‘Inspired’ by Gary Lang NT Dance Company

Saturday 3 September 7:30pm at Cube 37, Frankston Arts Centre – 50 min. duration.

Gary Lang NT Dance Company, with dancers Catherine Young, Michele Dott, Bryn Wackett, Kara Handsberg and Darren Edwards, delighted a ‘family’ audience with two contemporary dance pieces. The first was an airy flirtation with Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake and the second, an earthy Indigenous exploration of the spirit realm.

gary-lang-nt-dance-mokuy

The synthesised music recording of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake with overlaid NT bird sounds in the first dance piece induced a wide, open-sky atmosphere reminiscent of the outback Australian landscape. The performers used classical dance influences with synchronised movements and black lace and tulle costumes to accentuate delicate swan-like gestures.

The second piece immediately exuded a transformation into a ghostly realm with the use of vivid lighting and dark shadows, gaunt expressions and the use of white, liquid body-clay. The wet clay was ‘dipped into’ throughout the piece to increasingly cover each other until the dancers and the stage were practically white. Entitled Journey of the Soul from a larger work, Mokuy, the piece expressed the post-death journey of the human spirit, drawing upon Gary Lang’s experiences with youth suicide in his community.

Digeridoo-like drones articulated with haunting Australian bird calls drew the audience into the earthy, sensuous dance movements. I was particularly stirred by the male-female duets in which each female dancer took turns intertwining with the male ‘spirit’ dancer.

The performance was followed by a Q&A session in which Gary, who identifies as a Larrakia man, explained that several of the movements used in Journey of the Soul are borrowed from traditional Indigenous dances that he has seen performed by his family. As these ‘borrowed’ movements are intensely meaningful to Indigenous people, Gary takes great care to ask the permission of his family as to how and when particular gestures can be used. Gary’s conversation with the audience, in which he declared that all people he meets are welcomed into his life as ‘family’, encouraged a feeling of connectedness to the Dance Company, our country and our communities. Gary Lang NT Dance Company’s performance of Inspired is a fine example of art that is not only uplifting, beautiful and expressive but encourages social unity by fostering warmth and openness between different cultures.

Copyright © 2016 Jade Barker