Le Dernier Appel/The Last Cry review: United in anger at lack of recognition
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Le Dernier Appel/The Last Cry review: United in anger at lack of recognition

Le Dernier Appel/The Last Cry
Carriageworks, August 15
★★★

When Kanak performers from New Caledonia and dancers from the Broome-based multicultural company Marrugeku get together, they have a common meeting point: recognition of their Indigenous people.

Le Dernier Appel.

Le Dernier Appel.

Photo: Prudence Upton

With New Caledonia's independence referendum coming up in November and heightened discussion of Indigenous cultural recognition in Australia, the idea of a combined dance work was ignited: in French and English, Le Dernier Appel/The Last Cry.

Six dancers express the anger, longing, frustration and despair over years of talk that have yet to get the results the Indigenous people of both countries want.

They perform as individuals, putting their collective dance skills – which are considerable – into an outpouring of twitchy, mostly fast-moving steps, augmented with battling gestures. There are moments when the anguish grabs your heart, but not enough of them.

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The energy and intention are equally powerful yet sadly dissipated by a lack of theatrical shape under co-choreographers Dalisa Pigram and Serge Aime Coulibaly. It too often looks as though the dancers are performing solo, in their own little worlds, with no sense of sharing more than the stage.

Without variety in mood – a few brief hip-hop sequences are a relief – or any sense of ensemble until the end, and that only basic, the piece has little impact in comparison to its important theme.

The dancers are admirable for their ability and commitment: Miranda Wheen, Dalisa Pigram, Yoan Ouchot, Krilin Nguyen, Stanley Nalo and Amrita Hepi. And there is a big team of accomplished creatives whose efforts in music and design are a mix of inspirational and intrusive.

I came to this performance with great anticipation, only to be disappointed. Maybe others will get more out of it.