Signature 3

Image by Jeff Busby

This week in Melbourne, it’s worth your while to catch the last three shows of Signature 3, a free dance performance in Southbank. Comprising the work of three upcoming dance artists as part of the Master of Dance program at the Victorian College of the Arts, this free event is running nightly for a limited season, 23-25 May.

In the first of three pieces, ‘nothing really happened’, choreographer Nadine Dimitrievich has captured a sense of menace that feels utterly authentic. Three female dancers use both spoken word and dance to narrate their true lived experiences of being harassed in public spaces. While the piece moves from floorwork to more combative movements – reflecting the narrators’ journeys as they become aware of and reject their situations – the tension is maintained through subtle reminders that the performers cannot escape their bodies, nor the situations that others force upon them. ‘nothing really happened’ is an unsettling and all too familiar portrayal of the harassment experienced by women in public.

The second piece, ‘nonsensical’, is a comedic game of cat-and-mouse. The piece starts with complete darkness and the opening track from 2001: A Space Odyssey. A spotlight goes on, and Joel Fenton (who devised and stars in the work) appears wearing an old-fashioned aviator’s cap and not much else. At first, the performer is shy of the spotlight, which follows his every move; later, he scrabbles after it as it roams across the stage. The movements – at times bashful and acutely aware of the spotlight’s gaze, at other times, giving in to animalistic abandon – are delivered with great comedic effect.

Chelsea Byrne’s ‘duet(s)’ – the last performance in the triptych – is a playful work delving into human connection. The seating arrangement for this piece brings the audience onto the stage; stools are arranged in a dotted circle reminiscent of trees in a forest. As the piece starts, two performers sitting at the centre of the circle slowly stand and begin to move around the space. Stretching limbs and conscious footwork lead the dancers in an exploration of the space and the audience that seems, paradoxically, both deliberate and spontaneous. Throughout, the performers aim to connect with each individual audience member through eye contact and warm smiles, rousing sweet moments of shared laughter between the audience and the performers.

To book to see Signature 3 this week (remember magpies, it’s free), visit: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/signatures-three-tickets-31916573330?aff=eac2