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Afterglow: Generations
PACT, June 16

★★

The performance will be two hours, including interval, it was announced as we went in. It turned out to be three hours less 10 minutes. And it felt like six.

Cloe Fournier in her work, Humanoid.

Photo: Freya Ludowici

The annoying thing is that both solo performers are good movers who have put a lot of thought into their work. Yet so little focus of their presentations was on dance. In different ways, each was more about production than performance.

Afterglow: Generations is presented by PACT to encourage a "cross generational conversation". In this season, Cloe Fournier was the early career performer, though she has had extensive performing experience with companies and other choreographers as well as making her own work.

In Humanoid, she takes on the character of a bird – "a confused feminist" – that adapts to the whims of society. It's a promising idea and it starts well, as Fournier makes her way slowly up the handrail of a staircase, her arms wing-like and head poised in avian mode – references that re-appear subtly as the solo progresses.

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The chances for change lead her though a spot of cabaret, a one-woman race woven through the standing audience to a disco beat, a catwalk parade in a cut-away crinoline and a backbend session on the floor when she looked like a chicken plucked and ready for the oven.

These and other episodes required long costume changes performed on stage with the cool assistance of Brianna Newton, who well deserved her program credit. Not much time left for the elegantly angular movement that Fournier briefly demonstrated she could do so well. What a pity.

Senior dancer and scuba diver Dean Walsh has an urgent message to convey. It's about the appalling way we are damaging the environment, specifically in this piece, Threshold:NRC, by allowing plastic waste to get into the sea.

He has collected horrific amounts of it and he hurls it on to the performing space from giant plastic bags. He runs around the rubbish, trailing a rope that could hold a fishing net which snags on a growing pile of bits and pieces; then wades through it; then pushes into it like a swimmer, almost beached by its ugly immensity, choking on plastic bags he ties around his head.

He talks to us about the problem, writes about it in scientific terms on two giant blackboards and finally gives us a short burst of his characteristically flexible movement style before inviting the audience to help him clear the rubbish away – as they did. If this adds to our environmental consciousness, it's something worth doing. But it doesn't make good art.

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