Review | ‘Colossus’ stands tall as a breathtaking feat of dance theatre

Colossus | State Theatre Centre | Until Feb 23 | ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 

Fifty dancers take to the stage in Colossus, a fitting name for a massively ambitious and breathtaking performance envisaged by choreographer Stephanie Lake.

Originally performed in Melbourne, Lake has re-staged the performance with fifty Perth dancers as part of Perth Festival. With just two weeks of rehearsal time, this piece is sure to stand tall as a force to be reckoned with in this year’s program for so beautifully executing such an impressive feat.

Opening on a circle of dancers laying in the stark white space of the Studio Underground, the half-centurion of performers begin. In what Lake describes as an exploration of solidarity, mob behaviour, protest, intimacy and control; the creator’s vision is clear from the outset.

Reacting to one another’s movements, the performance is one of action and reaction. Meticulously choreographed; the dancers move in and out of formation like a beautiful phalanx. Bodies move from working in synchronicity, to railing against one another as the piece jerks the audience from peaceful moments of unity to loud, riotous clashes on the dance floor.

A handful of dancers break out for short solo performances within the piece, but the work’s brilliance definitely comes from its ingenious use of the masses in this relatively small space. The dancers make incredible use of the space, drawing together in intimate moments and sprawling large until the stage felt as if it were overflowing, while effective use of simple lighting paired with jarring, dissonant music made for a compelling visual feast.

Accessible even to those who don’t possess an encyclopedic knowledge of dance history, myself included, Lake’s concept is clear without explanation. A timely piece, the masses of bodies show they are capable of working in unity, but violent clashes explode in contrast to the harmony.

Colossus is a giant in this year’s Perth Festival lineup. Built on a strong foundation by a collective of talented local dancers, this piece is a wonder for dance fans and newcomers alike.

See Colossus as part of Perth Festival until Sunday 23rd February.

Leigh Andrew Hill is an editor at OUTinPerth, with a BA from the University of Western Australia in Media Studies & Art History. Since 2005, Leigh has studied and practiced journalism, film-making, script-writing, language, contemporary performance and visual arts. Leigh is also a freelancer writer, and producer and presenter on RTRFM 92.1.

Image credit:- Jess Wyld

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