Inside Out Review: An exploration of dance and architecture

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Construction of dancers, Inside Out, 27 April 2019. Photograph: Claire Torrisi

Texture, angles, construction – descriptors of architecture or descriptors of dance?

If done correctly, site-specific work should draw the eye of the audience to simultaneously take in both dancer and room; to subconsciously see the reflection of the environment in the art of the dancer’s movements.

Cathedral-like structure of Abedian School of Architecture. Photograph: Claire Torrisi

Inside Out by Tammy Zarb and Company got this right. Located in the Abedian School of Architecture at Bond University, a building designed from the inside out, Zarb’s production combines the artistry of both dance and architecture to deliver a seamless exploration of design. 

The show begins outside with a single dancer. The dancer takes the role of tour-guide, beckoning the audience to follow as she flows around the cathedral-like beams and waved-cement exterior of the building. Like children in a game, the audience move with anticipation and intrigue.

Soloist in the light, Inside Out. Photograph: Claire Torrisi

Entering the building, the audience consumes overwhelming visuals of high ceilings, arches and cove-like areas, mixed with bold lines and levels. It’s clear where Zarb has drawn her choreographic inspiration.

High ceilings in Abedian School of Architecture. Photograph: Claire Torrisi
A hidden dancer, Inside Out. Photograph: Claire Torrisi

 The excitement builds as the audience starts to spot the dancers hidden within the building. The silent communication between dancer and audience is captivating; the audience understands internal cues of where to look, stand and touch.

As the audience is led through the building, succinct solos or duets are performed in each new area approached, highlighting finer details within the building such as the underside of a staircase.

A soloist in Inside Out. Photograph: Claire Torrisi
A dancer beckons the audience. Photograph: Claire Torrisi

The true dance performance occurs at the building’s end-most space, with the entire cast of dancers. The choreography here is athletic, strong and technically apt.  The dancers express the room – from repetitive port de bras that highlight the cylindrical space to poses that mimic the feature lights with the dancers’ faces.   

Tammy Zarb & Co dancers mid-performance. Photograph: Claire Torrisi
Tammy Zarb & Co dancers mid-performance. Photograph: Claire Torrisi

The show concludes outside – where the crispness of the air almost adds to the sharpness of the dancers’ movements and the performance quality. When the dancers come forward and bow, you can almost feel the audience awaken as if from a sensory trip, some 45 minutes later.

Somehow, in Zarb’s construction of the performance she has discovered a way to make the audience feel art as if an emotion.   

Tammy Zarb & Co dancers outside the Abedian School of Architecture. Photograph: Claire Torrisi
Reverent dancers outside the Abedian School of Architecture. Photograph: Claire Torrisi
Abedian School of Architecture. Photograph: Claire Torrisi
  • Inside out was performed as part of Bleach* Festival, Gold Coast, 17 – 28 April 2019.

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