PERTH FESTIVAL 2021 | Archives of Humanity | 5 Stars

Review | Laura Money

Tracing the human experience through its journey from primordial slime to the teeming collective gracing this planet today, Archives of Humanity meditates on the essentialism of human life, distilling it to its core in a tumultuous and dynamic expression that weaves its pattern in a jawdropping choreographed piece that speaks to the primal self and what it means to be a community. This show is perhaps Co3‘s most ambitious project – a culmination of Artistic Director Raewyn Hill‘s stunning vision and the company’s unwavering capacity to impress. It stares humanity directly in the eye and charts its messy yet hopeful journey with over twenty diverse dancers performing their guts out, stripping back life itself to its core in a viscerally present work. It’s perfectly impressive.

As the piece is a representation of migratory movements throughout human existence, one begins with an immersive walk through the stunningly unique set. Created by the community, the Bird Makers Project saw people create black birds from personal garments that hold memories or meaning as a way to connect during isolation. The resulting exhibition is a beautiful collection of stories and expressions of emotion by the WA community – their thoughts and stories suspended above in a soaring and hopeful act of transcendence. Journeying through this collective accumulation of life moments, one has the opportunity to dip their toe in the water by merely being present amongst the works or diving in, fully immersing themselves into these shared experiences with an app that allows for more insights into the project. After filling oneself up emotionally, the audience takes its seat and awaits the natural extension of the migration story. The stage is set – a deceptively simple square of compact builder’s sand resembling a giant rodeo – and a ripple of excitement washes over the crowd. We are about to see something special.

The strength of this work is its simplicity – designed, devised, and directed by Raewyn Hill, her intuitive design skills knit perfectly with the choreography and imagery that convey a playful yet intense piece of physical theatre unafraid to stretch the soul to capacity. Drawing lines in the sand symbolically traces humanity’s compelling journey across this very earth, the dancers churning the sand into new patterns that dramatically scatter in a bid for transcendence. Eden Mulholland‘s theatrically visceral score thrums through the entire work, anchoring it with a richness of sound that speaks to the vitality of the piece. Combining original composition and dramatic well known works such as Vivaldi’s Gloria, Mulholland draws from a deep well of artistic expression and intelligently embeds historically important work into the musical journey of Archives of Humanity. Hill is constantly evolving her practice and motivations, and with this piece she explores the fundamentals of humanity in a series of moving vignettes that flow effortlessly into one another – a moving tableau of life itself that builds up both a sense of community and individualism in exquisite and tumultuous movement.

Visually, the whole thing is stunning. The ensemble of dancers all reference a collective of humanity throughout different eras in a heady mix of Tudor ruffs, Victorian nightgowns, 80s catwalk pieces that are rendered timeless when shaken together like a snow globe to create a cohesion present in both movement and aesthetic. Hill dives headfirst into an exploration of community and the support one has for humanity, at times it’s business as usual and figures move in synch but individually – weaving in and out of each other’s pathways in harmony. At other times, perhaps representative of tumultuous times such as war and pestilence the floor churns with bodies throwing themselves at life in a visceral display of desperation. In all of these moments the one thing that remains solid is the physical support given to one another – the performers move in blocks of people, literally and figuratively supporting one another be it on each other’s shoulders or to simply catch another dancer as they fall. Each performer represents a vast array of experiences from physical age and gender, to echoes of previous generations and perhaps that is what makes this work an entire experience.

Archives of Humanity is the physical embodiment of its statement – a visual representation of humanity’s journey that speaks to all. It’s a multidisciplinary, multigenerational, and dynamic piece – the essence of human experience incarnate. Boiling and bubbling over with raw humanism, this bold piece will keep you on the edge of your seat as you watch these performers push themselves to the brink of existence itself. Let Co3 drag you into their frenzied world – picking up the invisible lines of historical humanity and wrenching them seething and pulsing back into the world, their hearts beating loudly once more.

You can get your tickets to the greatest show on earth HERE and download the app prior to your visit HERE

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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+


Past Production, Review

REVIEW: Wonder Woman

Performer Laura Boynes places her audience centre-stage in a bid to highlight the direct response to the support of women’s movements ‘and the #meetoo & Time’s Up social media campaigns empowering women around the world.’ There is solidarity in our being on stage with her – although still observing, by placing her audience alongside her on the main stage of the Heath Ledger Theatre, Boynes recreates a movement and begets a feeling of camaraderie.

Wonder Woman –  two pieces by Sydney-based choreographers Julie-Anne Long and Adelina Larsson in collaboration with Boynes is a physical contemporary dance response to issues faced by the feminist movement. Wonder Woman reimagines feminism as a superhero and Boynes becomes the physical manifestation of that thought process – there are references to classical ways women’s bodies have moved historically, and raw, emotional expressions of the inner self. Layered with questions of identity and response, both pieces explore theories of self and social expectations of women.

The show begins with To Be Honest: a girl’s own collection of unconfirmed tales by Julie-Anne Long – a quirky and hilarious piece that layers multiple stories of girlhood (each just as plausible as the next) over personal and deliberate movement. Beginning in a breathtaking sequence to traditional ballet music from Coppelia, Boynes moves playfully through the empty theatre seats in what can only be described as a onesie-blanket. This is delightful to watch and as Boynes loses each layer of clothing, she adds a new layer of girlhood to her story. Boynes wrestles her agency throughout the story, interrupting the voice over and refusing to synchronise her movements with the tale. Feminism as a superhero manifests itself in Boynes’ own telling of her story and her omissions. Her movements are fun and playful, at times hilarious, but always full of expression. Make no mistake – lighthearted movements are just as important and deep as serious ones.

If the first piece placed Boynes in a place of agency performing how she wanted, Larsson’s Rite II: Solo counters that by giving the audience what they expect from contemporary dance. At times it feels as though Boynes is reluctant to express herself in this way – deliberately sabotaging herself by falling heavily or writhing under the emotional weight of expectation. The composition is disturbing – Shoeb Ahmad combines pre-recorded and live loops to create an ‘almost’ song. Boynes’ gasps and claps, and guttural utterances are played as if they are records played backwards – a voiceless transgression of music and polar opposite of the first piece.

Boynes’ movements are also a stark contrast to the first work – she jerks and twitches and writhes on the floor – pulling herself up against an invisible force that hinders her every movement. Hands firmly stuck in her pockets, Boynes thrashes about in frustration of her movement being stifled in a visceral interpretation of womens’ eternal struggle against the structures that continue to oppress them. She strips herself of voice, ‘washes’ her limbs, sheds her wigs (and multiple identities hinted at in the first half) and reduces herself to her raw essence – woman.

Wonder Woman is a challenging and present work featuring remarkable women choreographers and a stunning talent on the rise in Boynes. She is a phenomenal performer – lithe, humurous, and full of expression – Boynes’ star is definitely on the rise.

Review | Laura Money

Wonder Woman played at the State Theatre Centre of WA on the Heath Ledger Theatre stage from 28 – 31 August 2019




REVIEW: The Line

Review | Amanda Lancaster

Cuts leave scars, scars leave tracks, tracks can be followed.

Shadow Lines; Stephen Kinnane

Kinnane writes of the lines and boundaries created and imposed upon society, how the definitions of these niche areas in physicality and social structure can be of such an inflexible and narrowly definitive nature around us that they in turn create echos and ripples within us which is what Kinnane calls shadow lines.

Shadow lines are the places within our own minds that hold certain beliefs and make up our own sense of self and belonging or alienation. These are the area’s of negotiation, cognitive understanding and connectivity the lines we draw, cross, follow or erase throughout our history stories and lives.

Co3 has taken on the bold and heady task of putting some of Kinnane’s philosophical ideologies about lines and boundaries, how they are created, changed and altered not just in a sense of the physical or geographical but also our very base thought function an interactive systems as human beings.

The Line tells of the often forgotten, unspoken and unfortunate period in WA’s historical background that saw a geographical segregation line on a map cause a traumatic long standing shadow line of oppression drawn between colonising parties of the time and the Nyungar people of Perth.

Created by Co3 founding director and one of the foremost professionals in the field of dance to date Raewyn Hill and associate artist and co-director the Award winning Mark Howett it’s not hard to see why The Line is getting rave reviews from audiences.

Featuring an almost skeleton cast for such a huge topic the show features just a trio of – as always – exquisitely talented dancers. Nyungar dancer and guest artist Ian Wilkes, CO3 founding dancer and guest artist Andrew Searle and last but not least Co3 founding dancer and artist Katherine Gurr. Alongside and also interspersed quite literally at times during the shows performance The Line also stars the renowned musical artists classical-accordionist James Crabb and composer/musical director Eden Mulholland.

The performance is a dense textured layering of haunting melancholy and sadness which is at times quite palpable to the point of bringing audience members to literal tears. This serious vibe and often unrelenting mood of tension is beautifully handled. The music, lighting, movement and everything that has bought the audience so powerfully up to a single moment of what feels like almost breaking point is then cleverly broken up at repetitive intervals with an almost black humoured slapstick violence and humour akin to that of a vaudevillian shows aesthetic and then just as suddenly bought to a halting stop.

Cue the slow motion, silent, screaming, nightmarish, captured realism of violence and trauma played out with such aesthetic beauty and grace of movement that one might be forgiven the momentary lapse that this is all stemming from our actual historical and cultural make up.

The use of minimalist setting design is both beautiful in look and almost eerie in feel, a hand full of unadorned chain link swing sets hang and sway gently seemingly by themselves from the rafters, condensed lighting barely shines down in narrow pyramids and lines. The choices one assume are made to further heighten the segregated elements between light and dark and does so with subtle elegance.

Contemporary dance for some may be hard to understand to define what is happening within the narrative flow, however Co3 have once again taken an often hard to swallow topic and laid it out for the world to see.

It is important I think to mention that Co3 have beautifully taken the philosophical inspiration of Kinnane’s work, the delicate subject matter of our Australian history and amalgamated the elements of this show, not to show u something concrete, not to tell you what to think or feel and not to define this moment in our cultural background with their own line of understanding but to ask the audience to perhaps consider where they draw their own lines from now on.

Whatever you do, do not miss this thought provoking heart aching performance.

WHEN: 16th – 19th May 2019 | 7:30pm & 4:00pm

WHERE:  Heath Ledger Theatre | State Theatre Centre of WA

INFO: Tickets $55 | Duration 60 mins | DANCE


In Brief, Past Production

IN BRIEF: Burrbgaja Yalirra



Three stories for country

From the creators of Gudirr Gudirr, Cut the Sky and Burning Daylight, Burrbgaja Yalirra (Dancing Forwards) is an evocative triple bill of new solo works.

Curated by Marrugeku’s Artistic Directors Dalisa Pigram and Rachael Swain, each work is an invitation from our leading change makers to experience intercultural exchange.

Each performer is exceptional. Edwin Lee Mulligan tells the story of his ancestors through music and dance. His lilting narration is lyrical in his native Walmajarri tongue and his moves are expressive and weave the story in with traditional and contemporary feeling.

Miranda Wheen takes her namesake and re-imagines herself as the girl picnicking at Hanging Rock. Her precise and almost robotic moves are evocative of being pulled through time and also having no control over her body. Her work is phenomenal.

Finally, Eric Avery brings two cultures crashing together, fiercely and defiantly playing the violin and dancing to the frenzy and fray created by the rapid notes. It is apologetically confronting, and one hundred and ten percent brilliant.

Led by visionaries Marrugeku, an unparalleled presence in Australia today dedicated to Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians working together, join this vibrant retelling and re-awakening of histories, locations and languages.

WHEN: 7 – 16 June 2018 | 7:30pm

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

INFO: Tickets $20 – $32 | Duration 80 mins (no interval)


JG18028_Edwin Lee Mulligan in Ngarlimbah picture by Jon Green.jpg

Image credits: Jon Green