BWW Reviews: REASSESSMENT - A DOUBLE BILL Highlights the Choreography of Daniel Jaber
Reassessment - a Double Bill, directed and choreographed by Daniel Jaber, begins with Jaber in a solo work, Too far again, not far enough..., followed by a piece for four dancers, Agile, with Alexander Baden-Bryce, Madeline Edwards, Kialea-Nadine Williams, and Kimball Wong. Jaber was announced as the new resident choreographer of Leigh Warren Dancers in April and will take over as Artistic Director in 2015, with Leigh Warren mentoring him initially.
Jaber's solo work won awards at the 2010 Adelaide Fringe and he has tightened and further developed the piece since then. The second work is also a piece that has been further developed and refined from its earlier version. He began his piece with the concept of self-worth, expanding to embrace other ideas of worthiness, our perceived worth in the eyes of other, their worth in our eyes, and within this he encompasses gender identity.
Jaber gives a magnificent demonstration of control, a myriad of quick, intimate movements of the hands and arms, flowing sections, moments of prefect stillness and more, exhibiting the emotional ideas within the work of fear of rejection, anxiety, self-doubt, fear of difference and being different, the effcts of commercialism on relationships and so much more. His dancing is illuminated by the animations of Matthias Waldt, the sound compositions of Thomas Jeker and the lighting of Daniel Barber. These three combine to add a great deal to the moods presented by Jaber in this remarkable work.
The quartet then looks at the traditions of classical ballet and suggests that it has perpetuated perversions in the roles and attributes expected of men and women, purporting that the ballerina is a phallic symbol. Gender roles are blurred and body image considered. One couple's dancing conforms to the expected norm, while the other couple swap role, the woman dancing the man's part and vice versa. The two women dance together, and the two men dance together. None of the four fit the somewhat ridiculous physical shapes required by ballet companies, overly slim, tall, often seeming almost androgynous.
There is a playfulness, a lightness to this work that the dancers embrace, enjoying their chance to poke fun at the establishment. They parody classical ballet but, at the same time, demonstrate that they do have the necessary skills to dance in this style, as evidenced by many of the classical steps and positions, and the pointe work, that is then juxtaposed against, and blended with contemporary dance and modern thought. The high level of training and experience the four dancers bring to this piece is extensive, including such renowned institutions as the Melbourne Ballet Company and the Australian Dance Theatre. Not surprisingly, they understand both sides of the question and create some convincing dialogues within the piece that do, indeed, leave one thinking about the history and culture of dance.
Jaber is set to be a great asset to the Leigh Warren Dancers and is establishing himself solidly as an innovative and informed choreographer. It is with great interest that I look forward to seeing what the future holds for Adelaide audiences.