Set against the backdrop of Arnhem Land’s northern flood plains, Goose Lagoon explores the story of the magpie geese of the top end; the furl of wings in the first light of the wet season, the frenetic struggle against the hunter’s gun, the tender love of delicate young goslings.
The Gary Lang NT Dance Company is a Territory based contemporary dance company. The company’s vision is to build an indigenous owned and sustainable troop, which fosters indigenous and non indigenous dancers and brings the experience of dance to the top end. The Darwin Festival 2010 was therefore the perfect forum to showcase the world premiere of Goose Lagoon.
Goose Lagoon’s original score by Panos Couros incorporated the traditional song lines of the Djapu clan with contemporary compositions, to create an audio feast. The score was breathtaking. Ursula Yovich’s ethereal wailing in the closing scene was haunting and humbling!
Goose Lagoon juxtaposed dance and puppetry in order to create a visual experience that spanned artistic genres. The puppetry was directed by Erth Visual and Physical Theatre. The company interspersed human movement and role of the dancers with the puppets to enhance the story told. Puppets of magpie geese in their full form were then broken down to the individual elements of the geese, such as the wings or the neck and head, to create visually powerful moments. However, the black robes of the puppeteers detracted from some scenes rather than creating the invisibility and anonymity sought , particularly given that the lighting back drop to most scenes were the brilliant reds, oranges and greens of the Territory wet season. Perhaps the puppeteers would have been better to have been incorporated into the body of the piece rather than clumsily hidden in the robes.
The choreography was a meeting of traditional dance and culture with contemporary based movement specialising in incredible moments of partner work and full body lifts. Tara Robertson’s opening scene where she transitioned from human to goose after hearing traditional voices was chilling in its choreography and execution. The dancers channelled the mannerisms and characteristics of the geese in a conceptually realistic and often beautiful manner. Goose Lagoon is a story resonate of Swan Lake. The company paid chorographical homage to Swan Lake with a snippet of the original “dance of the signet”.
The company’s ethos is to support Territory dancers of broad experience and provide a training base, and that was sometimes reflected in moments when the dancing was not as tight or as synchronised as it could have been. With some further development and technical training the piece could transition from a local work to something, which can travel with acclaim.
Finally, and perhaps most enjoyable, was the enthusiasm with which the Darwin community supports the home grown company. Goose LagoonGoose Lagoon is a piece that the Gary Lang NT Dance Company can be proud.
Gary Lang NT Dance Company
The Playhouse, Darwin Entertainment Centre.
3 – 15 August 2010
Choreographed by Gary Lang.
The Darwin Festival 2010 runs from 12-29 August, 2010
For more information and to book tickets visit the Darwin Festival website.