Amplification examines a body in chaos
Using the car accident as a metaphor for mental and physical disassociation, Amplification deals with the human body’s response to sound, light, and physical impact. Philip Adams, choreographer and Artistic Director of BalletLab, Australia’s most experimental and challenging contemporary dance company, did extensive and impressive research on the effects of car accidents on their victims. Adams visited hospitals, morgues, and spoke to doctors and recovering patients. In this provocative, confronting, and challenging piece, he explores the themes of disassociation, pain, healing, reality and unreality within the form of an installation set in a stark minimalist environment.
"We all have awareness of things we have experienced, either directly or second hand, that exist just beneath the surface of our consciousness." he says. "We either have been in a car accident ourselves, seen one happen, or know someone who has been in one. Suddenly one day, we lose control, our car is sliding, skidding, and coming closer and closer to another object. That awareness we’ve kept buried comes flooding into our minds, we distance ourselves, time stretches, and our senses become somewhat diffused–the moment of impact can seem to take several minutes rather than the split second that it actually is."
This seems a rather difficult idea to portray in dance, but, if all the reports are true, Adams succeeds brilliantly. Amplification is a total theatrical experience. The use of sound, light, movement and gesture exist together to convey deeply disturbing concepts. The stark and sterile set draws the watcher into the deliberately created cold environment and the discordant and dissonant sound score adds to further unnerve the audience.
Phillip Adams lived and worked as a dancer in New York for ten years before returning home to Australia to establish BalletLab. Those early days in New York: ‘..were very important in shaping my thought process and my work as a choreographer," he says. However despite the lure of downtown New York, the decision to come home was based on the sincere belief that returning to Australia would provide the opportunity to develop his work within a stronger support network than would ever be available to him in New York.
Now ten years later Adams describes the place and relevance of his work in the Australian dance sector as: "BalletLab is still actively working to diligently and consistently connect with the community, producing works that are successful, cutting edge and push boundaries. All of which is something the BalletLab audience clearly relates to – evidenced through the number of sold-out shows in the company’s seasons. It might just be the luck of the minute when funding bodies focus on one aspect of the community needs and a company’s work doesn’t fit that bill. However BalletLab has carved out an identity on the Australian landscape that is courageous."
Amplification was created during a period when Adams was experimenting with cross disciplinary work.
“I find that I have to be brave when I get that slap in the face,” he says. “ I don’t take that as an insult but rather want to step up to the plate. The positive is that the recognition comes from the public domain, and despite the rejections you have to believe that the people like the work. I certainly don’t apologise for my work but I do feel it changing for us. I feel it’s my time and more significantly people haven taken the time to see the product and buy into it. We have a board, we have an administrative office responsible for the management of BalletLab and everyone is into it. Hopefully the fuel now in this car is driving it up the freeway in fifth gear!"
AMPLIFICATION : VENUE: MERLYN THEATRE, THE CUB MALTHOUSE, 113 STURT ST SOUTHBANK VIC 3006 SEASON: 22 – 26 MARCH. BOOKING INFO: WWW.MALTHOUSETHEATRE.COM.AU / 03 9685 5111 TICKET PRICES: $21 – $49.