Posts Tagged ‘richard grantham

03
Sep
17

DUSK

 

DUSK

Restrung 2017: The Viola Cloning Project & Zen Zen Zo

Restrung Productions

Brisbane Powerhouse Theatre

Saturday August 19 2017

 

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

 

 

 

DUSK is the third collaboration between renowned Australian composer and improviser Richard Grantham (aka The Viola Cloning Project) and leading contemporary performance company, Zen Zen Zo Physical Theatre.

 

DUSK is an exploration of the liminal, the space between, the threshold which facilitates transformation. The dancers move like shamans or spirit walkers between the light and dark, life and death, music and silence, weaving a shadowy web through the bitter-sweet original score of Richard Grantham’s live looped performance.

 

I’m becoming more and more familiar with Zen Zen Zo’s work from the inside. I’m completing my masters this year with founder and Co-Artistic Director, Dr Lynne Bradley, and training weekly with the company. A small group from the masters course recently spent time in Japan with Lynne to train and perform with Akaji Maro’s acclaimed butoh company, Dairakudakan, and we came back to experience DUSK.

 

A close collaboration for Restrung Festival with the extraordinary composer and performer, Richard Grantham, DUSK features original music and movement to lull the senses and at the same time, heighten the live experience. Grantham’s compositions are built from looped layers over melodic drones. From a basic viola line, the increasing complexity is deceptive; it’s such easy, meditative music to listen to, to dream to…

 

Having spent the best part of the last decade performing and touring with a multitude of bands, Grantham has become an adept improviser upon a large number of stringed, keyed and woodwind instruments. The loop recorder and other effects pedals turn his customised five-string carbon-fibre viola into a one-man string and percussion orchestra.

 

Grantham also sings into the viola, or across it, creating a mesmerising, ancient effect, not unlike spiritual singer, Sheila Chandra (now mute), bringing the piece to an intoxicating conclusion, which at both performances held the audience in silent reverie for the longest moment before thunderous applause, with many up standing.

 

Lynne was thrilled to work once again with Grantham. She told me, “This is my third time collaborating with the amazingly talented Richard Grantham. He is such a joy – huge talent, small ego, and willing to try anything! His openness and willingness to explore experimental contemporary performance modalities make him the perfect creative collaborator.”

 

The challenge for Lynne’s performers in this production was to stay in “minor” and allow Grantham the spotlight. Indeed, our focus at first appears to be on Grantham, but our eyes are naturally drawn to movement and it’s the dance of the four we mainly follow, as they meld in and out of the light, the shadows, and the haze; evocative states that have been sensitively and imaginatively realised by Simon Woods, while Grantham remains front and centre, beneath shades of white, on a raised dais for the duration.

 

 

The dancers are primordial, curled and rolling into the stage space from the wings. Unfurling, they gradually come to standing, demonstrating superb control and focus, which their (Suzuki and butoh) training brings. Their body stockings barely visible, we notice intricate vines of delicate blossoms winding around the bodies. When they step into Kaylee Gannaway’s luscious red full circle skirts, there is palpable excitement, because anyone who’s seen Zen Zen Zo’s In the Company of Shadows will know the joy of anticipation preceding Sufi whirling, to which these skirts are so well suited. I was terrified to try it, but to finish my first ever training session with the company we whirled for 25 minutes! The sensation was a long-lost memory of a feeling from childhood, spinning in the tall grass beyond the back yard, with arms outstretched until we fell down dizzy and giggling and crying out, “Again, again, again!” Throughout DUSK the dancers retain this sense of joyful abandonment, and also offer a sense of immense peace and calm, and quiet contemplation.

 

“I invited four of my favourite performers to appear in DUSK,” Lynne explains; “long-term collaborator Jamie Kendall, Travis Weiner, Gina Tay Limpus and Aurora Liddle-Christie. Their stage presence is mesmerising – I never fail to be profoundly moved watching them dance.” She says, “I can only equate it to the sensation of falling into a well which travels deep inside the earth – their connection to profundity is palpable.”

 

 

Their connection to profundity earns our complete commitment to the performance, regardless of whatever it was we might have been expecting. A loyal Zen Zen Zo fan might be surprised to see less of the grotesque, which is a bit of a butoh trademark and one that is embraced by the company. But this is not that show. These gentle shadows offer a chance to pause and reflect on the quietude that escapes us on a daily basis. DUSK is a meditation; a contemplation and a chance to dismiss the noise.

 

DUSK is as simple and wondrous as the sun setting over the sea; it’s so beautifully realised, and exquisitely delivered by Grantham and Zen Zen Zo, and it gives us a sense that there is something more to life, something other-worldly; a precious in-between… If only we can come to a stop and allow ourselves to be immersed in the magic, if only from time to time, if only for a little while.

 

Advertisements