Many performances leave me overwhelmed with a certain emotion or feeling, whilst others drain my emotion leaving me surrounded in a world of thought. ‘OPUS’ stimulated both, intoxicating me with its unearthly-concepts and ideas whilst personally pressing me to feel triggers of suspense, humour, wonder and inspiration all at the once. The dancers equally gave an incredible performance and pushed each idea to its fullness. I did not “watch” the show as such, but felt that I “became” the show as the level of interaction was more of a conversation-base with movements and communication being passed back and forth between dancer and audience member.
My worry of a late arrival quickly diminished as I joined the audience members who were eagerly awaiting entrance to Erskineville PACT centre last night. In place of the typical designated seating where I’d usually settle to begin forming preconceived ideas on an evenings show, being queued in the foyer kept us all on our toes (literally!)
Moving into the room, my eyes jumped between outlines of each of the dancers who were spatially positioned at various points across the floor. It caused me to feel that I was tiptoe-intruding upon their worlds and as Charlotte began to articulate her movements upon an elevated level, she immediately drew her audience forward. She was already inviting us to enter into a conversation where she did most of the talking. A combination of the costuming, lighting, music and space, it was from this get-go that I knew I’d be drawn into this unseen world quite like Alice’s journey diving down the rabbit hole.
Thankfully, Angela was there to direct us around the space encouraging us to stand and sit in indicated formations and sections that ensured we had the best view of the dancers whilst the more allowing each of us to be as much a part of the performance as anyone else.
There were various highlights for me but one noteworthy moment came during the first half of the performance. As an audience we were directed to encircle Sophie as though caging her in whilst she performed a series of continuous flow and pauses. Her performance quality and movement was so immense that there was clearly no sign she was feeling claustrophobic in any way. Her eyes lead her movements as she ‘questioned’, ‘threatened’,’ begged’, and ‘provoked’ responses from us onlookers. I heavily enjoyed this moment, taking the chance to observe as some people shifted their eyes not daring to enter into conversation with her, whilst others eagerly responded through silence.
I found the B.E.A.U.T.Y scene rather amusing (especially incorporating handbags and makeup products adding to its point). It was comedic and charming in the sense that at this point of the show, there wasn’t a single audience member that could not relate to the ongoing debate of “beauty” and the constant ringing of cell-phones in today’s society. These dancers pushed their performance in making a mockery of the ideas surrounding this term and even allowed audience members at random to physically contribute by painting their faces with various makeup applications we were handed. I must say, I squirmed watching the lady who’d knelt beside me use a cherry-red lipstick to paint outside the lip lines of one particular performer.
The hour flew by and I was certainly not ready for it to end, and yet the way that it did seemed most-appropriate. I felt such apprehension in the room as two dancers entered with a long twine of fairy lights attached to each of their heads. As one entered leading the other who was crawling behind, an idea of “mastery” came to mind. This thought soon vanished as the roles became equal with this partnership synchronising their movements in circular patterns with head-swings and spins… lots of spins! The music was so mesmerising as a backdrop to this harmonious dance to the point that it has taken my “star-gazing” to a completely new level.
As the soundtrack and dancers gradually slowed as though pre-warning its conclusion, I was by no means ready to exit this world and yet as the main lights flickered on- I knew it was over. I felt eager to discuss which parts of this OPUS world other audience members had most connected to. Later that evening, my friends and I found ourselves still buzzing from the performance as we were seated at a table awaiting our drinks. As I looked up and noticed a display of fairy lights, for a split second I was almost certain that I was being teleported back into this world of OPUS…