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Review: Same-Same 2.0 - Online - The Melbourne Fringe Festival

Review By Thomas Gregory

If there is a word to describe No Strings Attached and Maya Dance Theatre’s experimental dance experience, it is “Brave”. While many arts groups have opted to show on-demand performances, this example of live theatre is a breath of fresh air. Over one hour, four artists with disabilities from companies in Adelaide and Singapore give us an intimate performance reflecting their experience of the pandemic.

No Strings Attached is an Adelaide-based community group that works exclusively with artists with disabilities. This not-for-profit group works with its performers to produce works devised for them and by them. Here they partner again with Maya Dance Theatre’s Diverse Abilities Dance Collective. This group of dancers with disabilities learns dance techniques inspired from Bharatanatyam and contemporary dance to produce performances that teach and inspire.

After the success of “Same-Same” in 2020, the two groups have come together again to offer a night of discussion, poetry, and dance. On Friday night we were introduced to four artists who let us into their homes and their lives as they showed us how the experiences we have all had during the pandemic are “Same Same”.

While introducing the performers took a little while, by the time they get to show off their skills we feel like we really know them. We get to experience a range of improved and devised dance pieces, set to spoken words. Each performer is given their chance to shine and offer their specific talents, but they are at their best when working together.

Putting on a show via webcams, and while sitting in rooms around the world, can be a logistical nightmare. Fortunately, “Same-Same 2.0” provides a higher-quality experience than most Zoom-based performances you will find at the festival. No issues with connectivity, artists heard perfectly, and the gallery viewing adds rather than subtracts from the feeling of connection. “Same-Same 2.0” is a show created for online, rather than forced to be online, and it shows.

Audiences are encouraged to lightly engage by offering their own reflections on the performance - reflections the team then use to improvise in storytelling. While we are encouraged to both reflect and then join the group afterward, there is no pressure for the more introverted of us.

After the performance, we are given the chance to get the team even better as a short Q&A session is offered.

It might be unfair to call “Same-Same 2.0” entertainment. If you are hoping to sit back for an hour and escape your day, this probably isn’t the show for you. Instead, this show strips away the fourth wall to inspire us, challenge us, and offer us the confidence to continue facing these extraordinary times. It reminds us we are not alone.

“Same-Same 2.0” runs until the 10th of October. If you miss out, keep an eye out for later performances as part of the New Zealand and Adelaide Fringe Festivals.

Image Supplied


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