MADSOC’s Kinetica is compelling and experimental

A fusion of dance and science yields magical results.

In Ancient Greek, kinetica means ‘moving things’. For a dance show, that’s about as accurate a description as it gets. But, when it comes to Kinetica, MADSOC’s 2017 major production, the name does double, or even triple, duty: this a show about movement. It’s a show that’s full of movement. And it was a show that moved me a lot more than I expected.

Kinetica, directed by Tiarne Gilligan and produced by Emily Zhong, showcases some outstanding choreography and performance by USyd students. With 30 different pieces and over 90 different performers, Gilligan and Zhong have done had a lot of conceptual corralling to do. And I’m impressed that they chose science for the job: the show explores science and its forces, what we can learn about them through dance, and how creative process can engage us with knowledge.

To be honest, I would’ve missed these ideas if I hadn’t read the novella-length program. But a choreographer note for each piece certainly helped. So did their evocative titles — just seeing the listing for ‘necrosis’ gave me chills of anticipation. Armed with the program, I was surprised by how cerebral some of the pieces were, particularly when they explored the limits of dancing and the human body. At other times, I was entertained, though less convinced that dance could teach me much about, say, zoology. Look out for the leopard print leotards….

But concept aside, there is some compelling choreography going on here. The line up features hip-hop, urban, contemporary, ballet, ballroom, jazz, tap, and Bollywood styles, which were generally well paced. A mid-second act ballet number, for example, was welcome contrast to an otherwise frenetic build up.

In true MADSOC tradition, the contemporary pieces were a highlight: they had a bristling energy, backed by some jaw-dropping acrobatics. The best example of this was Sensate, a hip-hop and contemporary blend late in act one. Paulina Clavijo’s choreography was provocative and the standout of the evening.

Every piece, though, was underscored by Michael Goodyear’s exceptional lighting. His broad colour palettes are simple enough to avoid overwhelming distraction, yet allowed every piece an individual character.

Finally, all of the performers were strong: there were some exceptional solo numbers, like the opening Metamorphosis performed by Sumi Antonioli. All of the large ensemble pieces were cohesive, and the intimate pieces showcased individual skills well.

This is an eclectic show, brought together by some strong dancing, and provocative choreography. The concept, at times, is hard to follow, but I left thinking more about the human form than I have for a while. Kinetica is compelling in its abstraction and thought-provoking in its experimentation.