LUCY GUERIN INC: The thinking person’s ‘So You Think You Can Dance?’ is a thoughtful exploration of the connection between mind, body and spirit.
Two average guys whose experience with dance is limited to forced interludes with aunties at family functions are asked to perform with a pair of professional dancers. Lucy Guerin’s Untrained explores the beauty and comedy of this ensemble.

Beyond the fun of watching two flailing novices attempt to match skilled professionals, Untrained also offers audiences a thoughtful exploration of the connection between mind, body and spirit. Guerin’s work reveals the inseparable links between our internal and external selves, showing that who we are is revealed not only by what we say and how we say it, but also in how we move.

Untrained shows that our identity defines how we fill the space in which we exist. And while training can refine those movements, it can’t remove those idiosyncrasies – revealed in the subtleties of every hop, skip and thump – that make us who we are.

Guerin uses a number of devices to unpack each performer. Through personal reflections, which include raw family histories, we begin to understand the past that has moulded these men. By sharing their opinions of the project, and each other, we witness the way they relate in a group and compare themselves to their peers. Improvising and choreographing for each other, we really get to know these men as individuals. From imitating rats drowning in molasses to playing Twister, the audience is exposed to four unique individuals.

Meet Antony, succinct in movement and stature, whose seasoned street dance style brings a precision and rhythm to the piece, reflecting his straightforward, hardworking personality.

Then there’s young Benjamin. His graceful fluidity is a true pleasure to watch, and as he speaks, the audience becomes acquainted with a sensitive kid, whose vulnerability brings an ethereal beauty to his performance.

Then we have our untrained heroes. It’s easy to see why Guerin handpicked these guys from 40 men who flocked to the audition. Matt, the writer, who describes his physique as ‘bear-like’, is as nimble as a triceratops. Matt uses big words, makes big thuds, and wins hearts with his self-depreciating humour.

Finally, we meet accounting student Javier, charismatic, relaxed and just a little bit talented. While pirouettes might be far removed from his everyday activities, the ease with which Javier seems to pick up some of the steps (not all, mind you) reflects the ease with which he seems to look at life.

A world-renowned choreographer, Guerin began Untrained as a workshop to explore choreographing for non-dancers before the project evolved into an innovative dance theatre piece. Embarking on an Australian tour, Untrained will take on a new local cast at each new venue. A thinking person’s So You Think You Can Dance?, this production is not to be missed.

Lucy Guerin Inc
Performed by Matt O'Neill & Javier Briceno (untrained)
and Antony Hamilton and Benjamin Hancock (trained)
Cast subject to change
Judith Wright Centre, Brisbane
May 13 – 14

Lismore: May 24
Toowoomba: May 27
Coffs Harbour: May 30
Newcastle: June 1 – 2
Wollongong: June 10 – 11
Bathurst: June 20 – 21
Orange: June 22 – 23
Port Lincoln: July 2
Whyalla: July 5
Port Pirie: July 7
Bendigo: July 16
Swan Hill: July 19
Horsham: July 21
Portland: July 23
Canberra: July 29 – 30

Inga Cahill

Friday 20 May, 2011

About the author

Inga Cahill is a marketing and communications professional based in Brisbane. Inga is passionate about the arts, particularly literature, and has contributed culture and lifestyle features to a variety of traditional and digital media.