Based in regional New South Wales, Austinmer Dance Theatre looks to bridge the gap between tertiary and professional level contemporary dancers. Bringing a triple bill Connect choreographed by Ashley Wright, Maurice Causey and artistic director Michelle Forte, each work explored the inner depths of human identity and interaction.

Ten People in the Shape of a Lemming

As the audience enters the theatre, the dancers have already claimed their space on stage dressed in casual ensembles tied together with a palette of earthy tones. A composition by Joris Gielen and Didier Ambact, edited by choreographer Ashley Wright, instigated the movement establishing a fast-paced intensity driven by quirky synths. The cast of 10 created a tone of investigation and exploration as they compartmentalised their bodies, building structures out of their limbs and allowing them to quickly collapse and fall apart. It was evident Wright worked with the individual physicality and the diversity of her cast as the dancers transitioned between rigorous solos and duets seamlessly. The dancers left their audience mesmerised as they transitioned between dizzying rolls across the floor to intimate gatherings in a huddle, inspecting each other’s faces and feet in an alien-like manner.

En Trance 

Artistic director Michelle Forte’s piece began with verbatim, six dancers seated in the front of the space. One by one they began to talk over the top of each other, an inner and intimate monologue directed at the audience. En Trance sought to uncover deeper insecurities and one’s self perception as the dancers moved from an internal reflection into choreography. Forte’s movement accentuated a powerful beauty as the dancers travelled swiftly through the space with strong leg extensions juxtaposed against a motif of haunched shoulders and dangling arms that hung in an unsettling geometry. A gentle reminder we are constantly making harsh judgements of ourselves, despite our outer reflection. The composition by Ezio Bosso drove a dramatic undertone, at times which seemed to determine the emotive expression of the dancer. Given the intimacy of the venue, PACT theatre, this often became overpowering and disingenuous – a distraction from what was being conveyed in the movement. The piece finished with a combination of the use of voice and movement, building up to one final moment of synchronicity.

Hope Passion

Choreographed by Maurice Causey, Hope Passion was a display of technical and artistic facility. Drawing strongly from classical roots, the movement moved between highly athletic pathways into balletic sissones and floating port de bres. Causey built landscapes filling the minimalist space, whilst heavily featuring duets that shifted between separate pairs of the cast. The piece seemed to indicate a passion for movement as the choreography appeared no more than to showcase the physical capabilities of the cast. At times the choreography felt tedious as it lacked tonal shifts and heavily relied on repetition. The composition by Den Sorte Skole led the movement through waves as it wafted through genres from classical to rock, creating an underlying instability.

Connect delivered a promising look into the future of contemporary dance. The company adapted well to its environment as each member performed with a detailed awareness and commitment to the piece, despite the starkness of the theatre and the awkward mumblings provided by the audience as they sat in dark silence between each act. The triple bill provided a diverse collection of material, there was something to be admired by everyone.


Dates: Playing until Saturday 15 September, 2018
Time: 8:30pm
Venue: PACT (107 Railway Parade, Erskineville, NSW)
Tickets can be purchased here