Review: The Dinner Party is a Feast of Contemporary Dance
Nestled in the quieter part of QPAC during the hustle and bustle for Book of Mormon, a feast of contemporary dance was taking place at the intimate Cremorne Theatre.
The Dinner Party, presented by Expressions Dance Company, is centered around The Host, performed by Jake McLarnon and a range of a dinner party guests, all with distinct personalities and intentions.
Right from the beginning, you can see the power, strength, and technical facility that each of the dancers possessed and it was a joy to see their hard work come to life. Their stage presence commanded attention for the entire hour-long production and Natalie Weir’s choreography ebbed and flowed, returning to certain themes throughout to keep the audience engaged.
Overall, the piece was rather dark as Weir played on themes of love, loyalty, guilt, desire, and greed. Yet, being contemporary dance, the storyline wasn’t in your face and obvious. Audience members could draw their own conclusions about who held the power at any given moment but the final scene was an undeniable declaration of who was really in control.
With the combination of lighting and staging, there were moments that were downright eerie – party guests dimly lit in the background posing as if they were portraits in a haunted mansion. It really gave you the feeling you were in the home of a rich and powerful couple, trying to find your place at the table.
The dancers were in black and white and you could see how costume designer Gail Sorronda played with the opposition, really working to keep the complexity of the story intact without distracting from the power struggle between the ensemble. Plus, audiences will be surprised at how such a simple set (a table and some chairs) can create different shapes and mesmerising transitions.
Still, The Dinner Party wasn’t without its cheeky moments. A duet between McLarnon and Jag Popham who played The Wannabe was a standout scene, phenomenal in its technical finesse, unique choreography, and pure showmanship. It received a round of applause mid-show which felt like an appropriate response to the sheer delight the audience felt from the number.
The original music, recorded by the Southern Cross Soloists, is heavily string-based which calls for interesting and thought-provoking feelings that Weir was able to capture in movement. The only downside is that the music is not performed live.
Overall, the show flowed seamlessly from one scene to the next and the heavily partnered choreography continuously connected the dancers and was truly impressive. The amount of strength and trust needed to perform this type of work can definitely be appreciated, even by those who aren’t well-versed in contemporary dance.
If you enjoy modern art yet have never found yourself at a contemporary dance show, now’s your chance. Perfect for an intimate date night, everyone will be able to appreciate the beauty of The Dinner Party and it’ll hopefully leave you thinking about where you fit at a dinner table.
The Dinner Party is showing at the Cremorne Theatre until 18 May before they head on a regional tour of Australia.
What: The Dinner Party
Where: QPAC’s Cremorne Theatre
When: 10-18 May
How Much: $65
Anything Else: Get your tickets here.
Images by David Kelly.