Space Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre, Tue 6 Nov.
An evening in Indonesia, it’s warm, humid, we’re outdoors and there is the sound of crickets and we can see fireflies on the nearby trees. The coppers and bronzes are filmed in green from the oxidation – this is Patina.
A blend, of East and West, of music and sound, of dance and visual art – an exploration of the intersecting points between them all. In terms of the East, it’s Japan and Indonesia that are represented, with a modest sized ‘chamber’ Gamelan orchestra (part of the Flinders Gamelan group) and David Kotlowy’s Shakuhachi (Japanese flute), a dancer from each of Indonesia (Ade Suharto) and Japan (Shin Sakuma), a sketch artist from Japan (Juno Oka) and influences of minimalism on the music, the soundscape and the set. While each of these art forms leans significantly on their traditions, there was also a considerable modern influence.
Patina started with Shakuhachi, the sounds and breathiness conjuring trees and foliage, then a gong to call the Gamelan and then some of the visuals, with blocks as the artist’s canvas being arranged and rearranged several times through the performance. The dancers were trance-like – intensely centred and peacefully passive, fully in the present, using the performance space and elements of their traditional and clearly different styles as well as modern choreography to share the joy of the movement and centring of their bodies.
The visual art was also a component of the dance pieces and towards the culmination of the show, there was also each other (they’d been dancing solo previously). Other important elements are the set, kept simple – it was the music, the dance and the effects and visuals that were the stars. The lighting was superb without being in any way obtrusive. In terms of the visual art, there was a certain amount of theatre in the use of four large ‘blocks’ as the canvas; first for a piece of sketch art, second to be applied as glue for glitter to fall and stick as a modern twist on calligraphy and then for the blocks to be used for Gamelan bells in the final piece.
The Gamelan gongs are still pleasantly ringing inside my head as I write this and I am looking to find that peaceful present moment that I shared with the dancers.