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Adelaide Festival

Review: Monumental

Adelaide Festival

An urbanity of insanity is explored in this intense, very loud and exciting performance by dance company Holy Body Tattoo and post-rock band Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Reviewer Greg Elliott surrendered to the experience.

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A dark theatre. Black. A violin hums. Bass guitar vibrates. Crescendo. Dancers in black and white on boxes. Perched. Distorted. Frozen. Apart. Isolated. Lonely. One moves.  Explores herself.  Extends herself. Searches. Itches.  Scratches.  Reaches to others. So close.  So far apart.

Godspeed you! Black Emperor is loud. Very loud. Pulsating through you, shaking you, waking you.

Words typed neatly in white against black have to be read. Cryptic puzzles of life.  Philosophical snippets of being. Disconnected dancers with deep desires to touch. Another.  Connecting.

Parent lights underneath. Snippets of flesh. Hair flicks.  Annoying frustrating. Being. Sensing. Alone. Trapped within a body. Inside clothing.  In modern clothes. Close but separate.

Wind turbines visible above. Dancers on boxes.  Frenetic. Synchronised. Precise.  Beautiful. Disciplined. Faces stare. Arms and eyes look out. Suddenly wrapped. Tight.  Jenny Holzer  writes. We read. We wonder. We speed as gods. The Black Emperor is with us. Ever with us.

A trio of drumming. Modern percussion but bigger than a suburb of Taikos. Much bigger.

Still dancers work within limited space.  One falls. Slips.  Falls again. Effortlessly. Smoothly. Another. Tragedy. Accident? Deliberate.

Always in their own worlds. Doing something different. No touching. How long can we remain aloof. Words, images, music, bodies writhing. Unrelenting pain. Audacious and beautiful. Why?

They dance. Athletes. Aesthetes. Solo. In unison. Modern life. Alone. We are – have always been – will be – alone.  Together. Connecting with another. The importance of touching. The need to feel. One block away.

Our mouths let the dryness outside touch the moisture inside. Time lapse headlights shine. It can be beautiful. Civil war inside our eyelids. How? The music is deafening. Vital.

Silence. Dancers descend, explore space outside their closed apartments. One woman goes mad with frenetic energetic electric hitting slapping tugging hair and flesh, self and others. Until. One woman holds her in her arms. Warmth from another. Silence momentary.

The beat goes on. The driving force goes on. The big sound pulses, a violin sustains momentum. Dancers run and leap. They shout at each other at themselves at us. We love and hate. We are walking contradictions. We are confused individuals wanting what we don’t know what we want. Still we go on.

Ideas. Words. Thoughts. We sit and they run. They look at us. Smiles. Do we smile? What are the rules? How do they keep going? Fit. Energy plus more.

A rock band sometimes there sometimes not always present. A haze. Shafts of light. Torches search the ceiling looking for others.

A man talks. Is it the end of the world? How do we survive in an urbanity of insanity that keeps us from each other. The words make us wonder. The dancers bring us closer. They have partners that they love they grab lift hold throw away and do it again and again. Do we learn?

In a row they sit. Similar but different. So close. If only…

The Holy Body Tattoo is eight dancers on stage. Godspeed You! Black Emperor is a rock band of electric guitars, violin, drums inside your head and through your being.

Monumental is indelibly etched. Unique. Unforgettable. Incredible. An intense hour and 15. Assaulting the senses inspiring living. A paradox. Showing a disconnect while we connect. We clap and call out while wanting to touch loved ones and whisper we are alive.

Monumental is presented by Canadian contemporary dance company The Holy Body Tattoo with live music by Montreal group Godspeed You! Black Emperor, projected backdrops featuring vision by LA cinematographer William Morrison and “language-based artwork” by conceptual artist Jenny Holzer. The final performance is at the Festival Theatre tonight (March 5).

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