Review: Sydney Dance Company’s ‘Shared Frequency’

April 5th 2011


I came for the hot male dancers and stayed for the captivating performance. Advertisements for Sydney Dance Company’s new show Shared Frequency have been steaming up bus-station billboards across town, featuring sweaty and swaying dancers looking appealing. The production deserves the hype.

The credit for Shared Frequency is shared across a spectrum of artists. The bill is divided into two premiere works, which don’t seem to have a whole lot in common beside my enthusiasm for both. Italian choreographer Jacopo Godani has hardwired the first piece, Raw Models. Working with German electro acoustic composers 48 Nord and seven dancers, Godani has delivered a pulsing physical representation of the digital. SDC Artistic Director Rafael Bonachela dreamed up a serene meander through landscape and the elements in the second, LANDforms. Addressing the audience before the performances, Bonachela was stoked to announce that LANDforms represents the achievements of a long-time artistic dream of his – live music accompanying an SDC performance. Composer Ezio Bosso created an elegant new score performed by live musicians and songbird Katie Noonan for Bonachela's piece.

For my money, the first piece, Raw Models, is where it's at. Self-destruction never looked so seductive. The piece is an analogue apocalypse, and explores the infusion of the organic with the inorganic. The dancers shook and glitched, unravelling and malfunctioning along to a surreal soundscape.  It was like watching humans waking up to find they have become computerised. The dancers would spiral in to familiar tableaux from classical ballet, and then gasp out of them to adopt more mechanised forms. These bodies literally, darkly, did the robot.

The show is insidiously sexy. The lighting is low and designer Mark Dyson utilises shadows to unsettling effect. The silhouettes enhance concentration on the dancers' outlines, exaggerating the harsh spontaneity of their movements. The collision of organic and inorganic, old and new, resonated through the soundscape. 48 Nord have synthesised acoustic instruments and electronics to produce a narrative of the connection of the physical with the digital.

I've never seen anyone malfunction so fluidly. Contemporary dance is not a major part of Sydney's cultural landscape, but it deserves to be. And if it takes naked dancers at bus stops to get us buying tickets, so be it.

What: Shared Frequency
Who: Sydney Dance Company
Where: Sydney Theatre, Hickson Rd, Walsh Bay
When: Until Saturday 16 April
Price: from $40 here



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