Monchichi @ Dunstan Playhouse, Adelaide 12/1/2019

Dance company Wang Ramirez, established in 2007 by Honji Wang and Sebastien Ramirez, brought their 2017 Bessie Award (New York Dance and Performance Awards) nominated production Monchichi to Adelaide for the annual French Festival. Staged at the Dustan Playhouse to a nearly sold-out audience Monchichi showcased a fusion of hip hop, contemporary dance and unexpectedly, comedy.

Artistic Director Wang isn’t Chinese. That, she ensured everybody in the audience heard loud and clear when she screamed it out during the performance. She is German-born of Korean heritage. Artistic Director Ramirez, on the other hand, is French-born with a Spanish heritage. This synthesis of culture is at the core of Monchichi, a story of two people creating a life together; a romance in diverse idioms.

The minimalist set, designed by Ida Ravn, consisting of a giant white screen and floor was enhanced only by the minimalist lighting, designed by Cyril Mulon. This served to concentrate all the attention on Wang and Ramirez. Whether it be via shadows, silhouettes or in plain sight through numerous on-stage costume changes the dancers commanded the room leaving the audience captivated so much so that you could hear a pin drop when the music, composed by Ilia Koutchoukov aka Everydayz / +∞, stopped. Together, this on and off stage couple demonstrated familiarity and sensuality with each other. Not only via the incredible dancing but through their surprising comedic vocal interactions of which there were several. Each were perfectly timed to serve as comedic relief and to allow the dancers to regain their breath.

Monchichi is more than just a contemporary dance performance. It is a tale about relationships, language barriers and cultural differences. It is about diversity and similarity and then finding the perfect equilibrium amongst it all. Adelaide French Festival audiences were treated to the only Australian performances of Monchichi. The rousing applause at the conclusion of the performance indicated how appreciative we were of this and the wonderful work of Wang and Ramirez.

Live Review by Anita Kertes

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