‘Kindred’ was not like an episode of Dance Moms. That’s a great relief, given the way dance concerts can feel like a strange sort of parental purgatory reserved for backstage mums and sad dads. But the MADSOC major production this year was vibrant, eclectic and engaging from top to tail.
The show starts with a brief prologue introducing the two main characters, Emma & Anna, Victorian sisters who get lost in some sort of time vortex. The plot vaguely follows the sisters through their exploration of time and culture, to finish with a joyous reunion at the finale. Throughout the show, the throughline is a useful technique to link a diverse range of dances and styles, if sometimes a little labored. The costumes of the two sisters are a neat instrument to differentiate several dancers who at various points play the two main sisters. Georgia Britt and Bec Clare take the leads in these roles, giving the sisters a strong emotional connection, and they didn’t even use any words.
Throughout the show I was consistently impressed by the passion and sentiment expressed in the dances, helped by some beautiful lighting and stage design imagery by Michael Goodyear & Samantha Sing Key. My favourite was a joyous exploration of Indian culture, autonomously performed, with sensational choreography and consistent energy.
Importantly, Kindred is the most gender and racially diverse cast I have seen in any production this year.
The show could definitely have used a sound designer to make transitions and soundbytes cleaner, as the music was at times clunky and poorly placed. Some of the group numbers would have benefitted from a little more energy, but this could be put down to the lackluster crowd of the matinee performance I saw. With a cast of 80 (there are units of study with fewer people enrolled in them than this production), Sing Key has done well to put together a show that is polished and enjoyable to watch.
As someone who is primarily involved in shows where people talk, Kindred was a refreshing and entertaining reminder that bodies can be incredibly poetic, and that revue dancing is really crap by comparison.