Nature?s voice: Grace Hsiao-yin Peng of Dancecology. Photo: Elizabeth Cameron Dalman
Mirror Image Anu Arts Centre Theatre, Anu Campus Friday, April 4, Saturday, April 5 At 8pm, Sunday, April 6 At 3pm Bookings Canberrareporgau, Prices From 15 To 35 Dinner Packages With Teatro Vivaldi 80, Phone 6257 2718 Mirramucom
Three's a crowd they say, but not if dancer, choreographer and artistic director of Mirramu Dance Company, Elizabeth Cameron Dalman, OAM, has anything to do with it.
In her new dance theatre work, Mirror Image, Dalman has brought together a three-way cultural exchange with Dancecology from Taiwan, Jyh Shyong Wong from the Damansara Performing Arts Centre Dance Company in Malaysia, and her own Mirramu Dance Company at home in Bungendore.
Dalman's fascinating new collaborative dance work created in Taiwan and Australia looks at concerns we have as humans.
"We're becoming more and more separate from the environment and nature. Mirror Image explores the relationship between people and the land,'' she says.
"We know we are all a part of the natural world. We are tearing down forests. We're destroying the Great Barrier Reef for our own gains, and the environment doesn't have a human voice. It is kind of passive and at the mercy of our aggression."
The artistic director of Taiwan's Dancecology, Grace Hsiao-yin Peng, shares Dalman's concerns and wants to create dance works that can be a voice for nature.
"The first section is talking about how the nature cycle goes, the dead bring the rebirth, the rocks and sand keep rolling, and roots germinate into the earth," Hsiao-yin Peng says.
"The working process for the beginning just happened so smoothly, since all of us, including three choreographers and international dancers, are inspired and have been influenced by nature for many years.
"Despite cultural difference, the same strong connection with nature makes us feel like we've been dancing for a long time. And the movement and quality of dancer is so remarkable, each of them are characteristic but still feel harmony together.
"To build up the relationship between human and nature is a big challenge, but also an interesting process for us," she says. "How to use human bodies to express the different relationship efficiently but lyrically, how to carry on the natural quality such as animal or plant, but not just to imitate."
Formerly a dancer with Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan, Jyh Shyong Wong is now director of DPAC Dance Company in Kuala Lumpur. He is also concerned about finding ways to express global worries about the natural environment.
"The theme is challenging for me," he says. "It's an enormous subject matter, especially when we're working to narrow it down with a specific angle and finding an artistic expression through the form of dance.
"I'm personally interested in the distance between mankind and our land, reflected from the constant changes of our nature, such as global warming, uncommon natural disasters, unknown phenomenon and so on. As human beings, we are supposed to live closely by the nature, but we're losing our bond with it. The core idea of the choreography is to find the reflection from nature of mankind."
Dalman explains that she chose the title Mirror Image because nature reflects how she is feeling.
"It gives me an insight into deeper aspects of myself. When we see Australia drying up or a lot of species dying out, then the natural world is suffering and I ask why. We know all the scientific proof about what is happening with climate change, so when we look at nature as another part of ourselves it does reflect back to us - we reflect it.''
Dalman's Sydney-based lighting designer, Karen Norris, thinks the work is very beautiful, but it made her feel sad.
"We're using a lot of white silk, and Karen is being very creative in the way she lights it," Dalman says. "The costumes are white or cream, and the boys are wearing grey trousers."
Contrasting images of landscapes and abstract images of the industrial world will be projected onto the white silk created by a visiting videographer from Taiwan.
The soundscape for Mirror Image has been created by Australian composers Riley Lee, Andrew Ford and Gabrielle Roth.
Performers in Mirror Image are Dalman, Jade Dewi Tyas Tunggal, Janine Proost, Ruby Dolman, Jyh Shyong Wong, Hsiao-yin Peng, Yi-ching Chen and Fu-rong Chen.
The guest performers are not new to Canberra and have previously worked with Mirramu Dance Company at Canberra Museum and Gallery, ANCA Gallery, Lanyon, Terroux near Hall, and in the Four Elements Festival as part of the Canberra Centenary.
So the take-home message from Mirror Image is that three has not been a crowd and that globally we all have a part to play.
And as Dalman says: "There has to be a little bit of hope and optimism, as new life can grow and flourish even where an old dead tree lies."