A Journey into the Abyss
Reviewed by Brendan Daynes
On the last day of winter, Chapel off Chapel opened its doors and an audience gathered for a night of artistic exploration at the hands of the Lion Heart Dance Company. FAE, the latest creation from Director and Producer Benjamin Curé, proves to be an enigmatic masterpiece, defying conventional narrative structures to beckon us into an abstract and mysterious realm.
Prior to the show the audience was treated to a welcome from Benjamin who hints at the unconventional nature of the performance. FAE invites us to dive headfirst into the world of fantasy, where understanding is secondary to the experience. Benjamin encourages us to release ourselves from the burden of needing to comprehend everything and to just sit back and enjoy.
The heart and soul of FAE resides in the choreography. The dancers, led by the remarkable ensemble of Andrew J Liu, Amber Gommers, Caitlin Harvey, Jemma Craig, Lucy Mckenzie-Stripp, Rachel Owens, and Stefanie Grogan, execute movements with a fluidity that is both captivating and mesmerising. Their grace and athleticism shine through, creating moments of sheer brilliance on stage. One of the most intriguing aspects of the show is the masked ensemble, portrayed by Arianna Jaggard, Bridget Lyte, Carla Formoso, Ella Daly, Jade Kempton, Jorgia Neyland, Lisa-Nadine Tan, and Mikayla Wisneske. These masked beings, with their hard exteriors, exude an aura of menace that keeps the audience entrapped in their enigmatic world. Their movements are precise and controlled, creating an uncanny juxtaposition to the fluidity of the main dancers. This fluidity is demonstrated during the standout scene which involves the clever incorporation of silks. These ethereal fabrics become an integral part of the choreography, extending the dancers’ movements into a realm where gravity seems to lose its grip. This fusion of bodies and silks adds a layer of visual poetry that transcends traditional dance.
Rosie Rai’s original musical composition is nothing short of genius. The music serves as a lifeline, connecting the disparate and jarring moments within the tumultuous journey. The score, built around the notes F, A, and E, weaves a melodic tapestry that becomes the heartbeat of the performance. It’s a collaborative masterpiece, and Rai’s ability to build complexity and layers is awe-inspiring.
The production’s visual aesthetics are equally striking. The costumes, masterfully designed by Daniel Ham and Benjamin Curé, contribute significantly to the show’s otherworldly feel. Shapes, lines, and colour palettes are carefully chosen, and each costume tells a story of its own.
Lighting, designed by Benjamin Curé, enhances the mood and atmosphere, casting the performers into a spellbinding contrast of light and dark. The play of light and shadow adds depth to the narrative, immersing the audience further into the surreal odyssey.
FAE by Lion Heart Dance Company is a unique and thought-provoking piece of contemporary dance that transcends traditional storytelling. It immerses the audience in a world of fantasy and abstraction, leaving us with the freedom to draw our own interpretations and personal connections.
FAE had it’s premiere season from 31st August to 3rd September and played at Chapel off Chapel. For more information on this show or the work of Lion Heart Dance Company please visit https://www.lionheartdancecompany.com/