See You grew from choreographer Lai Hung-Chung’s experience of connection and isolation, of unity and dissociation, of evasion, longing, and loss. As with so many memorable performances, the eight dancers of Taiwan’s Hung Dance conflate the personal with the universal, their whole-hearted commitment and exceptional physical mastery inviting the audience to feel every intimate shift in expression on a visceral level, tapping into collective human experience.
The neutrality of the featureless, darkened stage and the cream-coloured, subtly individualised stitching of the costumes designed by Yang Yu-The magnifies the impact of the complex choreography, executed with deceptive effortlessness by eight dancers.
They are already on stage as the audience files in, each limbering up in isolation, their glitching, liquid ripplings of limbs and spines drawing the audience into a liminal moment before the lights dim in the auditorium. A blue spotlight focuses in on the clustered dancers, one female dancer lifted above the others like a marine organism caught in the clutches of a sea anemone, limbs and torso waving as if in an unseen current, and the performance begins.
The hour that follows flows at breathless pace. The dancers alternate between moving in precise unison and splintering into cold, blue-lit clusters and red, warm-hued, connecting couples; their frenzied shudderings and hunched-shouldered, monsterish trudges alternate with the lithe sinuousness and balletic grace of tai chi and glitching moves of street body-poppers. A female dancer is caught up in a moving human chain, horizontal, defying gravity, a reminder of the meaning of the Chinese character Hung – “to fly”.
The dancers move with thrilling synchronisation even to the most off-beat syncopation in the perfectly integrated soundscape by Hsu Chia-Wei. But it is the expressiveness of the dancers’ faces, each committed through every inch of their physicality, that lifts See You to a five-star performance.
Sometimes unseeing and detached, at other times peering, heads jutted forward in a search for connection, the dancers in turn embrace or confront, lean into one another or push away. Ultimately, they turn to the audience, as if seeing it for the first time. In the final moments, a dancer spot lit, half blue, half red, integrates the push and pull between seeing and unseeing, connection and disassociation that seems so much a part of human experience.
This is an outstanding performance, not be missed.
See You is being presented by Hung Dance and Lewis Major at the Main Theatre of the Adelaide College of the Arts, Light Square, until March 5.
Read more 2023 Adelaide Fringe stories and reviews on InReview here.
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