Adelaide Fringe 2012
“Wyrd…with grace” is a moving scape of body, light and sound—a collaboration of arts that is perhaps more of an installation than a dance work. Each component is quite engaging and eloquent, all existing in a languid realm that intends to “explore pathways of transformation”. It is a performance event you would imagine seeing at an outdoor arts festival amid a crowd of swaying smiling young environmentalists.
As the audience enters the studio space of the Holden Street Theatres, a gauze and flesh-stockinged body lies folded and averted in a flickering green circle projected from above. Several hurricane lamps hang or sit in the space with the sound of dripping water and building gusts of wind. As the body begins to slowly open and close the overhead video projection begins to open and shift with the body’s outline adding a sort of scratched grid around a central ellipse, a morphing mapping topography. Very much in the style of Chunky Move’s “Glow” the motion graphics track the movement of the dancer as she rolls and shifts across the floor.
The dancer, Alexandra Knox is Hepburn elfin-esque in face and haircut but with long slim limbs that undulate and circle almost relentlessly throughout, mesmerising but not challenging in choreographic development or dynamic range. Her movement is beautifully placed and technically articulate but remains in the same mode across the distinct sections of the piece, only re-directed slightly to echo a tabla beat or acknowledge a shift in light. Knox hasn’t quite found her performance persona amid this, her gaze mostly averted and introverted except for a couple of forced smiles directed toward the audience in a second section which moves her up from the floor and onto her legs. Knox has the potential to really extend, physically and imaginatively, and to take command of the space and our attention in spite of the trance of sound and light around her.
On three occasions Knox exits the space to change costume and re-enter a slightly evolved world of changed hue and additional sounds of bushland exterior or sweet jazz vocals. Re-draped in different costumes created by David Browne (who adds bridal design to his fashion portfolio) our attention is guided from gossamer winged arms to red draped torso then to bare legs beneath a mushrooming satin top. In many ways it was the design rising to the surface, with the dancer’s body serving as fleshy set. The video graphics moved into the background as the work progressed, shifting plane to create floating shapes on the walls from moving (‘intelligent’) floor lights above a brooding red or night-sky blue floor.
“Wyrd…with grace” may stay in the same aesthetic realm throughout but it is a pleasant realm to visit. It shows promising and adept young artists negotiating their respective technologies and each other with sensitivity and conscience.