Thrilling celebration of Quantum Leap's first two decades
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Thrilling celebration of Quantum Leap's first two decades

Two Zero. Quantum Leap. Choreography: Sara Black, Jodie Farrugia, Steve Gow, Fiona Malone, Ruth Osborne, Daniel Riley, Eliza Sanders. Music: Adam Ventoura, Warwick Lynch. Film: Wildbear Entertainment. Lighting: Mark Dyson. Costumes: Cate Clelland. The Playhouse, Canberra Theatre Centre. Until August 11. canberratheatrecentre.com.au or 6275 2700.

A scene from <i>Where we gathe</i>r in <i>Two Zero</i> by Quantum Leap in 2018.

A scene from Where we gather in Two Zero by Quantum Leap in 2018.Credit:Lorna Sim

Two Zero celebrates 20 years of dance by Quantum Leap, Canberra’s youth dance ensemble and the performing arm of QL2 Dance. The program was set up as a continuous performance in eight sections, three of which were restagings of works from previous seasons with the other five being works newly created for this particular occasion.

In the terms of choreography, the standout work was Daniel Riley’s Where we gather. It was first seen in 2013 and was remounted for this 2018 season by Dean Cross with final rehearsals overseen by Riley. Where we gather explored the idea of young people from Indigenous and non-Indigenous backgrounds working together. It showed Riley’s exceptional use of organic and rhythmic movement patterns, and his remarkable feel for shape, line, and the space of the stage. It had been so well rehearsed and was so beautifully danced that it was hard to accept that the dancers were part of a youth ensemble. The film that preceded it (also from 2013) was a fascinating piece of footage showing, with close-ups and long shots, dancers performing outdoors in a landscape epitomising the “wide brown land” of Australia. Where we gather with its accompanying film opened the show and set the scene for an evening of which QL2 Dance can only be extraordinarily proud.

Scene from <i>This land is calling</i>; in <i>Two Zero</i> by Quantum Leap in 2018. 

Scene from This land is calling; in Two Zero by Quantum Leap in 2018. Credit:Lorna Sim

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Jodie Farrugia’s This land is calling  from 2011 was remounted for this season by Alison Plevey and was perhaps the most moving work on the program. Its focus on aspects of migration to Australia from the arrival of convicts to the present waves of refugee migration was powerfully yet simply presented. Suitcases were used as props by some, others had nothing, a convict was chained around the wrists. Groupings were sometimes confronting, sometimes comforting. It was a thoughtful and forceful piece of choreography enhanced by lighting and projections that opened our eyes to the extent and diversity of migration to this country.

Scene from <i>Bigger</i> in <i>Two Zero<i> by Quantum Leap in 2018. 

Scene from Bigger in Two Zero by Quantum Leap in 2018. Credit:Lorna Sim

I was intrigued by Eliza Sanders’ section called Bigger. It was a new work for 10 female dancers, which examined the impact of shared experiences and their outcomes. Sanders choreographs in a way that seems quite different from her colleagues. Her movement style is mostly without the extreme physicality of other Quantum Leap alumni and yet is fascinating in its fluidity and emphasis of varied groupings of dancers. I was not all that impressed, however, with its opening where all 10 dancers were huddled (or muddled) together each holding some kind of reflecting object. It turned out to be a sort of magnifying glass that indicated (we slowly discovered) the growth of experience. I could have done with less emphasis on the magnifications.

One aspect of the show bothered me. Black and white striped, calf-length pants were a feature of the costume design for most sections and were worn under differently coloured T-shirts. They worked in some but not all sections. In particular I thought they looked ugly underneath the white floating garments used in Bigger.

Nevertheless, Two Zero was a thrill to watch. The achievements of Quantum Leap, its collaborators across art forms, and the remarkable list of alumni who have emerged from it over 20 years, are spectacular. May the work continue for at least another 20 years.