It’s Friday. As much as I love working my half day at Murdoch every Friday morning I couldn’t suppress the smile that broadened across my face as I unlaced my work shoes in the office, changing in to my gym clothes, before skipping down the stairs to the road between the public hospital and the private hospital. I have two days off work. This weekend we also had tickets to performances for both the Perth International Arts Festival and the Perth Fringe Festival.
Tonight’s tickets were for, Within, which I didn’t read carefully the blurb for before agreeing to book. It looked like kathak. I trained in Bharatanatyam; they’re similar styles but with some deep differences. Some mention of contemporary influence or style failed to trigger warning. We showered and changed for our night out. We even went for dinner at Is Donburi, a Japanese restaurant on William St.
When the curtain lifted and the lights painfully slowly faded into existence the contemporary work began, as so many other contemporary dance works began, with dancers intently but seemingly randomly and purposelessly running across the stage. I groaned. When the first dancer elaborately crumpled to the floor mid run-from-left-to-right my shoulders slumped. This was going to be a long, long forty minutes of my life.
I’ve been very scientific in my thinking over the past few months. In contrast to when I was employed as a dancer in a contemporary dance company, my mind is not currently thinking in the vernacular of arts writing. I read the program, “I revisited… the Shiva Shakti relationship… violence… Struggles… Needed to be questioned.” Instead of the question resonating with me and nodding in assent, I was irritated. All I could think was, Why? Where are the data that support that statement? How did the previous information lead to this very definitive conclusion!?
Thankfully the second half provided a little toward more pure dance that I had been craving; the second work opened with six performers lit by a square of golden light with a focus on footwork. Their heads were wrapped in fabric, which resolved the problem I had had in the first work with all but one dancer’s vacant gaze. Instead of being frustrated by unfocused eyes not seeing what was in their direction of gaze their heads were golden fabric-wrapped shapes of head. I was enthralled. My thighs began to twitch, remembering similar rhythms to the Bharatanatyam technique that was drilled into them thirty years ago, but dormant for the past fifteen years. The performers then blended spoken word with the jatis for the movement, sounding like a live Shiela Chandra track.
I was glad we had stayed and even indulged the narcissistic-for-Perth never-ending bows. We didn’t stay for the post show discussion.
In the foyer I bumped into Arpana, a colleague from work, who had just started kathak classes at The Temple of Fine Arts. Then a voice screamed, “Glen!” and Phillippa Clarke bounded into my field of view. The Artistic Director of 2 Dance Plus in 1994, my first ever season working with Steps Youth Dance Company, still remembered me, 22 years on. It was good to see her.
Time to meet up with Ben & Dion, who were at a Fringe show in the cultural centre. Perth has woken up for the festival season; it’s crawling with punters.