Yang Liping, last presented Under Siege, as part of Melbourne Festival in 2017, and while this most recent works bares many of the choreographers trademarks, it is lacking in the strengths that marked Lipings first international work. This is not to say the experience as a dance performance is in anyway bereft, it simply feels as though too much has been crammed into this performance, and through process much has been lost in literal translations, it does indeed venture to far from the original work, created in 1913 by Stravinsky.
Upon entering State Theatre, the performance has already commenced, with 13 dancers braced in a central position. A single figure goes about arranging large calligraphic symbols, smoke wafts from the stage and swirls upwardly. The soundtrack opens as evocative and eastern, the work of composer He Xuntian- aids in settling the audience into a space separate to what exists outside the performance arena. It is incredible stuff, an example of theatre’s powerful ability and transformative nature.
The performance remains at its greatest heights whilst still working with this more modern score, when it dips into the realms of the original score, the mix becomes to heady, audiences are reduced to grasping at any and all images trying to ascertain exactly what is transpiring.
The choreographer is guttural, brutal and unflinching in equal balance, it unfurls into spaces which are highly sexualised and breathless in their lust.
True to form for a work of this scale, the costuming is elaborate, the lighting is impressive and together the whole production almost presents as a cohesive whole, it does however lapse momentarily, awkward breaks in the performance leave audiences wondering, if in these particular moments, we are meant to applaud.
As a 90 minute dance work, the time seems to at once stand still yet transpire in the blink of an eye, as the performers take their final bow, the audience take a much needing exhale whilst simultaneously not wanting the experience to end. All in all, this is an accomplished piece of dance, and on a scale our local appreciation of dance-barely warrants.