range of shapes, yet still have fluid movement. After the show I spoke with Stephen Sheehan and learned that the concertina material was in fact a building material that is used overseas called ‘molo’. At times the products looked weightless, as it waved in and out of shapes, and at times it appeared as heavy as concrete.

The landscape of the floor was very bare and raw, with a few crumbled pieces of paper, corrugated blocks, and snippets of lighting on one area. This highlighted the movement and flow of the individual shining pieces to couple/trio integration and the wide range of versatility through the Molo product used across the floor.

Matthew Adey’s lighting design was strong with contrasting amber tones and rolling lights to enhance the silhouettes, almost protecting and embracing the performers. The costumes reflected an urban touch of grey and neutral tones which connected with the concrete and the brown and white corrugated objects.

Alisdair Macindoe’s sound and music that accompanied this show was layered and jarred and at times soft and nurturing. The layering of white-noise, hustle and bustle, people laughing, babies crying, and cars reversing to industrial, mechanical, construction noises to sharp crazy pitches accompanied the movements perfectly and was sublime.

The visual screen at the front of stage was aimed for the hearing impaired and reflected the sounds through red noise waves and movement; the more dramatic the piece the more red and erratic it became on screen. Initially it was hard to comprehend, but as the dance work evolved it worked well.

As this modern dance work is broad in its scope, so too can the interpretation vary from person to person. It will inspire you to ponder on the fluidity, challenges, diversity, fragility and wholeness of the human existence.

Do not search too deep in this show but rather enjoy the hypnotic rhythmic movements and how this dance work mimics the repetitive movements reflecting life’s patterns: that of tranquillity, repetition, destruction, rebirth and rebuilding!

The dance pieces are innovative and ingenious which encourages you to explore the complexity of life: layered and transcendent; nothing is fixed or set in stone; and that the human spirit and determination will see us through regardless of what you may face. Concrete Impermanence is a great dance piece to see!

Wednesday 15 – Saturday 18 August @7.30pm
The SUBSTATION, 1 Market Street Newport, Victoria
Bookings: or (03) 391 1110



Read our previous article on this show here:

Concrete Impermanence Melds Dance and Art

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