Dance review: Exposed, Arts House, FRAME festival

Exposed invites audiences to reflect on the importance of community through a thoughtful and magical production.

Exposed, directed by Restless Dance Theatre’s Michelle Ryan, was a gentle and thoughtful piece that explored how community and relationships prop us up when we feel defeated, attacked or generally melancholic. It’s a timely topic given the global sense of unease.

The choreography, while light on dance sequences, masterfully distilled these concepts and emotions into physical form. The ensemble cast drew us further into the production’s exploration with their expressive physicality. For example, cast member Charlie Wilkins’ attempt to unbutton a shirt transformed in but a few movements from mundane activity to a moment of frustration, anguish and loss of resilience. As the ensemble switched back and forth between caring and being cared for, the tenderness and commitment between them was always clear, highlighting the strength found in community. 

There were plenty of light-hearted moments in Exposed too, such as a playful partner dance that elicited giggles from the audience and a group dance sequence reminiscent of famous ‘Rose Adagio’ from Sleeping Beauty

Though the ensemble were splendid, the star of the show was undoubtedly Geoff Cobham and his entrancing lighting and set design. Cobham created theatre magic throughout the entire production with one piece of fabric and strategically placed lights. 

The fabric constantly transformed the stage’s entire shape and atmosphere. It rustled like trees through the wind in some moments, like waves hitting the shore in others. Its movement and presence evoked many images through the show: a summer’s day, an oppressive force and an empowering chrysalis to name a few.

Further visual intrigue was added by the way the light and shadows bounced off the dancers throughout the performance. Cobham’s work captured a sense of wonder only possible in the realm of live performance. 

Hilary Kleinig and Emily Tulloch’s score was well chosen by Ryan, providing additional gravitas and levity where required.

Read: Book review: Dark Mode, Ashley Kalagian Blunt

All in all, Exposed was a well rounded production that opened discussion on the power of community at a time audiences are desperately searching for it. 

Arts House, Melbourne
Restless Dance Theatre
Director: Michelle Ryan
Assistant Director: Larissa McGowan
Musical Score: Hilary Kleinig/Emily Tulloch
Lighting and Set Design: Geoff Cobham
Costume Designer: Renate Henschke
Creative Producer: Roz Hervey
Dancers: Jianna Georgiou, Alexis Luke, Madalene Macera, Michael Noble, Darcy Carpenter, Charlie Wilkins, Bhodi Hudson 

Exposed was performed 23-25 March 2023 as part of FRAME dance festival.

Jenna Schroder is an emerging arts critic, with a background in dance and voice, and an organiser at the Media, Entertainment, Arts Alliance. Outside of her union activism, Jenna can be found performing at The Improv Conspiracy, around the Melbourne comedy scene and producing independent work across multiple platforms. Twitter: @jennaschroder00