The Pleasure Principle
50 Shades of Dance
Launched two years ago in 2010, Ignite The Dark is one of Melbourne's newest jazz dance theatre ensembles.
The brainchild of director, Daniel Ryan and choreographer, Alfie Scalia, The Pleasure Principle is the group’s latest offering.
Based around Oscar Wilde's famous quote from his novel "The Picture of Dorian Gray," that ‘the only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it. Resist it and your soul grows sick with longing for the things it has forbidden to itself.’
It is along this idea, that the company's 14 young and expert dancers showcase their considerable athletic strengths. The group's collective acting and miming abilities are also put to the test.
Through their bodies, pleasure and pain are intertwined with a sharp yet stylized, pulsating physicality. Backing tracks include a diverse selection of music, ranging from Tom Waits to Madonna.
Reality television shows like So You Think You Can Dance, Dancing With The Stars, and Australia's Got Talent are currently dominating the airwaves. So, it is probably no accident Ignite The Dark's co-creators seem to have pitched this show at lovers of Graham Murphy, Twyla Tharp, and beyond. This is the seven deadly sins for the MTV generation.
Divided into two distinct, thirty - minute halves, 15 individual pieces are linked by an overt exploration of human heterosexual relationships. Back - projection using quotes from famous performing artists and choreographers, introduce and delineate each routine. Without giving too much away, where act one has a more contemporary rock and roll edge, act two is ethereal, larger than life and grand.
Themes covered include the dating scene and its many pitfalls, drunken male bonding, petty office politics, and girls portrayed as inanimate sex objects.
What makes the Ignite The Dark cast unique, is that the women outnumber the men eleven to three.
This potential imbalance however, is used very much to the show's advantage. Drawing wry reference from Broadway musicals like Nine (based on Federico Fellini's semi-autobiographical film, 81/2), Bob Fosse's Chicago, and Michael Bennett's A Chorus Line, a distinct female energy hangs in the air.
That isn’t to say the company’s male dancers don’t hold their own, however. Expert solo work and partnering by Aaron Lucey, Adrian Bell, and director, Daniel Ryan himself, are a joy to watch.
Albert Park’s Gasworks Theatre is an ideal venue for The Pleasure Principle. The stage is at floor level, and the dancers both engage the audience and command the space. Here, they can be savored and enjoyed in extreme close – up.
Played against a stark black curtain, the costuming is both moody and subtle. Whether the performers are dressed in red, white or baby pink, bold choices using solid colours and flowing dress fabrics are used to stunning effect. Like Chicago’s Joffrey Ballet and New York’s Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, the outfits become an extension of the dancers’ bodies, and thus, an integral part of each performance.
Expert costume changes between numbers keep the show’s pacing at full tilt. In several linking scenes, some of the dancers are in fact performing non – stop.
A row of upward moving spotlights, are positioned at the back of the stage. Working in tandem, they help invoke a smoky, mysterious, nightclub feel, perfect for the film noir theming.
Performance highlights include “Little Drop of Poison”, “Off To The Races”, “From Within. From Without”, “A Consumerist Love Story”, “The Hangman”, “Everyone Is Obsessed With Youth And Youth Is Obsessed With Itself”, “Feeling Good”, and “Dondante”.
For lovers of contemporary dance and the drama of theatre itself, there is something for everyone. This is indeed a vibrant, high - octane experience. Don’t miss out.