An Absolutely Stunning Performance

Reviewed by Brendan Daynes

NEWRETRO is an absolutely stunning performance installation that artfully blends the past and the present into a breathtaking display of contemporary dance.

Renowned contemporary choreographer Lucy Guerin has seamlessly interwoven fragments of her previous works, spanning over 21 years, to create NEWRETRO. This site-responsive work, that is both retrospective and speculative, is a remarkable hybrid version of an art installation and live performance that features an ensemble of 21 dancers who have expertly re-learnt the choreography of 21 of her previous works. NEWRETRO ingeniously crafts something entirely innovative and groundbreaking, and through the power of assemblage audiences are able to experience a dance exhibition like no other,

The performance takes place in the four galleries of the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, with Gallery One hosting a live performance featuring a remixed version of the 21 works. The material on display has been expertly reworked to produce something entirely new and includes often overlooked pieces of Guerin’s choreographic work that she feels particularly connected to. The 21 dancers perform in various ensemble and solo combinations for the three hour duration and audiences have the freedom to decide where to position or reposition themselves and interact with the dancers and other audience members, providing a fresh perspective on how the work in consumed.

The archival video documentation on display in Gallery Two is a perfect representation of the creative team’s ability to masterfully curate and present their work. The use of 21 television screens to showcase the source material is a stroke of genius, enabling viewers to fully immerse themselves in each individual dance fragment in a way that feels both immersive and cohesive.

In Gallery Three, the team showcases their dedication to their craft through their innovative use of technology. The solo dancer’s dialogue with a large projection is a beautiful representation of the process by which many of the dancers came to learn the choreography, highlighting the team’s attention to detail and commitment to transparency.

Gallery Four is another highlight of the installation, and a beautiful homage to a longstanding theme in Guerin’s work. The duets between women featured in this space are a powerful reminder of the emotional depth and resonance that can be achieved through dance, and a testament to the creative team’s ability to create work that is both technically and emotionally compelling.

The creative team have done an outstanding job in bringing this innovative dance installation to life. Lighting designer Paul Lim has masterfully illuminated the space, creating a dynamic and evocative atmosphere that perfectly complements the movement. The sound design and composition by Jethro Woodward is equally impressive, with a score that immerses the audience in the experience. The costumes designed by Kate Davis are simple but effective, allowing the focus to remain on the dancers and their movements. Curator Elyse Goldfinch has expertly curated the installation, creating a cohesive and engaging experience. The entire creative team must be commended for their exceptional work on this remarkable and pioneering approach to contemporary dance and art.

NEWRETRO invites the audience to fully immerse themselves in a living archive of Lucy Guerin Inc that captures the physical imprint of several generations of dancers, creating a beautiful synthesis of past and present. The individual works that served as inspiration have all been masterfully interwoven into the performance, resulting in a truly remarkable and captivating work of art. NEWRETRO is a brilliant and innovative work of contemporary dance that showcases the talent and vision of Lucy Guerin and her team. It is a must-see performance for anyone interested in dance, installation art, or contemporary performance that will leave you breathless and inspired.

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