Black Match Productions, a brand new independent dance company born from connections built in the Sydney University Movement and Dance Society (MADSOC), debuted its first piece Embers. Looking to explore the human need for connection through physical representations of relationships and isolations, this piece stands as a solid entrance into the independent scene.
Featuring twelve dancers, including the two directors Bec Clare and Georgia Britt, Embers opens with a disconnected group dance. The movement is broken into pieces and passed around the dancers in groups of three with additional mirroring and pairing to split them into various configurations. Each following dance is similarly separated from what came before and what comes after as the dancers move onto and off the stage with each scene.
In this way, Embers works more as a collection of relationships, rather than a collective narrative. Each scene seems to explore a type of relationship or connection between the dancers, whether or not that’s always completely clear to the audience. Standout performances included an angry push-pull relationship between Britt and Sarah King as well as a similarly conflicting three-way between Clare, King, and Emily Mee. The dances were compact and largely contained within their moments of movement, which tonally is more disconnected and accumulative than an overarching exploration of human connection.
As an ensemble, there weren’t major discrepancies in skill or execution and the co-directors did well to match strengths and weaknesses in their dancers for maximum ease. This was an easy production to watch with original choreography and clever repetitions of key techniques such as segmented movements and use of natural sound. In such an intimate space, natural sound carries and increases the impact of simple movements.
The production design by Michael Goodyear, made good use of natural-esque aesthetics. Creating a cacoon within the PACT black box with hessian was cozy, if a bit warm, and the use of petal shaped panels incorporated elements of the natural while contrasting more surreal floating panels and a saturated lighting design. The lighting design in particular added to the disconnection of this production. Swerving between harshly different lighting states that appeared to have no interaction with the dancers or their narratives was odd and distracting. Even the opening scenes, where the audience enters through swathes of natural fibres to see dancers dressed in warm autumnal tones but lit with cold blue, clashed and meant the design caused more confusion for the narrative than illumination.
Black Match Productions have just landed on the independent scene and they have demonstrated they are capable of putting together a solid performance. With more practise and clarity, this may be a dance company to watch out for.
Embers is running at PACT from October 18th – 20th.