The Coronet Theatre with its cozy and quirky bar and hallways decorated with deconstructed chairs and a selection of art, collectables and handbags, is the perfect setting for Russell Maliphant and Dana Fouras’ Maliphantworks3.
The theatre is small with a sunken stage, closely surrounded by seating that brings the audience and the dancers together for what feels like a personal, private viewing of Maliphant and Fouras’ work.
As the theatre darkened, the first piece of the evening The Space Between emerged with the walls rippling with a monochrome water projection that fell across the two dancers curled tightly, lying on the ground. As the music began, the curled bodies rolled slowly making them look like molecules of mercury or water drops moving across the stage. This slow movement and lighting transcended the piece, creating depths of darkness and moments of light. Together Maliphant and Fouras moved together with grace and softness, with their deep meditative zen like waves of tai chi inspired physical dialogue filled with ebbs and flow that reflected the ripples of water cast across the stage. The delicate balance between lighting and movement was mesmerising, and the more you simply just absorbed the scene, the more effective and complete it became as the two elements merged as one. Maliphant’s use of lighting in his works adds a deeper narrative layer to the personal and intimate dialogue that we see in the shadows of light and dark and the space between the two dancers. The Space Between gave Maliphant and Fouras their own moments on stage, separated by light and sound; and then brought back together in this piece that felt like a living, moving art installation.
Between the two main pieces of the evening were two short videos, each featuring a solo by Maliphant and Fouras. The first saw Fouras in an endless swirl with a floating black fabric that created a soft whirlwind of movement, accompanied by a piano score. The second saw Maliphant suspended by a large rubber-bungy-band with him hovering horizontal, almost lying on the ground, swinging and swirling in another test of the elements as their response to the body and physical movement. These two films gave an insight into the thoughts and explorations of both artists, and it felt like we were invited into their studio to witness an interesting experiment.
The last piece, Duet continued the intimate and deeply personal atmosphere with Maliphant and Fouras coming together melding and folding over each other, moving with intimacy and ease and a knowing of each other’s bodies and movement. Between the lifts and folds, and without the lighting element, there were tender moments of the smallest touch, their eyes cast downwards, this is a dance only for two, for each other and one that the audience feels on the outside but drawn in to share, as we see a rare performance from this artistic partnership that is clearly filled with love, admiration and respect. Maliphant3 is a special evening that left me feeling as though we were invited in, to experience a deeply personal, honest, intimate physical exploration between two renowned dancers and creators.
Reviewed 6 February 2020 at The Coronet Theatre.