5 Mar 2006 tangent23   » (Apprentice)

Review :: Devolution :: Australian Dance Theatre

Incorporating robotics with dancers, ADT's Devolution was an extremely high energy exploration of the conflicts and confluences between humans and machines.

The dancers themselves moved in sycopated yet organic ways, echoing and echoed by the machines themselves, which ranged from huge piston driven light scaffolds, to smaller bug like creatures.

Although not autonomous [i think], the machines were programmed as an integral aspect of the performance.

They were not designed to be anthropomorphic, rather the dancers themselves moved in ways that seemed 'extended human', as if the human body itself had been reprogrammed.

The dancers' movements were informed by a more biological approach to machine design rather than the cliche angular 'robotic' type movements of popular culture. At times they would combine and recombine in strange ways [well, strange to anyone unfamiliar with cellular automata ;)].

At times the dancers were also 'augmented' by prostheses as the lines between organic and inorganic became blurred.

It reminded me at times of the cult Japanese metal fetish movie, Tetsuo: Iron Man [http://project.cyberpunk.ru/idb/tetsuo.html] as humans would twine, move and join together with themselves and their metal counterparts..

The notion of machine biologies was explored in ways not seen much in western culture, closer to an 'anime' [Japanese animation] cyborgian aesthetic [dancers moving in ways almost but not quite human] often unexpected dynamics.. stuttering movements, falling down as if power had been suddenly removed, 'flock' behaviour.. etc..

The whole performance was violent, hyper kinetic, sensual.

The music was industrial tech noise, with harsh grinding sounds and electronic haze, enhancing the hydraulic nature of much of the actual machine sounds. The video aspects were more 'genetic' in nature, images of bodies combined and recombined in a kind of post-human cell division.

The ADT has been touring their shows the last few years, so if it comes near you, I would definitely recommend you go see it, especially if you like modern dance and/or robotics..

Devolution::Australian Dance Theatre

Artistic Director: Garry Stewart [Australia]

Machine Designer: Louis-Philippe Demers [Canada]

Filmmaker: Gina Czarnecki [UK]

ADT Home Page [inc. video link]: http://www.adt.org.au/page/default.asp?page=Repertoire&site=1

tangent23 Adelaide, South Australia March 2006

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