DOLPHIN THEATRE: Danielle Micich's Shiver mixes contemporary dance and theatre in a show that deserves a much larger audience, and certainly a longer season.
Contemporary dance theatre is what lured me to Shiver
, which was showing in Perth for a short season of three nights. Not being much of an aficionado of contemporary dance generally, I liked the idea of dance being incorporated into a palate of performance, including talking and story.
Danielle Micich is an award-winning choreographer well known in Western Australian contemporary dance circles through STRUT Dance Inc, Buzz Dance Theatre, PIAF and STEPS Youth Dance Company. Her direction of this piece – first conceived of five years ago, and several works in development later with the mentoring assistance of Kate Champion – certainly doesn’t disappoint. It featured evocatively original dance moves that reflect a contemporary understanding of the world and the absolutely bang-on-the-floor physicality of our bodies in it.
The four dancers Micich selected are all excellent. They are dynamic, interesting to watch and appear almost as if in rehearsal (in a good way) – they are so relaxed, and often smile or even exchange a short laugh with each other. Gerard Van Dyck, Leanne Mason, Jacqui Claus and Lewis Kilpatrick make this dance work highly accessible, and interact with each other in a way that doesn’t seem choreographed at all. Their naturalistic clothes only emphasise this sense that they have just walked off the street and come in to play.
Kingsley Reeve’s masterful approach to the sound riding through the space is a fifth element, as visceral as some of the movements. I particularly enjoyed one switch from a more techno-based beat to upbeat Spanish-style jivey music.
The set design is minimal, with a grey floor surrounded by streaks of fluorescent lights at floor level, but dominated by two conveyor belt systems. The larger one to the left is used like a child’s playground equipment with dancers parading down it, swinging off it, sleeping on it, stripping on it, cavorting under it and – in one memorable ‘running’ section of the show – peddling in the air from the edge of it. These conveyor belts provide a wonderful expression of the ability of the (dancing) body to elevate us into different meanings of our lives, away from their repetitive functionality.
Micich says ‘Shiver was born of the need to comprehend our own existence, our capacity to endure between the polars of love and loss, to tremble before the fragility of our own mortality’ but this doesn’t indicate the amount of genuine physical comedy in this work, which was certainly appreciated by the audience. This is when the particular Australian-ness of movement and speech idioms seemed to be captured so well, but with a light touch, not over-enunciated.
‘Have you experienced the loss of a child?’ was a section that did capture this more sombre intention, again with an incredibly well-acted delivery of matter of fact lines by Leanne Mason. The dance woven around this narrative touched me, particularly when Gerard Van Dyck directed her to look, no, not to turn, look again at the boy in her arms – the faceless boy.
There was so many wonderful moments of fused soundscape, visual 3D spatiality and bodies performing in the space that I can’t enumerate them all, but would like to highlight both the ‘sex’ dances as particularly compelling, and also the older man slowly discovering a decrepit body – and amazing me with some unusual contemporary dance moves (and leading you down the path a bit)… It’s unusual, in these ‘flirting’ moves, to see the men more unclothed than the women, and the frank easiness and enjoyment of an older couple with their sexuality, in a portrayal that doesn’t rely on stereotypes or limits. Shiver provides some of the most erotic understanding of people and sexuality I have seen for a long time.
Everyone should have a chance to see Shiver in action, an Australian original that deserves a much larger audience, and certainly a longer season.
Rating: 4.5 stars
Performing Lines WA presents
Director: Danielle Micich
Sound Design: Kingsley Reeve
Lighting Design: Joseph Mercurio
Dramaturg: Humphrey Bower
Performed by Gerard Van Dyck, Leanne Mason, Jacqui Claus and Lewis Kilpatrick
The Dolphin Theatre, University of Western Australia
First published on
What the stars mean?
- Five stars: Exceptional, unforgettable, a must see
- Four and a half stars: Excellent, definitely worth seeing
- Four stars: Accomplished and engrossing but not the best of its kind
- Three and a half stars: Good, clever, well made, but not brilliant
- Three stars: Solid, enjoyable, but unremarkable or flawed
- Two and half stars: Neither good nor bad, just adequate
- Two stars: Not without its moments, but ultimately unsuccessful
- One star: Awful, to be avoided
- Zero stars: Genuinely dreadful, bad on every level