Review of Quantum Leap's Boundless

Mixing youthful dancers with experienced hands can have its drawbacks. By Michelle Porter.


Boundless, Quantum Leap, Canberra Playhouse, 30 July-2 August

Reviewer: Michelle Potter

Boundless is a  triple bill program from Quantum Leap, Canberra’s youth dance ensemble and it is a little different from its previous offerings. For a start, one work, Samsara choreographed by Dean Cross, uses not just the young dancers of Quantum Leap, but eight mature-age performers from Canberra Dance Theatre’s GOLD performing group as well. Secondly, James Batchelor’s Cinders is the most challenging work I have seen from Quantum Leap.

The evening opened with The Bigger Picture choreographed by Danielle Micich. This work showed Quantum Leap in all its youthfulness. There was a lot of energetic dancing, some lovely solos and some charming moments towards the end, which projected humour, joy and pleasure at being on stage. It was closest to what audiences have come to expect from Quantum Leap, largely because  the work was based on the familiar format of asking young people questions about their attitudes to life and building the work around their answers. The background projections accompanying The Bigger Picture were especially attractive - a tapestry of young faces, sometimes shown as still portraits, at other times as movement-filled images.

Cinders was the middle work. It was not an easy work to follow. Its black and white geometric designs and other shapes, projected onto a backcloth/screen, gave the feeling of being in outer space, or in a very unusual place. In addition, Batchelor’s choreography was often minimal, that is not filled with decorative movement or having any extraneous emotional input from the dancers. It often consisted of jolting, jerky movements and always demanded very precise attention to detail. The choreography was sophisticated and demanding, with the dancers responding brilliantly. They were mesmerising in a fast sequence involving a transfer of weight from leg to leg, accompanied by varied arm and upper body movements.

The evening closed with Samsara, which Cross says reflects the Buddhist concept of life flowing in an ongoing loop, from birth to death and then on to rebirth. The flow of life was clear in the choreography, which often had the performers crossing the stage in continuous patterns. There were moments too when Cross, to his credit, used a combination of older and young dancers to enhance the idea.

Despite Cross’ valiant efforts, however, the inclusion of GOLD performers in the show was not a good idea. After the demands of Cinders, Samsara returned the evening to being community dance.

Canberra badly needs some local dance that is professional in outlook, choreography and performance and, while I have a lot of respect for what the GOLD group represents, I think it needs to be seen off stage in community environments. Combining young hopefuls with what is clearly a community group, and putting them onstage together, does little to advance the cause of adding some professional dance of local origin to the Canberra dance scene.