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BWW Review: OZASIA FESTIVAL 2021 - SOMEWHERE, EVERYWHERE, NOWHERE at Space Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre

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A collaboration between the two award-winning choreographers

BWW Review: OZASIA FESTIVAL 2021 - SOMEWHERE, EVERYWHERE, NOWHERE at Space Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre Reviewed by Ray Smith, Thursday 21st October 2021

A somewhat sinister sound of wind and a pulse fills the darkened Space Theatre, and heralds the beginning of Somewhere, Everywhere, Nowhere, a collaboration between the two award-winning choreographers: Alison Currie and Yui Kawaguchi. As the stage lights rise, Kawaguchi is revealed squatting on a sloped form, like a rooftop, in apparent contemplation of surroundings invisible to her audience. A large tangle of optic fibres hangs over the empty half of the stage, the tips of each fibre lit with white light. There is obviously power but, as yet, no purpose.

The regularity of the background pulse is washed over by the sound of traffic as the dancer rises to her feet and arches backwards in impossible defiance of the laws of gravity, forming angles and arcs with her bare arms that twist and reform with such mechanical precision that I swear I could hear a click as each new shape was formed.

Her bright red trousers and shoes, in brittle contrast to the grey of the roof she was standing on, emphasised the stark, sharp angles of her body like a highlighter pen on text. As she moves her feet push against the sloping surface it splits, revealing not one, but two triangular forms, both hollow like an attic space, a pair of garrets waiting for a starving and isolated artist to take up contemplative residence in each of them, identical, but mirroring each other, one to the East, and the other to the West, the audience watching from the North. The interior of the western form illuminates, revealing Currie, moving like a trapped animal within the strict confines of the form, exploring every square millimetre of the tiny space, looking for a way out.

Sascha Budimski's soundscape of whirling winds and electronic pulses is supplemented with the sound of traffic, heard from inside a moving vehicle. The driver's sighs suggest frustration, the click of an indicator added to the original audio pulses as the car changes direction through a sea of traffic, isolated like a small boat on an endless sea.

Currie seems to become aware of Kawaguchi's movements on her roof, and the pair begin a crude conversation of knocks and scrapes, separated only by the thin sheet of roofing, like prisoners in solitary confinement tapping the water pipes in search of someone else in the same boat. Kawugachi moves to peer over the edge as Currie peeps out and up. They meet, but that meeting only highlights their separation and isolation.

Kawaguchi retreats to her own tiny garret, to sit on its sloping roof despondently, as Currie mirrors the action, and the pair sit and slide down their respective rooves, saving themselves before they slide off into an invisible chasm, and clambering back up again to repeat the process.

Fabian Bleisch's stark, minimalist set is brutal in its simplicity, but is softened by subtle and effective lighting that leaves each dancer crisply detailed against a barren and ambiguous backdrop, the twisted coils of optic cables waiting patiently.

As the dancers leave the confines of their restrictive cubicles and begin to mirror each other's movements, the differences between the two characters become more obvious.

The repetitive movements that they make seem to be identical, but sometimes slip out of synch, and Kawaguchi's razor-sharp precision is juxtaposed with Currie's softer, fluid motion. It was like the same, simple melody being played by two musicians who cannot hear each other, whose metronomes do not quite match, one playing staccato and the other legato, one playing eight bars, the other only five; the same, but very different.

Eventually, they are drawn to the tangled mass of fibre-optic cables hanging from the roof, and Kawaguchi begins slowly and reverently to untangle it, as if seeking order from chaos, or perhaps just simply trying to find something to do, something to break the monotony. Both dancers become entangled in separate strands of cable, Currie lying on one of the sloped rooves, Kawaguchi on the floor beside her.

The soundscape morphs into snatches of one-sided conversations in English and in Japanese, the metre of the words amplified by the pulsing of some of the cables that flashed red, like volume unit meters on a home stereo system.

"......... do you feel worthless as a person?"

"How are you doing? Are you still there?"

"So surreal"

The motionless dancers lie covered in cables that now pulse bright red, like blood vessels, then rapidly and randomly flash on and off like the firing of synapses. Sustenance via fibre-optics. Connection, communication, hope.

It is always intriguing and invigorating to see choreographers perform their own works, and these two women are absolute and acknowledged experts in their field. There is no need for the choreographer to translate their thoughts to another dancer, that whole process is removed when the creator of the piece is also the performer. An Australian choreographer and a Japanese choreographer decide to collaborate directly and personally on a piece about the shared experience of isolation and quarantine, and absolutely no translation is required. This is a superb piece of work that I urge you to see.


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