Arts House, North Melbourne, August 24
Review by Emre Icdem
Nightdance is an experimental project by choreographer and performer Melanie Lane. It is promoted as “a pulsating new work that investigates the physical experience of the nightclub, and its seductive promise of transformation, primal temptation, and sublime release.” It is a 3-person show presented by dancers Lane, Lillian Steiner and Gregory Lorenzutti.
I had the pleasure of seeing this hour-long show that takes you to a state of constant ecstasy. If you are a person who enjoys the nightlife and ‘clubbing’, you will effortlessly relate to many elements that are staged in Nightdance.
Nightdance is the second world premiere dance event held at The Arts House, following on from Stephanie Lake’s Pile of Bones which premiered earlier in August. Together, the two shows are pushing the bounds of contemporary dance and merging it more with theatre to become entertainment.
It starts with the scene where the performers move in slow-motion while you are listening to upbeat electronic tunes. The contrast of the slow-motion dance (drunk state) and music that emphasised rhythm and motion was very interesting. Lane collaborates with electronic music producer Chris Clark and light artist Ben ‘Bosco’ Shaw. The light effects, music and the slow-motion choreography was a very successful depiction of the ‘drunken state’ that you often experience at a nightclub.
While the performers keep moving in a smooth way, the lights go on and off as if you are blinking your eyes or trying to stay focused, awake but slowly losing control.
Making the choreography of the ‘slow-motion dance’ is really quite difficult to deliver convincingly as the performer’s need complete control over their bodies, while keeping balance and moving smoothly like liquid. It clearly requires a lot of effort and one can definitely appreciate how good these dancers must be.
It was a combination of individual performances and group items. Even when they were staging the choreography as a trio, every dancer had individual moves but it was expressed in a synchronised harmony. There were moments when the cast did ‘voodoo’ on you and triggered your inner animal. They expressed the effects of the nightlife using their bodies as an erotic experience. The male dancer, Gregory Lorenzutti (whom I had the pleasure to meet after the show) was amazing! The vibrations on his body were visible from a distance. He used a black fabric as if it were part of his body; they almost became one.
Apart from the three dancers who successfully and truthfully depicted the nightclub scene, there were other characters we met throughout the show. The jazz singer, the shiny ‘mother monster’/mother of sins/the glamorous night creature, the laser dancer… and ‘the Mama’. Here, Lane collaborated with local entertainment artists from exotic, burlesque and club backgrounds.
The ‘Mama’ closes the curtain at the end of the show and you immediately think “when mama’s gone, the thrill is gone.” The elegant way she used her body was a statement that said “Come, my children! This party is finished. We will continue our entertainment in a different world, at a different time.”
Nightdance was more about the story telling than the choreography. It was very good… and very sexual. To say I enjoyed this unique production would be an understatement. I had the pleasure of seeing both Nightdance and Pile of Bones at the Arts House in North Melbourne this month, and can say that while both were challenging and confronting at times, there were captivating and told a story I was not expecting. I hope we keep seeing these kinds of works created for Australian audiences, and I would highly recommend seeing this fantastic show if it runs again in the future.