Sunday, December 16, 2007

(D) Not Quite Right - Oct 19-20, 2007

Wonky furniture, nimble dancers

When is a table not a table? When it is actually a dancer who has a table lamp on her back. Here is a tale of strange homewear that simply won’t sit still.

THE revenge of IKEA rejects, that’s what this story was really about.

Titled table tops, three-legged chairs, a see-saw bench and other such furniture took centre stage during Not Quite Right, the result of the collaborative efforts of Melbourne-based set designer Justin Caleo and Tokyo-based choreographer Chie Ito, founder of Strange Kinoko Dance Company.

The performance was produced as part of the Australia-Japan Dance Exchange 2006 programme.

Caleo claimed that after talking to Ito and understanding more of her company’s works, he designed a set that suited their style.

Playful dance moves portray a carefree spirit.
– Photos by WEE LIN / Kelab Shashin

The set was made up of colourful and quirky furniture and unconventional lighting – light bulbs were screwed onto ordinary domestic items such as saucepans and coat hangers. A big bottle with a door formed the backdrop and this served as the main entrance and exit point for the dancers.

It seems that Caleo wasn’t the only one playing designer. Ultimately the performance was also about forming shapes, courtesy of the unconventional choreography.

Ito’s “chair’’ changed form as moving bodies dictated its final shape. A table lamp placed on a dancer’s back made her into a “table’’. Ito’s attempts to “make her own furniture’’ and explore shapes were executed through dance with a lot of body contact and “lifting’’ techniques.

Ito's dance style had a playful and innocent quality to it, and there was an air of casualness to the performance – after all, aren’t domestic oddities part and parcel of life?

The dancers, always smiling, also portrayed the essence of a carefree spirit. They were nimble and quick, hopping on and off furniture effortlessly without fear of toppling off the unstable tables and chairs.

These movements flowed very well with the lovely music made up of a combination of lounge, swing, jazz, Hollywood classics, Japanese pop and music by avant garde Japanese talent, Ammakasie Noka.

The dance certainly gave me the impression that domestic life could be a dull thing and that the occupants of a home are constantly trying to inject fresh energy with perpetual home makeovers. (Sure enough, the dancers reorganised the stage by moving the furniture around). Also, everyday household chores like cleaning and scrubbing seem to have been exaggerated under the scrutiny of a floodlight.

There were several sequences in the dance that was repeated once too often, and a sense of monotony set in which doused the initial novelty of the performance.

Just as I was starting to feel like watching a Desperate Housewives repeat (minus the naughty bits), suddenly, one of the dancers came forth with a puppet which grooved to a Nat King Cole number. This item was a departure from the rest of the dance albeit the cutest and most adorable.

Well, all said, there is no such thing as a perfect shape, home, or dance. It's what you make of it.

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