Grand Finale @ Festival Theatre, Adelaide 16/3/2019

10 Dancers, 6 men and 4 women take to the stage and this unforgettable modern dance performance begins. The 10 dancers are from 8 different countries and they move and writhe on stage sometimes in perfect synchronisation and sometimes with the 10 doing solos. This is a performance in waves where the dancers are both in and out of control and where they seem full of anarchic energy being released like they are exorcising spirits from deep inside them. At various times they are dragging each other around the stage like soldiers moving their wounded or dead comrades and then holding them and doing a macabre dance with the dead with them.

The recorded music was incredible and it was supplemented by a live quintet of classical musicians who are moved around the stage looking like the musicians on the deck of the Titanic who kept playing amidst the chaos. One of the musicians was wearing a life jacket so this analogy seemed clear to me. 

Choreographer Hofesh Shechter created this performance a few years ago and he has toured the world with it.  The first half is unrelenting and the recorded score which was composed by Hofesh filled the whole of the Festival Theatre. The dancers danced and at times moved giant black monoliths around the stage like they were dancers themselves. The frenetic pace would pick up as though they were wanting a cathartic release and then the pace slowed down and all dancers loped around the stage with open mouths looking like scary death masks. They reminded me of Donald Sutherland in the final chilling scene of the movie, Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

After an interval, so the dancers could hopefully have a rest the first part was joyous with traditional moves and music but this soon transformed into an energetic pace once again with their edgy and unsettling movements accompanied with the pulsating rhythm of the score. As it ended and the audience gave the performers a standing ovation I was thankful that this was included in the festival. The only disappointing thing was there were a few empty seats at the theatre. I feel this show would have been perfect for Her Majesties Theatre but sadly it is still being renovated.

This year was the most successful Adelaide Festival in terms of ticket sales and the artistic directors, Rachel Healy and Neil Armfield are to be commended for their choices. They have recently been extended in their jobs until 2023 and I can not wait for next years program. 

Adelaide Festival Review By Richard De Pizzol

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