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Production

Enter #1773

Company

Dance Horizon Troupe

Reviewer

Stephanie Burridge

Date

20/03/2008

Time

8.00pm

Place

Drama Centre Black Box

Rating

**

Dancing by Numbers

Young companies with talent should be encouraged and despite working with a fairly simple and clichéd story line, there were some good performances from this group of technically skilled young dancers. However, as Enter #1773 progressed, their inexperience as performers showed and they were unable to delve deep into the essence of the string of characters and situations that they portrayed and bring them to life.

The narrative revolved around a series of people that entered through a door numbered 1773. These included a spinster, a couple where the man is dominant in the domestic relationship, a geek and yuppies obsessed with their careers. The set included desks and swivel chairs, a sofa that the dancers used effectively and a table that doubled as a desk and an ironing board. The music was not credited in the programme but much of it was by Astor Piazzolla, whose music has unfortunately been used relentlessly by contemporary dance companies and seems to be an "easy" option for many choreographers. It did not seem appropriate for the storyline of this choreography and did not aid the performers in developing their roles.

The narrative of Enter #1773 was based entirely on these characters and in this context, each dancer needed to look for examples, and within themselves, to build their interpretations. From the beginning, however, when the dancers mimed actions such as working on a keyboard, through to a repeat of this scene at the end, they remained tentative in their acting and dancing of these roles. It is difficult to develop movement vocabulary that gives insight into character, and the choreographer relied on the dancers to bring out nuances to develop the people they were playing (for example, the choreography did not distinguish them in terms of their roles, ages and gender). In the end, however, these details were still missing. Simply dancing the steps was not enough. The piece really needed some strong direction to help the dancers believe that such characters really did exist and were interesting, and fun to explore through dance. As it stood, it was completely bogged down by the plot.

For instance, the spinster broke too freely into flowing movement and the guy on the couch telling his wife to do more ironing was not believable, (thank goodness!). While the scene offered the chance to see some lyrical dancing and strong movement from dancer-choreographer Liz Wong, the frustration and anger of this character was a chance to show some strong emotion - this did not come across. The bossy woman at the keyboard with her handphone, Verity Jacobson, danced well with marvellous articulation of her legs and feet but the mimed phone conversations and checking of folders were done far too quickly to be believable.

Wong understands the craft of dance-making and moved the dancers through competent, rather than original and creative, phrases of dance; with time she has the potential to find her own choreographic voice. Overall, the dance technique was strong, particularly from guests such as Australian dancer Jacobson and Ding Qirui from China. It would have been interesting to watch this group perform in a different scenario that gave them the space to be themselves and use their dance ability freely. The restrictive plot meant that the performance relied more on their acting skills than their talent for contemporary dance movement.


"As Enter #1773 progressed, their inexperience as performers showed and they were unable to delve deep into the essence of the string of characters and situations that they portrayed and bring them to life."

Credits

Concept and choreography:
Liz Fong

Lighting designer: Andy Lim

Dancers: Verity Jacobson, Ding Qirui, Goh Chee Seng, Kenneth Tan and Viv Phua

More Reviews by Stephanie Burridge

Ratings out of 5, based on Practitioner's Vision / Reviewer's Response: ***** = Transcendent / Rapturous;
**** = Crystal / Appreciative; *** = Transmitted / Thoughtful; ** = Vague / Unsatisfied; * = Uncommunicated / Mystified.