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Another Tarantino Story

Two Reviews: Total Theatre & The Argus
                  5 stars from the Argus     

            TOTAL THEATER

                    review by Bill Parslow


In the first of three dance pieces by the Californian dance company Zion the audience is invited to cluster around a small raised stage. As mine was an English audience of course there was much embarrassed shuffling 'not too close', and the stage manager handling this aspect of our entry has to coax and encourage. As it was, I ended up almost overhanging the platform, and found it a very different experience of dance - being so close that you could reach out and touch, so close that at times you can feel the performer's breath on your face. It made the whole performance intimate and involving; instead of watching an ensemble of movement at a distance, you find yourself concentrating on one dancer at a time, the detail of their pose and twist, the sliding of muscles beneath the skin. it's a very different experience to what you see and feel separated from the performance by the normal distance between seats and stage.


The dancers perform within a small space about three metres square, so the dance itself is coiled and confined. With three performers on stage, much of the dance is an intense spiral of activity around the sole prop, a central chair. At the start of the performance (Kevin Deelen) the male lead sits on the chair, twitching like a methamphetamine addict, as the snake-like movement suppressed in his body is drawn out by (Ashley Kohler-Reynolds & Rina van de Kamp) two woman dancers who joust and spar with him and each other in a close-up whirl of bodies.


A second piece was shown as a film, for which the audience were ushered to the back of the room to watch two of the dancers hanging and stretching from trapezes. And then finally we sat in seats as the dancers used the whole floor at the Lectern. The company used lighting very simply and sparingly, letting the dance speak for itself, although a sleazy cocktail bar vibe was created by drawing back the curtains of the bar at one end of the space, two of the dancers posting languorously on top.


Their music mixes were great - interesting textures and overlays of speech, and a lot of bluesy strong rhythms that suited their dance style very well. There was a nice continuation of the audience contact with a gumshoe woman detective (Rina van de Kamp) in a raincoat dancing round and leaning on the audience. It was a pleasantly diverse show...It was a solid piece of dance theatre, though the last piece, while atmospheric and engaging, did feel a little tame. But I liked the sense of connection with the dancers - they were very present in the audience's consciousness, in a way that a distant stage could not manage. You see the dancer, as well as the dance.  


                                                *****- Five Stars

                                                by Peter Truman


Contemporary dance is always a tough thing to review as much depends on whether the movement makes a connection with you.


As such, it can often be a mixed bag, with one piece feeling drab and derivative before a stirring segment leaves you questioning your very being and wondering how you can feel so many emotions from just seeing someone move about on stage.


Watching the first section of three by the Zion Dance Company, I feared it was to be the former. While the movemet for Divided is competent, if not limited, it speaks tamely and does nothing to exite or engage.


Section two, Episodes, is far more fun, both in terms of the subject matter and how the audience reacted.


But the eponymous Another Tarantino Story is where you see the four-member cast excel. The soundtrack is spot on and the over-dramatised, sleazy seduction of classics such as Resevoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction somehow translates beautifully into the sometimes violent and chaotic and other times slow and sultry interactions.