The Little Black Dress Suite

Lynne Lancaster

The latest offering from FORM at Parramatta, choreographed and curated by Martin del Amo.
The Little Black Dress Suite

The latest offering from FORM at Parramatta is The Little Black Dress Suite, choreographed and curated by Martin del Amo. A classic style icon, here the ‘little black dress’ is explored as a series of four solos (some of which I have seen previously) and a finale. The linking theme is that all four performers wear a (different) little black dress, two with high heels, two with black boots.

All four solos are given very strong, powerful performances .They are linked through cross-gender disruption, ‘reimagining’ and juxtaposition in this particular context, examining how what we wear influences the way we move. Another linking feature is that the presence of a dramatic circle (or corridor, or square) of light in all four works.

Del Amo’s distinctive choreographic style is obvious throughout.

The first piece comes straight from the Seymour Centre – I reviewed Miranda Wheen in Quest only late last week, when this solo was included in Vitality. Upon a second viewing of this terrific piece, which I described then as powerful and engrossing  my comments stand. What I will add is that Wheen’s luminous performance was again intense and mesmerizing. In this performance, what I especially noticed was del Amos’s demanding use of the curve and tilt of a very flexible spine. 

Next was a revival of What use is sitting alone in your room, del Amo’s bravura solo, originally premiered in 2010, in which he appears to be trapped in a vertical box of sculptural, rippling , luxuriously controlled  movement with hands like stars. Yes, you can see the obvious Fosse influence.

Next came Kristina Chan (notable for her liquid arms and creamy balances and turns) in Tomorrow Never Comes, originally created for Jane McKernan and presented as part of the Slow Dances For Fast Times season at Carriageworks. With similarities to Quest, the work begins very slowly, with head and neck movements set to lyrical, passionate Mozart, developing to torso tilts and more.

Fourth was Certain Slant of Light, as performed by Sue Healy to marvellous music by Arvo Part. Healy, tall and thin with a very strong face, moves in a puppet-like exploration of space; choreographically, this work again includes the use of bending and stretching.

The finale incorporated all four dancers in an incredibly moving short piece to ABBA’s ‘Like an Angel Passing Through My Room’ which began slowly and quietly with movements of the feet but then expanded and again incorporated the ‘broken wing’ arm poses, for example. The choreography moved frieze-like across the stage (with an atmospheric, very effective use of sidelighting) and included slow-motion like effects and balances in arabesque. Marvellous.

Overall, a most exhilarating and entrancing collection of short dance pieces.          

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

 

The Little Black Dress Suite

Choreographed by Martin del Amo

QUEST

Dancer: Miranda Wheen

Music: Alex Pozniak 

Musicians: Andrew Smith and James Wannan

 

WHAT GOOD IS SITTING ALONE IN YOUR ROOM?

Dancer: Martin Del Amo

Music: Gail Priest

 

TOMORROW NEVER COMES

Dancer: Christina Chan

Music: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

   

CERTAIN SLANT OF LIGHT

Dancer: Sue Healey

Music: Arvo Part

 

HALF AWAKE AND HALF INTRIGUED

Dancers: Christina Chan, Martin del Amo, Sue Healey and Miranda Wheen

Music: ABBA

 

Parramatta Riverside 

15 – 17 August

(Pictured: The Little Black Dress Suite. L-R: Miranda Wheen, Sue Healey, Kristina Chan, Martin del Amo. Photo: Heidrun Lohr.)
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

About the author

Lynne Lancaster is a Sydney based arts writer who has previously worked for Ticketek, Tickemaster and the Sydney Theatre Company. She has an MA in Theatre from UNSW, and when living in the UK completed the dance criticism course at Sadlers Wells, linked in with Chichester University.