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Architecture in Motion

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Agility, speed, and grace are all qualities required of the performers of Diavolo Dance Theatre—all of that, plus an acrobatic fearlessness for hurling oneself on and off giant moving structures. This is ‘architecture in motion,’ a blend of urban dance, stunt gymnastics and interactive set design that is Diavolo’s speciality and the signature of its artistic director, Jacques Heim.

Currently showing at Arts Centre Melbourne are two of the company’s signature works in a sample-sized double-bill. In the first piece, Transit Space, the Los Angeles-based company draws on the ‘street’ artforms and public architecture of its hometown. Influenced by Stacy Peralta’s 2001 documentary Dogtown and Z-Boys about the rise of skateboarding culture, the dancers mobilise ramps to enact a kinetic skate park, on which they slide, vault, and dangle precariously.

There are also elements of parkour and breakdancing in the choreography and, although it shows off the dancers’ athleticism, it never elevates to a level of poetry or emotional complexity. Perhaps to compensate, the piece is scored by a slightly cheesy spoken-word lament for introspection and meaningful connection in the modern world.

More subtle and more successful is the second piece, Trajectoire, which challenges the dancers with a huge, rocking ark centre-stage. Heim’s past experience as a choreographer for Cirque du Soleil is evident, as he sends his performers effortlessly leaping and sliding from one side to another of this impressive structure. As they do so, the dancers cultivate a hypnotic swinging rhythm, and the piece builds to breathtaking heights, rewarded warmly by the audience’s gasps and applause.

Architecture in Motion by Diavolo Dance Theatre is playing at Arts Centre Melbourne until 9 February.
For more information and tickets (Under 30s Discounts available) visit artscentremelbourne.com.au


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