Reckless Valour was first staged by QL2 Dance in Canberra in 2005 to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the Anzac landings at Gallipoli and the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II. Now it has been restaged and reimagined for 2015, the centenary year of the Anzac landings. It includes segments from the original choreographers from 2005 plus the addition of an extra section choreographed by James Batchelor. Batchelor was a young dancer in the 2005 performances.
Although reimagined, Reckless Valour remains a tribute to the men and women who have served in war zones, and who have suffered as a result of that service, and throughout the performance there are many reasons to reflect on the effects of war. In particular there is one moving moment when a long, single file of dancers slowly exits the stage at the end of Fiona Malone's segment Roll of Honour. In absolute silence and semi-darkness, the dancers make their exit. Each one holds a red poppy which, as they near the wings, they turn towards the audience as a mark of respect to those who fell during combat. Then, Reckless Valour is enhanced by some powerful film footage, the work of media production company Wildbear Entertainment. It has been largely shot in and around the Australian War Memorial and often has the figures of men and women in uniform superimposed on it. They look so young and fearless. The message is clear.
Choreographically, however, the program is uneven. Not all the choreographers are equally skilled in dealing with the varied standards and experiences of the QL2 dancers, whose ages range from 14 to 22. Some sections look a little too static, others rely on the dancers having to react to the drama of a situation, which is a little beyond their acting abilities.
Jodie Farrugia's segment Pool of Reflection stood out for its fluidity, some strong moments of unison work, and some exceptionally acrobatic moves. Nicholas Ng's Asian-inspired score for this segment was also a highlight and Farrugia skilfully used its often soft and singing sounds.
James Batchelor once again showed himself as a choreographer with an exciting future. Entitled A Road to Nowhere, his segment examined the idea of borderlines, how they change, and the consequent effects on people who live behind them. Batchelor is very focused in his approach so that every move, every stage property (in this case a changing line of shoes), and every sound of Morgan Hickinbotham's relentless, driving soundscape contributes to the unfolding of his concept. He is also particularly skilled at giving his dancers moves that they are capable of performing well without those moves looking overly repetitive or simplistic.
Like all QL2 shows I have seen, Reckless Valour is distinguished by strong production values and in this case the lighting design by Toby Kynett added much atmosphere to the evening. The dancers all performed with their usual passion and commitment.