In a festival program which says as much about the state of dance, as it does our current consumption of dance, this year’s Melbourne Festival have chosen to re-mount three locally produced works. These three pieces are Lloyd’s seminal Overture, Stephanie Lake’s larger than life Colossusand andSplit by Lucy Guerin.
And while much can be said about this perhaps being lazy programming, the festival should in turn be commended for allowing each of these works the development time to become even more astute, while each new presentation has in turn strengthened each of these three performance in so many ways.
This review looks at Split- and full disclosure, I have toured and danced with Ashley McLennan, whom alongside Lillian Steiner performs in the blistering pas de deux, its cracking choreography and presents probably one, if not the best work created locally for quite some time. Straight up, there is simply nothing to fault about this work, every element works in an intrinsic fashion drawing the audience deeper and deeper into this imagined and rather dark world.
The opening choreography is so perfectly executed by these two dancers it’s jaw dropping. The rhythmic score helps settle the audience into a trance like state and as the performance continues and the boundaries of the physical shrink further, a heightened sense of depravity and desperation grows.
Enough is presented here for audiences to draw their own narrative conclusions, though Split also presents a clear structure, which is perhaps testament to the works continued popularity among both the general public and more discerning dance goers. To say that this work feels accomplished, is perhaps reductive, as it feels so assured, that is confidence is intoxicating and its magnetism, pulling.
In latter scenes where the two dancers quite literally split from each other, the work turns menacing, from blistering pas de deux to a deathly dual between two waring entities. It completes the vision in a visceral and unresolved state, spitting out the audience whole yet altered as to who they were before witnessing this work.
Yes this work has been seen before, but part of the responsibility held by our major arts festivals, is to reflect upon and celebrate, the very best among our city has to offer- and Split, does exactly that.