Review: SKELETON at Dance Massive

Getting down to the bare bones

By Myron My

Choreographed by Larissa McGowan and featuring in the Dance Massive festival this month, Skeleton has a set of characters discover the hidden stories of pop-culture icons including headphones, baseball bats and a BMX bike.

Skeleton

The performance definitely lives up to its name. The stage is skeletal: the bare essentials are the set of lights along the back wall and just a handful of props. The dancers wear white, grey or black clothing, so no complex colours are on display here. Meanwhile, there is the clever staging device of two black sliding panels that constantly move back and forth across the stage throughout the performance. As they do, they drop off or pick up performers and/or props with such precision timing that it really is a blink-and-you-miss-it exchange.

McGowan’s choreography is brilliant and all the dancers have put some extreme effort and dedication into executing it. Jethro Woodward’s score is as haunting as it is mesmerizing as the dancers move, contort and manipulate their bodies to some extreme choreographed sequences. The interesting inclusion of various film voice-overs and the incorporation of those dialogues into the performance were well-crafted.

Despite an impressive performance by all, including Tobia Booth-Remmers, Lisa Griffiths and Lewis Rankin, it was the intense presence and obvious skill of Marcus Louend and McGowan that really left an impression on my mind.

Yet as an audience member, whenever I see a performance of any sort, I want to walk away having felt something, and on the whole, I just didn’t experience this with this production. As mentioned earlier, I appreciated the strong technical performances but Skeleton lacked an emotional connection for me to drive it home. This might again have been a deliberate decision considering the piece’s title, but it may also have to do with its length, for even though the performance time falls just under an hour, it did start to become repetitious and the amazement over what we had earlier witnessed did start to wane.

Skeleton is an interesting piece of contemporary dance exploring pop icons from the past and how very easily they can be forgotten. It’s a very impressive performance but with only the unsatisfactory bare bones of a narrative on offer, perhaps more fleshing out of the ‘story’ behind it is actually needed.

Venue: The Malthouse, 113 Sturt St, Southbank

Season: Until 23 March | 8:00pm, Sat 5:00pm

Tickets: $49 Full | $41 Conc

Bookings: www.dancemassive.com.au

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