Short+Sweet Festival 2013: Dance Gala Final

Short+Sweet DanceShort+Sweet Dance is now done and dusted and true to the tagline of this category the groups involved definitely danced up a storm!  I was thrilled to see that some of my personal favorites from the rounds had made it through to the Gala Final.

A few highlights for me: Sophie Follett’s Kei Wareware Tatou (Lest We Forget) was just as moving and riveting to watch the second time round as the first and I thoroughly enjoyed experiencing the charming tale of The Crocodile And Monkey again by Prayas Youth Theatre.

Watching an encore of Melana Khabazi’s vivid and energetic Espressivo and also the cheeky and highly entertaining Body Party by Ula Naulutubutubu-Buliruarua actually made me appreciate these two performances even more.

I liked that the riotous dance doco Whose Dance Is It Anyway? by Phoebe Heyhoe and team showcased more dance routines this time round while still effortlessly delivering a very unique performance of hilarious improv and quick-witted banter with the audience.

Overall what an impressive display of creative storytelling through choreography and dance by all involved!  It is truly inspiring to see such fantastic and upcoming talent in this area of performing arts.

Congratulations to all the acts that made it to the Final and congrats also to those who left as award winners!

Here are my reviews of the rounds:
Short+Sweet Dance Week 1
Short+Sweet Dance Wildcard
Short+Sweet Dance Week 2

Next up: Short+Sweet Song!  Click here for details and to purchase tickets.

Short+Sweet Festival 2013: Dance Week 2

Short+Sweet Dance

The final round of Short+Sweet Dance was the most eclectic of the bunch, with jungle animals, dancing nuns and even a game show.  Here’s what I thought:

Elegant Error 4/5
A compelling “movement study” which draws us in to the inner world of dance and what it takes to be an elite professional dancer.  The performance is made up of a series of intriguing and visually striking ballet vignettes with the performer skillfully showing us not only the physical strength and determination involved but also the inner turmoil that inevitably occurs.

Allegations 5/5
This two hander is a superb symbolic illustration of the downward spiral a marriage can take once it passes that initial honeymoon stage.  The piece is well crafted and choreographed with clever use of contemporary dance to represent the journey; the performers go from moving in unison hand in hand to (literally) becoming a burden on each other seamlessly and with impressive strength and grace.

Mating Rituals Of The 21st Century 3/5
A fascinating group performance akin to a night out on the dance floor with the performers emerging from the wings in turn delivering popular dance moves.  The free-flowing style gives the entire piece a trance-like quality and while there isn’t a specific narrative per se, it still makes for quite an engrossing watch.

Whose Dance Is It Anyway? 4/5
A clear crowd favorite, this comical and entertaining “dance doco” is a play on the improv game show Whose Line Is It Anyway?.  Like the original programme, this piece is almost entirely improvised with audience participation key to the hilarity that ensues – the performers are incredibly quick witted and effortlessly garner laughs, even after they have left the stage.  Personally while I did enjoy it, I think this piece would have been better suited in the theatre category.

The Crocodile And Monkey 5/5
This dramatic dance piece is a modern retelling of an Indian fable, wonderfully conveyed through narration, an animated score, colorful costumes and a brilliant mesh of contemporary dance and Bharatnatyam, an ancient Indian classical dance style.  This was my personal favorite of the night as it is short and sweet storytelling at its finest and the perfect embodiment of this category, in my opinion.

Be-Sides 3/5
This performance is a look back on twentieth century popular music with even the use of a record player for added nostalgic effect.  Using the vinyl records, the two performers reminisce and share stories from their life based on their collection which they artistically fan out on the stage; I liked the quirky nature of this piece – eccentric and slightly absurd yet captivating.

Daylight Come And We Want To Go Home 1/5
Four male ape-like creatures (presumably, judging by their gait and mannerisms) are caught in an unexplained tribal style battle which even extends beyond the stage.  I struggled with this piece – it lacked narrative structure and coherence, and if there was a metaphorical message, sadly it didn’t translate (to me, anyway).

Untitled Drag Performance With Ghosts 2/5
Based on Thomas Hanna’s approach on sensory awareness and fluid movement, this solo interpretative dance is a visual representation of this concept and it is an enigmatic and haunting piece albeit possibly too obscure to be universally appreciated.  I thought the use of imagery from the performer’s mad costume to the wayward choreography against the projected image was particularly effective.

Collage 3/5
Closing the show is an interesting quartet – a group of nuns with a dancing proclivity for 60s Motown tunes.  These “soul sisters” deliver attitude and energy all while (true to character) always looking heavenward in an engaging display of expressive and dynamic choreography.

Overall another great selection of storytelling through dance and I especially loved that there were more narrative-based performances in this round.  Looking forward to seeing who makes the Gala Final!

Short+Sweet Dance will be at the Herald Theatre until June 9th.  Click here for tickets.

WEEK 1: Tuesday, May 28 – Saturday, June 1 2013 (Tues-Thur 7pm, Fri-Sat 8pm)
WILDCARD: Saturday, June 1 (3pm)
WEEK 2: Tuesday, June 4 – June 8 2013 (Tues-Thur 7pm, Fri-Sat 8pm)
GALA FINAL: Sunday June 9 (3pm & 7pm)

For the full festival programme, click here.

Short+Sweet Festival 2013: Dance Wildcard

Short+Sweet DanceAfter mostly solo acts at the Week 1 round, it was refreshing to see many larger groups performing at The Wildcards round.  Here’s what I thought:

The Blind Leading The Blind 3/5
Brief interaction with the audience quickly indicate that the setting of the first act is cabin crew staff presenting safety regulations, specifically “how to watch people moving in a lit space”.  I thought the tongue-in-cheek nature of the performance and the mime-esque choreography was very clever; just a shame the dialogue got slightly muffled by the airplane audio track.

Same Love 2/5
This two-hander mixes a jazzy style choreography with a hip hop track which I thought was an interesting pairing.  The dance is performed well and the lyrics of the song which promotes equality is moving and inspiring but the two elements just didn’t quite mesh together.

Moving Through New York 4/5
Lines between reality and fantasy are blurred in this dance medley which celebrates the Big Apple through song and the iconic New York subway system.  The quintet jump back and forth between two worlds – the regular humdrum of traveling the subway and an alternate reality which is represented through a collection of engaging and well structured ballet and jazz performances.

Mitera 3/5
A fascinating and incredibly restrained dance symbolizing a mother’s support for her son.  This duet makes full use of the performance space – their bodies frolic, connect and intertwine, skillfully moving as one unit from one end to the other with great strength and grace.

The Sound Of ‘Music’ 2/5
This large ensemble performance is a nod to arguably the most popular tune from the movie.  I liked the beginning and the end but I found the main body of the performance far too messy; the verbal exchanges unfortunately got lost under the track and the choreography while well crafted appeared to lack focus.

There Was A Time 5/5
A melancholic piece which conveys the effects of psychological and physical loss through some brilliantly well thought out choreography.  The trio are enthusiastic in their delivery and work together in perfect tandem, injecting personality and a touch of humor into their performance – they were a clear crowd favorite.

Wing$ 5/5
Another crowd favorite, this energetic performance explores the consumer culture, specifically people’s obsession with exclusive sneaker collections and branded gear.  The quintet are the youngest performers on the bill but they are skilled dancers beyond their years with bucket loads of attitude.

Transitional Space 1/5
This solo piece is strange and abstract but a little bit too much for my liking.  I liked the concept of the dancing against a projected image; there was a rather soothing almost haunting rhythm watching live versus filmed movement but when the imagery shifted to the performer in the second half, I found it far too self-indulgent.

Woman’s World 5/5
The final act celebrates women through a series of beautifully choreographed belly dances and what a visual treat it was!  Their colorful costumes and sensual dance moves are perfectly juxtaposed with the choice of music and everything comes together to form one slick and seamless performance.

Overall this was a much more diverse and mixed bag compared to the Week 1 round which I appreciated.  I daresay a few of the performances definitely deserve to move up from wildcard status if they choose to compete again next year!

Short+Sweet Dance will be at the Herald Theatre until June 9th.  Click here for tickets.

WEEK 1: Tuesday, May 28 – Saturday, June 1 2013 (Tues-Thur 7pm, Fri-Sat 8pm)
WILDCARD: Saturday, June 1 (3pm)
WEEK 2: Tuesday, June 4 – June 8 2013 (Tues-Thur 7pm, Fri-Sat 8pm)
GALA FINAL: Sunday June 9 (3pm & 7pm)

For the full festival programme, click here.

Short+Sweet Festival 2013: Dance Week 1

Short+Sweet DanceShort+Sweet is back!  Showcasing a plethora of bite-sized performances, this festival – now in its fourth year – is bigger and better than ever with the program split in to three categories: dance, song and theatre.

First up: Dance – Week 1 group.  Featuring a generous bill of twelve acts, it was quite the tasting platter!  Here’s what I thought:

Peace 5/5
A contemporary group dance backed by live vocals and guitar with a powerful message about how we make judgments on others.  The performance was a beautiful, seamless mesh of song and dance; the unplugged vibe made it a soothing piece yet the lyrics grabs your attention and makes you also reflect.

The Bachelor 5/5
Described as a “piss-take on the reality TV show The Bachelor”, this dance features a lot of amusing and rather “disjointed” choreography that oddly still comes across as graceful. Even if you have not watched the series, the hilarious dance moves of these five ladies which depict the various typical women who are on the show is entertainment enough.

Two.gether 4/5
A solid and well structured performance about the bond between brother and sister.  The two performers have an intuitiveness and undeniable chemistry that really does feel like one you might see shared between siblings.

Man/Made Heaven 3/5
This solo is quite an intriguing one; the performer has her back to us initially but excerpts from songs which bear clear religious themes draws us in.  This is juxtaposed well with the arresting dialogue that follows which she skillfully delivers like a remix track, however for me it was more monologue than dance piece.

Aima Andante 3/5
A stirring interpretative solo about a soul’s journey of reliving past memories.  Graceful and haunting dance with great use of the performance space and I thought the colored spotlights was a nice touch, adding another visual layer to the performance.

A Kathak Dance 4/5
This cultural piece is a refreshing one and with the dance involving ankle bells and the performer donning a bright and sparkling costume, it is both a treat to the ears and the eyes.  This is Bollywood meets tap dancing and it is a joyous watch.

Espressivo 5/5
Another solo piece and this one explores the different relationships people have with music.  The choreography is energetic and has a wonderful rhythmic quality to it that I found incredibly mesmerizing  – this was one of my favorites of the night.

Kei Wareware Tatou (Lest We Forget) 5/5
A highly emotive and chilling group performance which reflects on the lives of the Maori Battalion soldiers.  The piece is excellently crafted and choreographed; the performers work in harmony together while having great solo moments too and I loved the beautiful acappella rendition of Amazing Grace at the start and the end.

Virgin Insect 3/5
A captivating solo exploring the process of metamorphosis.  The choreography is edgy and visually engaging; the performer’s face is concealed initially which not only suits the theme but coupled with the dimly lit stage, added an element of mystery to the performance.

Flee 3/5
This very clever and tongue-in-cheek duet is physical comedy meets contemporary dance.  The two performers are adept dancers as well as effortless entertainers, garnering laughs easily with their comical facial expressions and slapstick-esque banter with each other.

Demi God Half Human 1/5
This dark piece is one which I struggled with and found to be extremely confusing – the lack of synopsis in the program didn’t help but I think that is the point.  The performance is very unsettling and visually disturbing especially near the end.

Body Party 5/5
The final performance is well placed at the end as it is a medley of many styles of dance and what happens when they all come together in a confused state.  A brilliantly choreographed piece with the performer smoothly merging into and  jumping between the different styles skillfully.

Overall it was certainly a visually stimulating seventy-five minutes that will prove that you do not need to solely rely on words to tell a story.  The performances are mostly within the realms of interpretative and contemporary dance so it is not quite the variety I was expecting to see but they were all very creative pieces so it was still an enjoyable watch.

Short+Sweet Dance will be at the Herald Theatre until June 9th.  Click here for tickets.

WEEK 1: Tuesday, May 28 – Saturday, June 1 2013 (Tues-Thur 7pm, Fri-Sat 8pm)
WILDCARD: Saturday, June 1 (3pm)
WEEK 2: Tuesday, June 4 – June 8 2013 (Tues-Thur 7pm, Fri-Sat 8pm)
GALA FINAL: Sunday June 9 (3pm & 7pm)

For the full festival programme, click here.