where the heart is

Where The Heart Is

Expressions Dance Company

QPAC Playhouse

10th – 18th August 2012

Reviewed by Alys Gwillim

Expressions Where The Heart Is

Expressions Dance Company’s return season of Where the Heart Is well and truly stole my heart. The characters, the concept, the choreography, the staging and the score … I was in awe.

Originally created in 2010, the piece is and was charmingly elusive, yet worked with intense emotional importance, enhanced only by the effective collaboration between the dancers, musicians and creative team. The story itself allows memory, past, time and place to co – exist, suggesting events and outcomes rather than describing them in the most explicit way possible. Following a young man (A role shared between David Williams and Jack Ziesing) as he returns to his child hood home a glorious old Queenslander, all boarded up creating a treasure chest of memories and Pandora’s box even.

For the resurrection of the visual delight which has already won two Helpmann Awards for Best Ballet or Dance work, a Best Choreography in a dance of physical work, as well as an Australian Dance Award for Outstanding Performance by a Company. EDC welcomed Daryl Brandwood who played a pivotal role the Father. Acting/dancing opposite him in an equally pivotal role the Mother, Riannon Mclean revisited her old part. Like I said, the style in which this piece was choreographed merely hinted at domestic violence, the entire idea was portrayed beautifully, heartbreakingly and with a great deal of dignity.

For the entire cast this piece is an emotional roller coaster to say the least. Elise May took on the part of Grandmother. In all honesty I dubious of this role, watching an old decrepit woman (the character, not May!) inching her way across the stage did not interest me. I know! What was I thinking? Both the choreography and character choices made by May, allowed for the heartbreak of being trapped in a cage of a body something I could understand although I have never had that limitation.  On a lighter note the parts with Samantha Mitchell playing the First Love was a lovely break from the gloom. That killer smile put a smile on my face (Yes, I was grinning in the audience like a fool). Her dance partners, David Williams and Jack Ziesing did their job in making the girl ‘look good’. Taking Mitchell out of the equation, Williams and Ziesing paired together meant for brilliant, dynamic and masculine moments of movement.

On Friday, my fellow audience members and I followed Williams through his reliving of the memories the house held. No small task, let me tell you. There really wasn’t a moment that his character wasn’t on stage. Meaning he had to pluck those emotions ranging from in love, to angry to scared to concerned, out of nowhere. What I really appreciated about his performance was that it would have been so easy to steal the limelight being the ‘lead’ role. Instead he blended with every different dance partner he interacted with, showing his and his companions talent.

The staging of the work was to die for! Lights shining out of the floor as the memories are brought into the space. Sections of the house twirled and were brought forward revealing various scenes. Heightening the choreography as particularly male dancers showed off their immense strength doing pull ups and balances in the nooks and crannies of the set.

I truly believe the piece was so mesmerizing, purely because each aspect complimented the other. Which brings me to the score and the musicians performing it. It did everything it needed to do and more! It accentuated moments of great tension, heartbreak and joy. A combination of Christa Powell on Strings, Pearly Black’s vocals, and in the programme Marc Hannaford is credited for the piano. However whilst watching the performance a man with an unforgettable moustache graced my ears with his piano playing and the gentleman in the headshot does not have a moustache! Each member of the live trio were representing old folk songs and lullabies the mother would sing to the young man and his younger brother. My only issue with the music was when Ms. Black sang actual words, I found myself trying to find the meaning in those words not watching the dance in front of me. Along with Blacks costuming of deep plum purple and Braidwood’s wearing of black socks disrupting the very neutral coloring of other costumes and sets.  That is truly nit picking though!

I’m glad Expressions Dance Company, Natalie Weir (Choreographer and Artistic Director) and QPAC brought the work of art that is Where the heart is back to the stage where it belongs! It was awe inspiring, heartbreaking and moving. Everything a contemporary dance piece should be. I can’t wait to see what else Expressions have up their sleeve!

Expressions Where The Heart Is


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