Melanie Lane: NIGHTDANCE
Nightdance, a new work that investigates the physical experience of the nightclub, and its seductive promise of transformation, primal temptation and sublime release.
Deftly transgressing the realms of traditional dance forms, Lane and her co-performers slide between exotic dance, techno, burlesque and pop as they navigate sound, space and light, and the social, sensual and cerebral offerings-up for consumption after dark. As performers oscillate between entertainer and punter, Lane shines a spotlight on the economy of entertainment, the labour and currency of the body, and our complicity as audiences, voyeurs and consumers.
A collaboration with UK music producer Clark and light designer Ben Bosco Shaw.
Melanie Lane: NIGHTDANCE
Arts House Melbourne
24 August – 27 August 2017
Choreography/Direction: Melanie Lane
Co-creation/performance: Lilian Steiner, Gregory Lorenzutti, Melanie Lane, Christopher Clark, Benjamin Hancock
Guest artists/performance: Benjamin Hancock, Sidney Saayman, Ryan Ritchie
Guest artists/advisors: Lily Paskas, Holly Durant, Lauren Runge
Sound design and composition: Chris Clark
Light design: Ben 'Bosco' Shaw
Producer: Freya Waterson
Producer | Culturelab: Jessica Morris Payne
Images: Bryony Jackson
"And lo! as incandescent guest artist Benjamin Hancock takes to the stage, I am magnetised. A glittered figure completely encased from heeled foot to dunce’s conical crown. With two long fingers upon each hand, a fantastical, nocturnal Aye-aye (Daubentonia madagascariensis) if ever there was. An omen of ill luck in Madagascar, perhaps, at Arts House, something else!
The Aye-aye in the forest uses its long middle finger to tap upon trees and listen for wood-boring insect larvae, and in Hancock’s incarnation, the Aye-aye is larger than life, sublime, and hybrid. One part Aye-aye to one part headless Blemmyae with a face in their torso and a mouth like a horseshoe from a medieval manuscript, those headless creatures proving night is myth, and myth is night."
Nightdance Melanie Lane
"Melanie Lane’s Nightdance is even more fearless in its personal vision. There was a moment late in the piece when I was forced to put my note-taking aside and just accept that I had no frame of reference for what I was seeing. You’ll know it if you were there. It’s a work that shouldn’t be spoiled, but that doesn’t prevent discussion — there are no twists, as such, but it’s an hour of frequent surprises.
An extended, hypnotic opening sequence sees three dancers undulating in an ochre haze, the animal eroticism to their movements balanced by the technical precision with which they’re performed. The trio almost never uncouple their gaze from the audience, lending a presentational aspect that’s part sex show and part mating display, and the libidinally-charged set-piece establishes the tone for what will follow.
Nightdance isn’t about sex, exactly, but its evocation of nocturnal life — from the bed to the dancefloor — necessarily yokes sexuality to its performance. To a driving beat a succession of memorable figures emerges on stage, transforming the space as they do so: now a drag club, now a fetish den, now a rave. There’s a polymorphous perversity to it, not merely in the free-floating desire that hovers over everything but in the instability of the visual image itself. At one point a figure is so bedecked with sequins that they almost appear to be composed of digital pixels, while another sequence features a dancer I didn’t even realise was there for a long time.
I’m still trying to make more sense of the finished work, but this is Lane’s triumph — Nightdance is filled with secret dramas and impenetrable mysteries the way that any dancefloor is, and it’s stitched together with the tight but invisible logic of a dream. And like a dream, when you’re in it you don’t question why this carefully but inexplicably costumed character appears at one point, because there’s an emotional sense to it that’s beyond waking thought. That Melanie Lane successfully puts her audience in that state is a rare triumph, and one that won’t be forgotten."
Melanie Lane Nightdance