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Review: THE MATRIX at the Playhouse, QPAC

By Josie Montano & Robert McLachlan

The Chinese Australian Dance Project is now in its fifth year and the latest collaboration titled The Matrix premiered in Brisbane at The Playhouse, QPAC and runs until 16 November, 2019 after having performed in China back in September, 2019. The Matrix is the result of a five week creative development in China and features brand new dance works by two of Australasia’s leading female choreographers - multi award-winning Australian choreographer, Stephanie Lake, and the highly-acclaimed Chinese choreographer, MA Bo.

Expressions Dance Company’s (EDC) intimate ensemble of six members are joined on stage by the 14-strong company of Being Dance/LDTX to perform a thought-provoking, culturally-blended and highly creative production. The show runs for about 80 minutes with a 20 minute interval between the two engaging works. The first piece is titled ‘Auto Cannibal’ and was created by multi award winning Australian choreographer Stephanie Lake. Stephanie’s previous works have toured widely both internationally and within Australia. ‘Auto Cannibal’ is a reference to the inevitable regurgitation or cannibalisation of her own previous work - “This work is an ode to re-using, re-purposing, re-invigorating”. The piece begins with a single dance in a tight spotlight and ends the same way. In between, is a kaleidoscope of movement set to the extraordinary soundtrack by Robin Fox, created specifically for this dance. There are three distinct sections to this work. The first is ‘Water’ and features characteristic movements that mimic the qualities of water. The second was finally named ‘Lego’ as dancers had solos and duets and combined and recombined in different small groups while physically manipulating other dancers. The third ‘Dream’ section combined improvised solos together to form short duos and ended with confetti descending from the ceiling before a final solo dancer was left in a tight spotlight again.

The work created by MA Bo was entitled ‘Encircling Voyage’. MA Bo is one of the most passionate female choreographers in China and was one of the founding members of LDTX in 2005. ‘Encircling Voyage’ was about the cycle of life and featured a depiction of both young and old and the journey between. This work is a visual feast and features ash covered costumes and low benches with a mirror surface which were rearranged in various creative and complex ways. Dancers were writing messages in the air and at two different points, a poem was read from a book. The cries of babies are heard and at the end of the piece, the benches are used to form a sloped table on which a dancer assumed a crucifix position and then is covered in ash. Although at times, the piece performance seemed to stall a little or lose focus, these were very powerful, confronting images and this didn’t detract from the stunning choreography and the remarkable performance by the twenty culturally diverse dancers.

Amy Hollingsworth, EDC’s recently appointed Artistic Director introduced the double bill and invited the audience to attend the upcoming unveiling of the company’s 2020 Season Launch - a free event requiring registration at The collaborative team behind the scenes producing music, lighting, costumes and sound effects for both pieces are to be applauded as they are all parts to the machine that conveyed the end results.

Matrix(noun)– a cultural, social or political environment or context in which something develops.

Don’t miss out on this unique collaboration utilising two companies, two cultures and two creative philosophies, with only four dazzling performances we suggest you grab your tickets ASAP otherwise you can catch it next in Hong Kong!

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All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.


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