“2 One Another”

Dance review: Sydney Dance Company knows spectacle

The Australian dance company puts on a really big show that KNOWS it's a really big show

Wednesday night’s performance of “2 One Another” by the Sydney Dance Company was probably one of the most spectacular live performances to visit Portland this year. I mean spectacular literally, not as an overall superlative, so I don’t mean to say that it’s the best performance that’s come through. It’s a show that is significantly composed of spectacle, and it knows it.

The second of three Australian dance companies visiting Portland during White Bird’s current season, SDC is also the second company to feature lighting design by Benjamin Cisterne. His name keeps showing up on performances with complex and often kinetic set design or propwork that performs with the dancers, rather than simply supporting them or providing a fancy backdrop. His CV includes Lucy Guerin’s show last week with its playful blizzard of white plastic bags, and the remarkable “Connected” by Chunky Move last year. (I’m looking forward to the third company to visit from down-under, BalletLab. As ArtsWatch editor Barry Johnson said, “Those Aussies can dance”.)

Charmene Yap in Sydney Dance Company's '2 One Another'/Wendell Teodoro

Charmene Yap in Sydney Dance Company’s ‘2 One Another’/Wendell Teodoro

The extra player in “2 One Another” is an enormous wall-of-light composed of a grid of LEDs behind a translucent, crumpled fabric screen, nearly the size of the Schnitz’s formidable proscenium. The show is a technically-challenging collaboration between the dancers, Cisterne’s lighting, a soundtrack by composer Nick Wales, and Australian poet Samuel Webster. This dense arrangement is directed by SDC’s relatively new and adventurous choreographer Rafael Bonachela and production designer Tony Assness.

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