Upon walking into Gasworks Theatre the audience of Trisha Dunn’s Finding Centre was greeted by a darkened set and low, electronic bass rumblings filling the space. This ambience filled the majority of the entire piece, creating an ethereal softness to compliment Trisha’s dynamic dance movement.
Finding Centre is an exploration of balance, and dealing with chaos both in society and personally. The piece was structured with around nine dance pieces that represented different struggles in the search for balance.
Whether Trisha was trying to hold in her breath as she balanced precariously on a stack of chairs, intricate staccatto movement invoking fight or flight mentality, or performing the specific, rigorous choreography of each piece, Trisha’s core strength, technique and stamina was completely evident. Her movement was grounded and precise, with great care to detail.
Finding Centre begins with a barely-lit Trisha lying across a tall set piece, appearing to hang delicataely in midair. Her movements start subtle and tension-filled until it becomes clear that the set piece she lays across is in fact two very large boxes with ample space between that she swings lithely between.
Projected onto these boxes throughout the performance was a very impressive array of multimedia. By far the stand-out feature of the show, these versatile boxes were turned into a flurry of paper pieces slowly drifting away, a calm ocean of grass reeds intricately rendered to the most minute detail, or a beach setting with a tiny Trisha for normal-sized Trisha to interact with.
Two of the dance pieces made particular use of the screens. One where filmed aspects of the solo choreography being performed on stage flashed in and out, adding strength to the choreography showed the level of detail and rigorous practice involved in the show. Another had one or two Trishas performing the same choreography, but glitching in and out of time to incredible detail like a broken (but specificly timed) media player.
Perhaps some of the video interludes – while intresting and evocative – took too long and lulled the audience into a meditative state. This made each new section an effort to refocus. Granted, thesee were making time for our solo performer to recover, so can be easily forgiven. Also, the two projected boxes appeared slightly mismatched in colour and definition, but perhaps would be affected by seating place.
Trisha’s interactions were, by design, halting and awkward. What seemed to be a warm introduction completely fell apart to reveal an anxiety-ridden woman as her attempts to correct her opening gesture devolved into sharp choreography, all while still speaking. This filled the piece with an intense energy that was mesmerising to watch.
Trisha led the audience in a sung, edited rendition of “The Grand Old Duke of York”. Perhaps it was designed to juxtapose the next section which was emotionally fragile and explosively performed, but it came off as awkward and ill-fitting.
Finding Centre as an exploration perhaps could have benefitted from a more clearly stated narrative device or threadline. The pieces that made up the show seperately were visually stunning and well-performed, but seemed not to gel together as a clear concept.
Additionally, each piece itself generally started, continued and conluded in the same energy. While aspects of the theme were very specifically explored, the theme in general did not feel evident.
The lighting was superbly simple and really aided either the chaos of the scene or of the intricacy of the performance.
The use of motif and repeated phrase work was littered throughout the production, but as a solo performance this can seem overly repetitive without other castmates to use canon or unison to diversify this action. The choreography itself was very strong, included a wide variety of shapes and phrases and each piece had its own unique flavour.
If you are going to see Finding Centre, you will be treated to an impressive dance performance, exquisite visual design, dyamic choreography and plenty to interperate and discuss over coffee after the show.