Human interactions explored in captivating contemporary dance.

Cairns Civic Theatre, Sydney Dance Company

July 12, 2014

The Sydney Dance Company’s production of 2 One Another brings together some of Australia’s most talented contemporary dancers in a performance of astonishing stamina and physicality.

2 One Another is an expressive montage of solos, duets and ensemble pieces exploring the human interactions and relationships that make up our lives. The name is drawn from the three types of human interactions identified by choreographer Rafael Bonachela in his creative development process – couples (2), individuals (One) and groups (Another).

Bonachela’s award-winning choreography is performed against a wall of pulsing LED lights that dominate the stage. This fluctuating backdrop creates starkly different atmospheres when combined with Nick Wales’ unique composition, from an 80’s video game to lightning or a modern music video. True to the nature of contemporary performance, no explanation is offered about how the lights connect to the onstage action, and audiences are left to draw their own conclusions. Set designer Nick Assness is also responsible for the striking costumes which allow audiences to fully appreciate the strength and physical fitness of the dancers. Snippets of poetry by Australian writer Samuel Webster, white noise and violin solos are all incorporated into the highly unusual score, keeping the audience on the edge of their seats.

The synchronicity of the entire company is flawless, despite the physically demanding choreography. Every dancer consistently demonstrates incredible core strength, flexibility and fluidity, from floor work to sustained leaps and feats of acrobatics, always perfectly in time. Particularly in the first half of the show, the ensemble operates in a way that is reminiscent of a hive of insects – performing individual tasks and motions, yet still synchronised with everyone around them. The opening ensemble piece is busy, and it can be difficult to see all the interesting actions happening at once.

As this is a contemporary piece, there is no obvious connecting story or themes between the many, patchwork-style pieces. Interpretation of the choreography and its deeper meanings is left entirely open to the audience, with only subtle changes in the music and nature of the choreography to assist. A full costume change at the mid-point of the hour-long performance causes confusion rather than clarity, and makes the audience feel as though they have missed some subtle hint or shift. Ultimately, enjoyment of 2 One Another lies in not seeking meaning too determinedly, but in simply appreciating the raw power of the dancers and their movements.

Charmene Yap was awarded ‘Most Outstanding Dancer’ at the 2013 Australian Dance Awards and is a standout performer even among the high calibre dancers of 2 One Another. Her extensions, fluidity and balletic technique are truly breathtaking to watch. Chen Wen and Bernhard Knauer perform a powerful duet with harsh strobe lighting that emphasises the intense, masculine choreography. Juliette Barton and Andrew Crawford are also excellent, performing as partners several times throughout and closing the whole show with a tender duet that is more lyrical than contemporary.

2 One Another exemplifies brilliant choreography and polished, talented artists working together in harmony. Sharp, clean motions and machine-like precision of movement are complemented by excellent technique and training, and the minimalist set and unconventional score make this an unforgettable performance.

The Sydney Dance Company will be taking 2 One Another to various locations throughout Western Australia, Queensland and New South Wales from June 18 until August 9.