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Performance Space at CarriageWorks present De Quincey Co in TRIPTYCH.

On the card used for publicity it states

“TRIPTYCH examines three elements-air, electricity and water-through dance, sonic and visual structures.”

In the program notes

“Our global respiration draws from air and water that has existed for 4.5 billion years. Our first and last breath define a human cycle; the water implicit within our bodies is a necessity for all known carbon based life; whilst the electrical sparks of the synapses which link us to the electric sheath and circuitry that kickstarts and maintains life processes, must be present for any of our “thoughts” to take place.”

De Quincey Co is Australia’s leading Body Weather company which builds on several decades of work by dancer-choreographer Tess De Quincey in Europe, Japan, India, and Australia. BODY WEATHER is a contemporary dance performance training founded in Japan by butoh dancer Min Tanaka.” With the dance techniques practised by Tess De Quincey, four of her collaborators, Peter Fraser, Victoria Hunt, Linda Luke and Lizzie Thompson are variously successful in giving us an experience exploring the original impetus of the work. The sonic/sound composition is by Chris Abrahams (best known for his work as pianist with the improvising trio The Necks.) Visual contribution/video footage is by Tess De Quincey; the oscilloscopes are manged by Robin Fox with sensitive lighting by Travis Hodgson.

We are ushered through a back entrance into the usual Performance Space Theatre into a narrow tunnel of space limited by a back wall and in front of us three large-scale video screens. The audience form themselves along the “tunnel” and either stand or sit on the floor (a few benches, chairs are available). The screens are filled with images of cherry blossoms being blown by air, the wind. At this close distance, probably eight or ten feet away, the images appear to be immense and are mesmerisingly beautiful. In front of the screens the startlingly adept and exquisite Peter Fraser is executing a dance of immense delicacy and power. Mr Fraser was recently part of the Performance Space New Works season where he presented TARKOVSKY’S HORSE. This work and Mr Fraser’s work in TARKOVSKY’S HORSE is astounding for its beauty and complexity. And here in this featured work he is no less a treasure to behold. His whole body is magnificently attenuated to his choreographer’s demands. At this closeness I was able to observe the mental and physical concentration and power of this artist. Dressed in a light kimono his feet were astounding for their flexibility and control. But in a truly devastating moment of creative belief and ownership, for several minutes Mr Fraser became with elongated twisted backward arms a flying crane in the air above the cherry blossoms. This artist is exemplary in his skill and seems to me, after witnessing both these works, the major achiever in this Body Weather technique. Lizzie Thomson joins Mr Fraser in this piece in front of the screen and though skillful as well, is not able to impact on the creative fervour that Mr Fraser demands of us. The other dancers appear as fleeting shadows, large and small, on the screens. All the elements, especially the sound, are harmonious in creating a wonderful experience.

The screens are moved about the space, the oscillators are re-placed to fill the screens and the audience is displaced into another viewing configuration. This section concerns electricity: images of yellow/orange flashes of tortured captured electrical energy is projected. The sound minimalistic scratches. This time, the different but similarly concentrated skills of Victoria Hunt begin to dominate my choice of contact. (Mr Fraser is not dancing.) The energy of “giving”, the sense of creating a performance for an audience is telegraphed from all the workings of this dancer’s body. Here too is great performance skill and technique. Her co-dancers Linda Luke and Lizzie Thomson are present but their work seems much more private, internalised. For me this section went on for far too long and could probably benefit from some editing.

The last section involve water.The screens move again. Images of a gently swelling ocean. Here the piano sounds of Mr Abrahams are marvellously atmospheric. The dancers (without Mr Fraser once more) undulate through the imaged permutations of flotsam and jetsam, on and under the water surface. It is more interesting than the second phase of the work. Finally the screens fade out and the dancers, all four, move to a central light and “bob and weave” to the slowly fading source.

This is an inconsistent experience but has moments of magic scattered throughout it to keep one engaged. The first Cherry Blossom sequence dominated by the contribution of Mr Fraser is so moving that the other two sections suffer because of the order they exist in. The best of the wine: served first!!! This time last year The De Quicey Co presented a site specific work THE STIRRING at the Performance Space. That work for me has been the high bench mark of achievement of this company. TRIPTYCH is an honourable second, in my experiencing of the company but should be unmissable for dance/movement lovers just to see the astonishing achievement of Peter Fraser.