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Review: Low Level and Orbital, PACT and Catapult Dance Choreographic Hub

On Friday April 5, PACT presented a double bill from Catapult Dance Choreographic Hub: Low Level by Lacey Bilger, and Orbital by Hugo Poulet.

The nature of both works were starkly different, exploring different themes and placing different demands on their performers. As such, they are reviewed individually below.

However, the one thing that can be said for both is this: there is immense talent emerging from Catapult Dance Choreographic Hub, and the performers should take a lot of confidence in themselves going forward. With the right tutelage, their already deep knowledge of their craft will develop further – and so too their mastery of it.

Low Level: 4.5 stars

Low Level is a solo work by Kalkadoon woman Lacey Bilger. In it she depicts her totem, the goanna, and its travel through the mother country. However, the performance goes beyond this vision and becomes an allegory of the Indigenous struggle itself. It is a profound concept.

Bilger’s physically demanding choreography pays dividends. Her thoughtful, intense movement accurately mirrors that of a goanna, allowing her to embody her totem. This is most evident at the start of her work, when she pensively approaches a tree log positioned centre stage and beautifully weaves around it. Her further interaction with this set piece during the performance is commendable. Whether it is used as a means of hiding from threats, or as a vantage point, she gives it a high status that reinforces the idea of connection to land.

Bilger is a strong performer. Through a combination of physical exertion and compelling internal focus, she tells a fascinating story. Should she overcome a mid-performance lull – where the demands of telling this story, with emotion, while maintaining her intensity appear like too much – then there is no reason why the work’s execution cannot match the power of its concept. And Bilger certainly has the knowledge and skill to do this. It will be exciting to see where she and her work go next.

Orbital: 4 stars

Orbital is a choreographic work by Hugo Poulet. Performed by Emily Eather, Lorcan Power and Poulet, it explores “the rite of rituals that entrance us into heightened states of being, riding the flow of experience”. This abstract concept prefixes a highly abstract performance.

Matching its name, the work is roughly elliptical. Eather, Power and Poulet begin and end the piece together, moving in a manner clearly representing a ritual. During the piece, however, the trio are often separated. Aside from occasional moments of reunion, each performer is left to depict ‘the flow of experience’ alone.

If the performers are “metaphors for life”, as Poulet’s description states, then this is rather gloomy. However, it does allow each individual to showcase their skills. Poulet very much leads the charge here. He uses his background in street dance to give a performance that is versatile, impressively physical, and immensely watchable. Power’s performance is a richly textured one, leaving the audience with much to think about. Eather ‘s movement has a nice flow to it, although it feels like there could be more in her choreography.

Orbital. Photo credit Wendell Teodoro.

Despite this showcase, or arguably because of it, Orbital could afford to be more concise. Long moments of solo performance could be shortened without losing their impact. Strange, loud, and unexpected howls from the dancers could occur less frequently. The beginning and end of the performance could move with faster pace. Effectively, if the work was tighter, it would be just as compelling – if not more so.

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