-by Kelly Beneforti
(Photo credit: Adam Thomas)
Canberra Museum and Gallery, Gallery 4
Monday-Tuesday March 17-18
Independent dance makers Jake Kuzma and Kathleen Lott have found a platform for their new work Square Nebula at the You Are Here festival. In their first collaboration the duo look to the icons of the square and circle as the basis for the work, which moves through a range of ideas from the geometric to the universal.
Presented at Canberra Museum and Gallery, the performance was viewed through the glass walls of Gallery 4, somewhat removing the audience from a sensorial experience of the moving bodies. This strengthens the sense that Kuzma and Lott are being propelled and sustained by the internal logic of their physicality.
Both performers are seamless dancers and the fluid, spiraling quality of their movement on the floor early in the work disguises its physical complexity and difficulty. The circular form of the movement also links to the first projected image, which resembles the shape of a biological cell.
Later, the vocabulary becomes angular and rhythmic in their bodies, which suggests a transition into the realm of the square. Kuzma and Lott are always satisfyingly detailed and precise, both when moving in and around, affecting each other and when moving in polished unison.
Throughout this first half, the work stays firmly with explicit explorations of the body’s capacity to move with circles, squares and the spectrum between. Still, the work’s opening image continues to resonate in the space: we saw the duo standing beside a projection of a blank square of white light, moving in a repetitive cycle of arm rotations that began in meditative slowness and gradually changed speed and pattern. Existing somewhere in an expressive state between absorption and resolve, Kuzma explains during the Q&A session that followed the show that this material generated a sensation closest to the awe that he felt when he watched a video that emulates the behaviour of the universe’s dark matter.
This same video is projected in the last part of the work while the two bodies stand in front of it in silence and stillness.
The arrival of the performers in final and sustained rest allows the accumulated energy of the work to gradually dissipate. The space is opened up for the audience to witness and experience the awe that Kuzma describes.
The concept behind this work provides the duo with compelling source material and their individual performances are engaging. Yet the work is contained and controlled in its majority. Even when the projection shows triangles being shifted and warped, Kuzma and Lott maintain their honed physicality and the feeling of restraint in their relationship to each other. Having created Square Nebula in only two weeks, a second stage of development would perhaps reveal further possibilities in what is already a strong and embodied work.
A VCA Dance graduate and 2013 ArtStart recipient, Kelly Beneforti performs, teaches and choreographs in diverse contexts across the country. Originally from Darwin, she continues to spend time in urban and remote parts of the Northern Territory, notably with Tracks Dance Company. Kelly also maintains professional relationships in Tasmania and Melbourne. In Canberra, Kelly participated in the Soft Landing program with QL2 and last year performed in No Place, an immersive installation work by independent artist Adelina Larsson. This is Kelly’s first experience in review writing, however, she was involved in You Are Here in 2013 as a performer.