The DNA of dance

In London late last month, I watched 39 solos performed by outstanding students at the Royal Ballet School in London.

There is nothing more exposing than a solo performance for students, or professionals and so, as each dancer entered the stage, I felt for them, for their vulnerability, even though their audience (family and friends) was overwhelmingly supportive.

The solo performance is part of a student’s training, but for professional dancers, it’s relatively uncommon experience when it represents the entire work, at least compared with the days when Pavlova danced the Dying Swan over and over almost to her dying day, and when Isadora Duncan, Martha Graham, Merce Cunningham, and Mary Wigman made a special art form of the solo piece.

Certainly, Sylvie Guillem, Akram Khan and Russell Maliphant keep the art form alive, and in Australia, we’ve recently seen solo work by Gideon Obarzanek and Paul White, dancing Meryl Tankard’s The Oracle.

Now, the West Australian Ballet dancer, Daryl Brandwood is about to take the solo challenge with a new work made for him by Barry Moreland, former artistic Director of West Australian Ballet (from 1983 -1997).

Called, Helix, it will open on June 8 for a short season at the Heath Ledger Theatre, State Theatre Centre of Western Australia.

Helix, combining original choreography, cinematography and medical imaging technology, is named after the double helix structure of our DNA.

With eight choreographic movements – Helix, Corpus, Bones, Oxygen, Androgyny, Vena Cava, Bloodlines, and Hypnos – it comprises 15 solo sequences covering a range of dance styles from classical to contemporary and tap, danced to music by Max Richter, Philip Glass, tango maestro Lisandro Adrover and J. S. Bach.

Co collaborator with Moreland and Brandwood is the filmmaker, Ian Batt, whose filmscape is the result of a three-week shoot in various locations around Perth, including an under water sequence in a giant tank.

Helix had its beginnings two years ago when Moreland had a health scare at Perth airport and was rushed to a hospital where he was wired up to machines in the emergency unit. The sudden vulnerability had an unexpected creative outcome, giving Moreland a new perspective on the interior life of his body.

Moreland found some of his MRI scans, beautiful, like stained glass windows, reminiscent of the beautiful windows he had seen recently in France.

HELIX – Act 2 from HELIX on Vimeo.