The dancers perform to an audio composition, a complex lighting production and a most extraordinary physical prop.

Image from Melbourne Fringe.

Infundibular, inspired by Kurt Vonnegut’s sci-fi novel, Sirens of Titan, is a cross-disciplinary dance-media work featuring dancers, Ashlee Bye and Rachel Heller-Wagner. The dancers perform to an audio composition, a complex lighting production and a most extraordinary physical prop: a huge inflatable pupa-like thing.

Performed in four movements, Infundibular explores themes of freedom and control, the mixed media acting on and with the dancers, imposing control in some circumstances and allowing freedom in others.


There is a sense that the multiple disciplines are battling for supremacy in some parts of the performance, which is (perhaps intentionally) disconcerting. In the first movement, the music is interrupted by a soundscape of voices, gunshots, etc at very high volume so as to completely obliterate the comparatively moderate and subtle movements of the dancers.

However, there are some lovely moments, including when Bye dances amongst circling shapes projected onto the floor. The choreography, while at times interesting, is a little repetitive. The costuming - baggy grey onesies - seems to add an element of baggy greyness to the dancing. The sharpness and fluidity seems lacking so that it’s never completely compelling, possibly due also to an occasional lack of cohesion between the dance and other elements in parts of the performance.

The inflation of the pupa prop in the final movement, constructed of white parachute fabric with plastic windows, is inspired. The lighting on the fully inflated billowing pupa is both beautiful and mesmerising. The dancers are able to move within it and all around it so it has great potential.There appears, however, to be some technical difficulties on this particular night as the pupa stays only semi-inflated for what seems an extended period, significant because the dancers disappear within the white fabric. Again it feels as if the pupa is battling with the dancers for airtime and largely wins.

This sense of the dancers becoming obscured or shouted down by the other media forms is perhaps what weakens the performance for me. It seems to point to a lack of cohesion as the core issue, certainly at significant moments. It feels as if the various components are acting independently at times, which means that the eye or ear looks for what predominates, so that quieter, subtler elements are lost rather than integrated.

The concept, however, is experimental and interesting, hinting at the exciting potentials of performance with new technology in the hands of such creative artists.

Rating; 3 out of 5 stars


Choreography: Rachel Heller-Wagner, Ashlee Bye and Moriya Rosenberg
Interaction Design: Mark Pedersen
Music: Jess Keefe, Camille Robinson
Visual Projection: Travis Cox

Sylvia Staehli Theatre, Dancehouse, North Carlton  
Melbourne Fringe Festival
25 - 28 September

Jennifer Porter

Monday 29 September, 2014

About the author

Jennifer Porter is a Melbourne-based writer and reviewer. She is currently working on her first manuscript, a work of fiction set in the inner suburbs of Melbourne.