Featuring three dance stories by Alive Contemporary Dance Company, State of Emergency reaches into the human mind to consider ponderings of freedom, consequence, and responsibility.
The montage of flora and fauna plays on the screen, accompanied by a hurried news-like cacophony of languages. Scenes of water, trees, and animals are interspersed with snapshots of dancers mimicking nature’s ebb and flow.
The lights change, and seven female dancers appear on stage. Silently expressive in face and body, they proceed to delve into the soul-searching choreography of Daniel Navarro Lorenzo’s White Mountains. Repetitive actions give way to depictions of self-wrestling, and dancers sway like uncertain branches in the wind, torn between mindlessly conforming and trying to break away. In this piece, Lorenzo questions how we might “express [ourselves] in a society that acts as one.”
The second piece, Inevitable Transformation, is choreographed by Mafê Toledo and takes us back to a primeval world. The dancers showcase strength and flexibility as their bodies tell a journey of choice and consequence through the perspective of man and nature.
After a short interval, the abstract dance poetry of Grace Keeble’s Triptych questions whether “the power of nature [might] remain and regenerate without us, despite us.” This piece makes good use of stage lighting and dance group positioning to explore the push and pull of instinct and self-reflection.
Smoother transitions between the accompanying music tracks, further refinement of choreography, and the use of moving images or projections on the screen could further enhance the themes of the production.
Overall, the performers tangibly convey the emotional depths of human thought. The three dance pieces are distinct in their style and message, while maintaining unity in addressing the underlying issue of whether it is us, or our planet, that needs help.
State of Emergency creatively explores the deep questions of human nature, identity, and relationship with the earth. With bold choreography executed by dancers who double as actresses, artistic director Rejane Garcia is to be commended for this philosophical and thought-provoking production.
Reviewed performance: Saturday 22 February