by Diana Miranda
A beautiful exploration of love and nostalgia, Elsewhere Production’s debut show follows a group of flatmates who shared and cherished many moments together and have since had to part ways. The storytelling weaves together contemporary dance, physical storytelling and poetry. Through lyrical, movement-led sequences, a captivating ensemble of seven captures the audience, creating a tranquil yet powerful atmosphere.
The opening passage sees a young woman looking at a photo album. The cast joins her gradually, handing her Polaroid photos depicting scenes from the past, and removing their shoes after they take the stage. The atmosphere quickly takes on a soothing, dreamlike tone as she takes each picture in. It’s as if she was surrounded by ghosts from the past.
The thirty-minute piece is carefully orchestrated. All seven performers are always onstage, and, while it’s a bit hard to keep up with the group dynamics at times, it’s always absorbing. There’s a sense of flow as we watch contact-led choreography that highlight the ensemble’s strength, finesse and fantastic teamwork.
Occasionally the piece breaks into duet vignettes that explore specific relationships between friends and lovers. The performers interact with grace and exquisite precision, creating captivating shapes with their shared weight and touch, and climbing up and down the huge, red sofa where they cuddle together. They explore a range of motions that go from gentle and refined gestures to more daring and athletic lifts.
The show’s text is mostly in the form of voiceovers that align with interactions between the ensemble members, and the sound design creates a soothing vibe. Towards the end, however, the final segment is spoken aloud with the ensemble providing visual cues and creating a grand display of teamwork. The contrast is poignant and conveys a deep sense of union, affection and care taking.
While the performance is marked by an overall compassionate and calm tone, some performers take on a heavy-handed, angsty approach that is a bit off-key. But the piece still manages to poetically capture the bittersweet emotions of saying goodbye. Ultimately, this show is a reminder to take the time to appreciate the moments we have with those we love, while also understanding that sometimes life requires us to move on. The Art of Saying Goodbye is an emotionally sensitive and visually poetic piece that will stay in the audience’s memory long after the performance has ended.
The Art of Saying Goodbye runs through 4 February.
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