The WA Dance Makers Project showcases variety and creativity

Graeme Watson, OutinPerth

Western Australia’s premier contemporary dance company Co3 Contemporary Dance deliver a trio of treats with the WA Dance Makers Project. Celebrating the work of local choreographers, the performances cover a diverse range of styles and show that modern dance can be many different things.

First up was a performance from the WA Academy of Performing Arts’ Link Dance Company. Richard Cilli’s This is Now would make for a perfect video clip for Daft Punk’s next release.

Cilli trained at WAAPA and was a member of the Steps Youth Dance Company in his teenage years – that company has since morphed to become Co3’s Act-Belong-Commit Youth Ensemble, so it’s wonderful to see a dancer progressing through their career and into choreography.

The stage was filled by fourteen dancers dressed in dark tones with scarlet splashes. They began to boldly make sounds. “Pom! Pom!” they chanted, followed by a mix of whooshes, whizzes, brrrrrrs and other sounds.

Slowly from behind their backs they revealed they were each holding two red pom-poms, “Pom! Pom!” indeed. So began an energetic and fast moving piece that explored the theme of how organisations evolve descending in and out of chaos. The second piece from dance legend Chrissie Parrott was a more narrative based piece. In-Lore Act II began with a family sitting around the dining room table, the light of an old 1970’s TV flickering upon them. On the other side of the stage a woman in a white dress stands under a spotlight, slowly she begins to enter and interact with their world.

While Parrott’s latest creation is a narrative based work, exactly what that narrative is though is probably different for each audience member. There are themes of family, disruption and possibly infidelity throughout the work. The overwhelming feeling watching the performance was one of dread and impending violence, which is impressive because there was nothing that particularly triggered these emotions, but the combination of movement, sound and lighting oozed trepidation.

The final piece You Do Ewe, a new commission from the trio Unkempt, was a lighthearted, comedic and fun piece. One by one the dancers took to the stage introducing themselves. As each performer came in to the performance space they would grab the microphone and begin chatting away.

They progressed into a cha-cha tango routine where nothing was quite matched properly. Hands which would have traditionally been on a partner’s shoulders were instead of their knees or elbows or buttocks, creating a comedic and odd series of movements.

What was lovely about this work was that the dancer’s individual personalities were central to the performance, you got a feeling of really getting to know Andrew, Ella-Rose, Katherine, Zoe, Tanya and Mitch. It was camp and crazy, abrasive and loud. Some of the individual segments perhaps went a little too long, and while the material drew howls of laughter from the opening night audience, I wondered what the reaction would be in subsequent performances when the number of friends and family would be lower.

The great strength of this collection of works is its diversity, they are three distinctively different pieces in style and tone, a tasting plate of what contemporary dance can be.