Colleen Bartley/Beithe Movement Collective surface tension of the unknown
Serena Ruth & Franziska Boehm A Revealed Study
Katie Serridge Shallow Water Waves
Resolution 2022 has almost reached its close, but last night’s performances continued to reveal surprises. Colleen Bartley’s surface tension of the unknown set the stage for an evening in-the-round, inviting the audience to witness ways of being. And, indeed, ways of dancing in the guise of structured improvisation. Walking through space, towards, around and away from each other, on threads stuck to the floor…what is dance, and where does it begin? Brief connections between the three dancers occur when ideas are reflected off one another (weight shifts, changes in proxemics), but the piece lacks deeper curiosity needed to seriously examine its underlying stimuli. All too often opportunities to further develop the improvisation are missed, leaving a disappointing sense of unfulfillment.
Traditionally, dancers are seen and not heard, but Serena Ruth and Franziska Boehm make a loud break away from these silent confines. Giggles, squeaks and shouts permeate the soundscape of A Revealed Study as groans accompany torso-flopping and stretched chests omit proclaimed bellows. Vocalisation fused with physical reaction exposes the body’s outright honesty, but it’s not always a truth we need to hear. After some time, these yells and sighs become overbearing and almost cringey; it’s a relief when Ruth and Boehme find quiet respite on the floor.
Soft shifts met with assertive gaze, and arcing ribs framed in watery noise marks the theme of soft power in Shallow Water Waves. Katie Serridge’s trio is well-paced and flows easily, aided by a natural unification between dancers Dominique Baker, Rebecca Douglass and Gilles Geissbuhler. Their immersion in the piece moves the group as one organism rather than as three individuals, building a series of ripples, suspensions and gentle impulses. The dancers’ evident enjoyment of the movement leads to a subtle sense of play, allowing soft power to captivate and transport us to a lighter world. If Serridge were to continue choreographing on these performers in the future, it would surely not be worth missing.
In her informal introduction to surface tension of the unknown, choreographer Colleen Bartley invites us to play with different ways of looking; close one eye, zoom in, turn away. It’s an invitation that reflects the explorative and sensory nature of this work, which sees a trio of dancer, choreographer and musician slip between a series of playful, improvised tasks. In one of these tasks, the trio traverse lines of fishing wire pulled tight across the floor. Their determination and commitment to walk only on these threads, eyes closed, feels as precarious a game as if they were balancing above the ground. It is one of the more memorable moments in a work that lies somewhere between a performed sharing and an introspective sensing into the performers’ own bodies. Although softly engaging, that balance tips too far towards introspection to fully hold the attention.
A revealed study continues the evening’s exploration into different ways of engaging with the body. Exploring a palette of minute noises and vocal sounds, Serena Ruth and Franziska Boehm express emotions ranging through joy, desire and discomfort. Whether engrossed in moments of loud release or quiet rest, their movements seem to bubble from their bodies in an expressive and sometimes comic extension of their vocals. Each performer has their individual approach, creating a sense of two solo explorations engaged in an honest and supportive conversation with each other. Revealing, vulnerable and, at times, bizarre, A revealed study is a bold yet intimate expression of bodily sensation and feeling.
Shallow Water Waves, by Katie Serridge, embraces unity and softness. A rising momentum between the three dancers carries them around the space in bursts of flowing, toppling movement, before subsiding into softer scenes of internalised fluidity, the dancers’ bodies swaying gently or settling into stillness. That wave-like ebb and flow to Serridge’s choreography, combined with the sound and costume design, conjures a believably watery world. Yet despite the strong connection between the three performers and the clarity of its concept, Shallow Water Waves ends up lost in its own flow.