Thursday night saw North Melbourne’s Arts House play host to the world premiere of Nightdance, a contemporary celebration of nightclub culture.
Choreographed by Australian dancer/director Melanie Lane, the show takes influence from her part-time home of Berlin and the club culture that flourishes there. Clubbing in Berlin is less a social activity, and more an institution in a city that has wildly embraced electronic music and culture.
The show itself was largely expressed through three protagonists, but with appearances from numerous others throughout its sixty minute duration. After its slow lead-in, the smooth delicate, sways and sheer flexibility of its performers kept audiences engaged and mesmerised throughout. The troupe of dancers moved independently, yet with a strong sense of unity between one another. The heavy thud of the electronic score and cleverly executed lighting made for an engaging sixty minute performance.
The performance relied heavily on intensity, but allowed for a few brief moments to breath. During these moments of respite, we were introduced to a drag queen, a glitter-tinged tin-man, and most impressively, a scat singer.
The pairing of scat to an EDM score was one of the less obvious arrangements to the show, with the throb of the beat and scat vocals being in competition with each other. The scat seemed to come out on top, but working against each other seemed to detract from, rather than bolster one another.
The lighting was well-executed, and for the most part managed to avoid being an ode to strobe. The mix of fast-paced upper body movement on stationary figures accompanied by spontaneous blinks of darkness was particularly satisfying to watch. The sustained movement induced sweat-soaked memories of exasperated evenings spent within a smoky venue’s four walls. Clubbing is often associated with excess, and watching the male-performer push his body to such lengths did a good job at representing this.
The physical performance explored some key aspects of club culture including excess, sexuality, and attraction, but at times was a little bit confusing. Nevertheless, the event managed to engage from start to finish and adds another successful show to Melanie Lane’s expanding body of work.