REVIEW: Gui Shu (Belong)

What makes us belong to something? Maybe it is just a state of mind and Gui Shu (Belong) by Steamworks Arts clearly tempts your mind to explore those deep, innate and natural feelings in this masterful performance piece.

Writer/Director, Sally Richardson has the vision to make a deep idea into a show of subjective interpretation. On set are two locals of Perth and two visitors from Taiwan – all with an ability to dance – their moves speak in a way that transcends culture and time. In this busy, interconnected world – we conversely feel disconnected from the essence that unites us all. With creative forms of interpretive dance, the world is stripped back to our connection with nature and how we are so like it. In a minimalist setting, the small number of props are massive focal points, and this includes rocks that are as smooth as the movements of the performers.

There is a strong sense that Richardson cherishes celebrating the regions that she has experienced as both a local and as an outsider. With images of Mandurah and Taipei, a journey is needed for these contrasting places to be connected! Dance is a strong uniting voice because it is a universal tool of communication for the most primal emotions and spirituality. In contrast, the style is modern with an eclectic, technological based production that perfectly suits the venue of PICA – respectfully crafted that totally supports their ethos. There is a warm atmosphere of inclusion with special seating for those with access limitations and it does not matter where you sit because each area has its own unique perspective to bring to life. The use of lightly draped material that the dances can move as the backdrop is well inspired thinking, as it represents a sense of natural flow that we can feel in every footstep these performers make.

Sitting in the dark with clever intervals of light and imagery, your mind transforms to a pure state of consciousness that embraces your senses and feelings. Words are kept to a minimum to break past any conditioned beliefs – however, the further into the production the more humorous language is used to highlight the individual personality of the performers. Each moment has careful precision, where all body placement staging is broken down to the highest degree of detail. While watching this, there will be a sense of detachment because the act is not a direct message but rather a contemplation that goes deep into your soul. This is intense and may not be right for you if you are not open to challenging works of art. The beat of this natural art is personable with the four on stage displaying a charm that brings you into their world, even if it is a sense of the unknown. What you do realise is that there are many ways to display shape and colour!

In the beginning of Gui Shu (Belong) you may feel like you don’t belong but by the end you will understand that there are many ways to feel part of something special – like this coming together of global talent.

Review | Kieran Eaton

WHEN: 12 – 16 November 2019 | 7:30pm (7:15pm doors open)

WHERE: Perth Institute of Contemporary Art (PICA) | Northbridge

INFO: Tickets $15 – $32 | Duration 60m | Suitable 12+


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