Oz Asia Festival 2019: KATA

What: KATA

Who: par Terre / Anne Nguyen Dance Company

When: 17-18 October 2019

Where: Space Theatre

Photograph: Homard Payette

KATA, an inspiring performance delivered by eight breakdancers from the Anne Nguyen Dance Company. It was a packed hour of mesmerising dance routines which have all been formulated with precision and exhibited a bold amalgamation of dance. Each routine showcased elements of dance from a diverse range of cultural influences and contexts.

The opening scene, a lone dancer enters an empty stage and performs a mixture of Capoeira and breakdance. His physical strength, athleticism, stamina, and adept movements are impressive, yet are a mere foreshadowing of the performance to ensue. Throughout the performance I felt all eight members of the dance troupe worked in harmony. They were capable, well trained, and there was an energy which radiated between them whilst performing. 

With each act that preceded the next, the pacing and feeling of continuity between routines made it feel as if they were cascading upon one another, aided by the visual fluidity of the dancers’ movements. Their ability to hold gravity defying postures, and physically demanding motions was breathtaking – showing minimal signs of exhaustion besides slight sweat on their brow.

An exceptional routine was when all eight dancers were in synchronised movement, and constantly moving on and off of the stage, yet when re-entering the spotlight, they perfectly blended in with those already appearing. Again, this highlights the element and feeling of continuity, as well as the unison of the dancers. 

Furthermore the aggressive tone, and assertive strikes of their body were effective in matching the rhythmic drum backing, with each blow helped to emphasise the dancers’ movements significantly. Similarly the way they utilised microphones on the floor, reverberated the dancers’ laboured breath was effective in intensifying the tone, making it remarkably intimate. 

The use of stage lighting effectively highlighted certain aspects of each routine, shifted the tone and mood of each act, as well as created depth and layering to the stage as the dancers’ continuously moved around. Their costumes made of a somewhat slippery looking material was perfect to help the dancers glide across the stage in and out of sight effectively. 

I thoroughly enjoyed attempting to pick out the distinct styles and influences throughout each routine. Another act which stands out in my mind, was one of the martial arts sequences. It was  reminiscent of vintage fighting games like Dead or Alive or Street Fighter. The way the dancers were able to mimic the movements of these characters in the games was astonishing, yet on stage the fights only played out in the form of dance steps – incredibly engaging to watch!

It was great to see this group perform as part of the Oz Asia Festival, they have one more show during this festival season, and it’s tonight! I recommend watching this show, it was a great experience I will not forget.

4 out of 5 stars

– by Rachel Wong

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