Review: Brainchild

Words Sam Baran / Images courtesy of the artists

Brainchild consists of two contemporary dance pieces, split into acts and set in the intimate upstairs theatre space of 107 Projects. This isn’t real estate agent code for “cramped” – it’s intimacy of the best kind, where the audience and performers are placed in close proximity but in not too cramped a space that the dancers are unable to jump, swirl and sweep their way through their intricately choreographed moves. There’s even a black-and-white tiled floor design that lends the room a nice, simple aesthetic.

The first act, “Low Expectations”, is a short narrative-driven work created and choreographed by Samantha Crameri-Miller, who also serves as the main performer in the piece. The dancers remain totally silent as Samantha’s poetic, sometimes abstract musings on growing up in rural Grafton and other wandering anecdotes skip lightly across the top, accompanied by Shai Martin’s beautiful piano melodies. It’s almost hypnotic: Samantha’s narration has a wonderful, driving beat flecked with internal rhyme that is reminiscent of high-grade performance poetry. Even when a person dressed in a bear costume rises from behind a table and kidnaps one of the dancers, the spell remains unbroken.

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Shai Martin’s music in “Low Expectations” deserves a special mention. The rich melodies coming from his keyboard lend an emotional charge to every scene, and range from light-hearted almost circus-like variations to small suggestive dawdlings. Unfortunately, it can border on the overzealous in parts, drowning out the narration and interrupting the flow.

The second act, “Principle of Causation”, is different by far. This piece features four dancers jerking and reeling in a dark, moody soundscape overseen by Cameron Lansdown-Goodman, who hunches like a brooding maestro over his keys as he surveys his captive puppets. The performers shudder and spasm, occasionally clutching at themselves in pain and then kicking out in desperation. “Principle of Causation” is a long and tortuous exploration of how our choices affect others, and the discordant strains that drive the performers could not be further from Shai Martin’s bright and cheery melodies of the first act.

Nonetheless, the dancing is incredible. Each of the four gets a chance to display their individual skills, working their way through extended solo sections where they come into momentary contact with the others just to lose them once more. Robert Tinning puts in a particularly powerful and energetic performance as the dancers execute a carefully imperfect synchronisation, ultimately falling out of touch with one another.

Brainchild is an interesting project featuring excellent music and talented dancers. If you enjoy trying new things or just want to see a story told through music and motion, consider heading along to 107 to check it out. //

Brainchild is showing tonight, tomorrow & Sunday (September 23 – 25), 7pm. Tickets are $20/25 and available here or on the door.

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