Rachel Arianne Ogle’s precipice was truly something else. A culmination of light, sound and movement to create a living piece of artwork that enthralled the audience on The State Theatre Centre’s studio underground stage. After premiering in August 2014, precipice has been reignited and explored again, with the show returning for a second season, along with its sequel, i have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night. On an even more exciting note, the very humble Ogle is the first independent choreographer to be showcased at the State Theatre Centre!
As I sat in anticipation amongst the many colourful individuals that had appeared for the opening night of precipice, I was puzzled as to how one could combine tectonic plates and dance into a coherent performance. I was soon challenged as the lights dimmed and the stage gleamed with a stark white cross. The theatre was utterly silent––you could hear a pin drop––as the dancers began their opening sequence. Performers Tyrone Robinson, Niharika Senapati, Yilin Kong and Linton Aberie, leapt along the white cross to meet in the middle, their footsteps and panting the only noises to be heard. After they retreated and returned several times, they screamed at each other. You could say that I was initially quite perplexed at the performance.
Image Source: PICA
All was revealed as a pop of bright, white light occurred and bathed the stage in darkness as a crackling radio sounded throughout the theatre. Luke Smiles from Motion Laboratories created many intricate soundscapes for precipice. I was entranced by the layers of sound and their effect on how the audience viewed the performance. He created dynamism through sound to mimic the explosive dancing onstage, the collection of noises bounced from one side of the audience to the other.
Onstage, a division between the dancers had been created by a simple strip of white light, Benjamin Cisterne, lighting and visual designer, utilised minimalism to enhance the complexity of the choreography. Three dancers became limber swirls of motion, they curled and unfurled, a representation of the earliest forms of life on earth. The remaining dancer was a complete contrast to the others, all sharp edges and jutting arms to create controlled chaos. It soon became evident that what I was viewing was a timeline of the Earth’s existence. The realisation had me excited for what was in store for the rest of the night.
Another soundscape emerged; this one reminded me of a buzzing old gramophone combined with deep sea radar noises, overlayed with the fizzing between channels on a radio. The women became as stiff as wooden planks, their bodies poised in an unwavering line right down to their splayed toes. And so began an impressive test of trust between the partners onstage that had me on the brim of my seat. Like an unstable ladder, they tested the delicate balance between rocking their partner too much or too little, tipping them slightly over the edge only to catch them just before they hit the stage. The amount of trust the dancers would need to have for each other was enormous and for that choreography alone, I congratulate Ogle and the dancers. It was the trust fall of everyone’s dreams.
Photo Credit: Traianos Pakioufakis
Another segment of the performance had the stage lit in small spotlights of constantly varying brightness. The lights flashed in differing patterns as the quartet marched around the stage, almost as if the pair were a puzzle in search of congruence. I thought it was an interesting combination of the two and significantly added to the plot of the performance, of how it is by pure luck and the culmination of many universal aspects allowing life on Earth to exist.
Chaos erupted as the dancers spun out of control, their bodies contorted and extended at wild angles––as if they’d been suppressed before this moment. A tumultuous soundscape accompanied it and assaulted the senses. It was as if time and space were being compressed into one, it sounded like the winding of an egg timer and jets firing on an aeroplane––grating and jarring.
But then came the rebirth. A peaceful silence blanketed the theatre after the cacophony that had occurred, putting the audience back at ease. A tentative, fluid figure was silhouetted by the peach coloured frame of light behind them; the dawn of a new era. It was as if the inquisitive figure was on the brink of the world, on the precipice, if you would.
precipice was presented presented by the State Theatre Centre of WA and Rachel Arianne Ogle