Half way through this year’s Dance Massive program it has become evident, that within the Melbourne dance scene at least, the parameters of dance have certainly shifted. The lines between it and other art forms have become blurred and, whether this new lack of definition is a good thing or not, certainly lies in the eye of the beholder. 

You Animal You– by Force Majeure, is the yet another work in this year’s program that sits somewhere outside of the traditional boundaries of dance. It is a menacing, vicious work of physicality, it’s toying with social taboos is a challenging and unrelenting experience which leaves audiences gasping for air. The swaths that the performance cuts ‘in between’, create paths deeper into darkness. In all You Animal you leaves very little room for argument- this is a great performance. 

What the company have done in this work, is place a group of performers together, each with very distinct backgrounds and drawing from various disciplines and the work is all the richer for such diversity. There are, however, two stand-out performers here- the wiery Jack Riley, whose Lilith white skin and body that contorts in menacing fashion. Ghenoa Gela too, really brings something of otherness to the work, folding traditional dance into the blistering mix of choreography. Dare it be said, that without both their influence, this work may have faded away into the wasteland of mediocrity (a fate that other performances have suffered this Dance Massive).

Like other works presented as part of this year’s  Dance Massive, here in this performance, vocal device is also employed. But in this work, more than in others, its inclusion feels right, as it has been workshopped in a way that has made it both integral, and central to the performance. These vocals are balanced perfectly against an undulating score which ricochets from the hauntingly familiar, to the more surreal. Completing the vision is lighting designed by Damien Cooper;  in all the production here achieves the effect of placing audiences front and centre to a death match of sorts, but, as the layers continue to peel back, the narrative cuts to the chase, centring in on themes of maternity and nurture. 

This is a stunning and contemporary work that barely manages to disguise its central focus behind its many layers of subversive beauty. But its beauty is not in the conventional, it here is reimagined through the reflection of ourselves, it does not hide away from brutality nor violence. You Animal You deserves to be seen; it’s on now at Arts House North Melbourne, part of Dance Massive 2019. 

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