To question existence articulately, specifically our place in the universe and what it all means, is no mean feat – especially in an hour and 15 minutes. However, Shaun Parker & Company’s music and dance collaboration Am I pulls it off in a way that is mesmerising and visually compelling.
With a weighty theme at its core, audiences may expect this to be a “crisis-laden” performance piece; it isn’t. From the beginning, when international performer Shantala Shivalingappa begins an ethereal-like monologue, the illuminating vibe of the show becomes clear.
Ked by director/choreographer Shaun Parker and Am I co-creator and composer Nick Wales, the dance company presents an astonishingly original portrayal of humankind’s origins, specifically focusing on the brain and its formation and acceleration throughout time.
The show features intermittent monologues from Shivalingappa, whose showcase of traditional Indian Kuchipudi movement is captivating. In fascinating dance routines, six other performers join forces to use their bodies, particularly their hands, to tell stories.
It is difficult to single out any one performer, as each was phenomenal, showing amazing skill, precise timing and visual interpretation – and all are very, very fit. However, Julian Wong, in particular, demonstrates an amazing ability to integrate fan and stick weaponry and martial arts into the show, taking on a complex role within the ensemble.
The live musicians are illuminated intermittently throughout the performance, with Wales’ score, integrating what he describes as world music, well-suited to the explorative “stories”. Tribal vocals are combined with string instruments, guitars, organs and percussion. Alyx Dennison’s vocals are exceptional, weaving together different styles, from Armenian to medieval.
Shaun Parker & Company was unsuccessful in its crowd-funding campaign to raise funds for a live album recording – I hope the show’s inclusion in the Adelaide Festival will perhaps urge it to attempt this again. I would have bought the album, the bumper sticker and the T-shirt.
Am I is being performed at the Dunstan Playhouse from February 27-March 1.
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Click here for InDaily’s stories and reviews from the 2014 Adelaide Festival, including WOMADelaide and Adelaide Writers’ Week.
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