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Adelaide Festival

Review: Gala

Adelaide Festival

Gala is not a typical international dance company performance that we watch with wonder and admiration, but rather a celebration of the joy of dance – an appreciation of the sense of belonging found only in communal movement.

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Working with French choreographer and show creator Jérôme Bel, local casting co-ordinator Roz Hervey has selected a range of individuals – including only a couple of professional dancers – of all ages and sizes who reflect our diverse culture and who bring with them unique talents. There’s a rhythmic gymnast with a hoop, a Bollywood dancer, a woman in a motorised wheelchair, an elderly Asian man, and a young, lithe Indigenous man.

Gala creates plenty of laughter because of the diverse styles of interpretative dance, the idiosyncratic costume choices made by each performer, and their personalities; the joy they experience is infectious.

A three-minute silent improvisation allows each individual to shine, no style or level being better than the rest (although well-known local dancer Rory Walker experimented with a shuffle that was exceptional).

There are many beautiful moments, including the tenderness of a ballerina sitting with the woman in a wheelchair as they waltz around the stage.


Photo: Tony Lewis / Adelaide Festival

The professionals shine and we have glimpses of their skills and perfect timing, but of equal interest is them, along with the rest of the company, attempting to follow the Indigenous dancer’s superb movements imitating the kangaroo. He glides comfortably and effortlessly on the stage with movements intrinsic to his culture and his very being. This moment offers an insight into the value of dance within a culture where everyone participates; the dance belongs to the community and breathes life into it.

When a young boy has his chance to lead the movement, his happy jumps, hops and skips spring from the energy of youth, and the company struggles to keep with him.

Photo: Tony Lewis / Adelaide Festival

Photo: Tony Lewis / Adelaide Festival

This show makes us question why dance in our spectator society has moved from being a communal, celebratory activity to one that trained specialists perform for others. Why do we see talent and skill belonging to others rather than enjoying and giving expression to our own innate abilities?

Gala celebrates difference and imperfection. If more of us participated in community dances, perhaps we would feel a greater sense of belonging and our singularity would be cherished.

Gala is being performed at the Scott Theatre, Kintore Avenue, until March 18.

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