Review: CLOUDS ABOVE BERLIN

An extraordinary performance of two remarkable new dance works

By Anastasia Russell-Head

Clouds Above Berlin, a double-bill presented by choreographers Melanie Lane and Antony Hamilton, showcases two pieces very different in aesthetic and expression, yet united by a finely-honed, precisely-crafted movement and attention to detail – and are both firmly rooted in the urban.

Melanie Lane’s Titled Fawn opens the evening with an abstract study into space and sound. A lone dancer manipulates brick-shaped cardboard boxes, creating fantastical highrise developments – at times like a miniature Le Corbusier cityscape. Tiny speakers inside the boxes create interesting sound landscapes; especially effective when the boxes are in motion. The movement of the boxes creates a subtle tension and release without the involvement of narrative – we wonder what she will do with the boxes next, will she be able to carry them all, will some of them drop?

Breaking into this very contemplative mood is a too-short interlude of disjointed, almost grotesque dance – in platform shoes. Lane’s movements in this section are fluid and hypnotic, and the sudden burst of energy a welcome counterpoint to the restraint of the rest of the piece. 

After interval Antony Hamilton’s Black Project 1 opens with a post-apocalyptic, post-traumatic bleakness where two dancers, almost camouflaged against the grey-black set, move in fragments, seeming to express an urgent narrative. This is both moving and engaging, drawing the audience into an abstract world of tenderness, tragedy and discovery.

The graffiti-inspired techno brilliance of the later part of the piece is simply stunning, with sound, light and movement all combining and overlapping to create an arresting and captivating panorama. Hamilton uses simple techniques, such as peeling off strips of masking tape, to create striking effects that look like digital wizardry.

I walked into the North Melbourne Town Hall not knowing what to expect from this show, and came out with a new appreciation for choreography, movement, and physicality. Highly recommended.

Arts House, North Melbourne Town Hall
Until Sunday 11 March
Fri 9, 7.30pm
Sat 10, 2pm & 7.30pm
Sun 11, 5pm

Tickets: $25 / $20

Bookings: 9322 3713 or www.artshouse.com.au

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