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Dance review: ADT's Objekt

Dance

Australian Dance Theatre’s Objekt is a tremendous display of the ability and beauty of the human body, as well as how humans can mistreat and abuse each other.

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Created by choreographer Garry Stewart in collaboration with Germany’s tanzmainz contemporary dance company, the work is a dance of transformation and a series of beautiful images designed to create a world of wonder.

The dancers all have individual moments of brilliance but when they dance together they are as one.

Stewart has cleverly designed the set to arouse our curiosity with a large cube, gently lit, almost like a sci-fi monolith which is opened by bronze-gloved hands that reveal an undiscovered universe where the people merge with the setting.

This flexible set holds little secrets, revealed at appropriate moments, which have us guessing where we are and whose story we are watching. Large L-shaped rostra, light enough to be carried easily but strong enough to stand or sit on, are regularly placed in varying fascinating configurations and used to good effect by the dancers.

Loose-fitting outer garments cover tighter body stockings embellished with the same triangular patterns that also cover the face. Human? Alien? The past? The future? Are we witnessing an emerging civilisation or one in decay? (It doesn’t matter – decide your own story.)

The dancers explore the space as we embark on a journey of interpreting symbols and civilisations. Composer and sound designer Brendan Woithe’s music transports us with its varying rhythms and its driving percussion, and the lighting changes the mood and atmosphere at frequent intervals. Lucia Vonrhein’s costumes are well-conceived, colourful and liberating, taking the audinece into a world of science fiction and fantasy which is totally captivating.

Something is always happening in Objekt and there is always something to look at; even while the ensemble captures our attention, individuals or duos intrigue us with subtle movements and poses.

The dancers are a true ensemble: athletic, beautiful, strong, focused and flexible. Objekt makes many demands on them – they are required to be mechanical with movement that draws on break dancing; they float, fly, roll and tumble like circus performers, and they glide and gesture with beauty.

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There are many moments in Objekt when the ensemble members use their hands and arms to great effect, and then they swiftly break apart and move spiritedly into something equally astonishing. There are brilliant and chilling uses of pieces of rope which trap individuals in web-like fashion, but the dancers deftly defy their captors.

The dance builds to a major confrontation between two opposing sides which the dancers hold with intense concentration. There is just great drama and theatricality, with the opportunity for the audience to take from it what they see.

Objekt is a dance you could see a dozen times and enjoy all the more with each viewing; it engages the imagination, the senses and the intellect. A riveting and exciting artistic achievement reflecting quality collaboration on all levels.

Australian Dance Theatre is presenting Objekt at the Adelaide College of the Arts in Light Square until October 8. Read InDaily’s interview with Garry Stewart about the work here.

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