One of a Kind Immersive Dance Experience by Twisted Element
Create Or Die Space, Sydney, Saturday September 21
Reviewed by Alisha Coon
On the weekend I had the unique experience of attending, and being involved in, Twisted Element’s multi-sensory dance theatre experience RITUAL.
As we were ushered into an empty warehouse space, an eerie feeling of anticipation arose. We were seating on the floor in between white boxes that were placed in a large rectangle shape on the concrete floor. A procession of women with white faces sombrely entered the space and took a seat on the white boxes. We instantly became a part of the performance.
The dancers weaved through us, danced with us and interacted with every person in the room. We were instantly transported into “their” world, eagerly awaiting what they were going to do next and (if I am to be honest) a little hesitant for what they would make US do next!
Just as the boxes were moved around – so were the audience. We were herded into circles, asked to disperse, sit down, stand up and even join in the movements sometimes. My favourite part of audience participation was when the head of their “tribe” was in front of us, as if giving a speech. She directed us all to walk forwards and backwards, sway and slump from side to side in unison, and sporadically breaking out into a classic Backstreet Boys or Gangnam Style move for comic relief.
The movement language was mostly a mix of mime, gesture, repetitive swaying movements and robot-like broken movements. There was one scene in particular where the choreography was more traditional contemporary movement and the dancers really got to show off their technique and agility. The audience were moved to the outsides of the space as the white boxes created a pyramid shape in the centre with one dancer on the top under a spotlight. It was such a powerful scene as the dancers jumped and rolled in and out, leaving a trail of talcum powder as they moved.
I was very impressed with visuals created in such a simple space with minimal lighting, costume and set design. It is one thing to see effects like strobe lights and talcum powder on stage, but it was wonderful to see the audiences delight in being immersed in all the special effects. For the closing scene, we were given glasses with laser lights at the side of our heads. I felt like we had passed the initiation to become a part of their world and we all came together in a satisfying and peaceful conclusion to the show.
The whole evening was such a wonderful experience. I left filled with such wonder and pride at the amount of work and passion that went into the production. A huge congratulations to creative director Angela Hamilton and all that she is achieving with her unique company and approach. Bravo to all involved in RITUAL and I hope that this work has the opportunity to reach many more people in the future. It was truly a magical experience!