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Theatre Review: Short + Sweet Dance Gala - New Theatre, Sydney (02.02.14)

Three women in lingerie seemingly torture a young shirtless man.

If I had to sum up the Gala finals of Short + Sweet Dance in one word it would be, not surprisingly, diverse. Given this evenings performances were the result of several rounds of voting it became clear quite quickly that the public, and the judges, like their dance funny.

Familiar Strangers, choreographed and performed by Joseph Simons incorporated an endearing awkwardness and a cheekiness that was endearing. Starting the performance in just his underwear you were able to fully comprehend the tiniest movement. His transition from standing to resting on a stool and lovingly kissing his bicep was flawless.

Nyunga, choreographed and performed by Thomas E. S. Kelly along with Taree Sansbury, Caleena Sansbury and Phil Dean Walford was mesmerising. In particular the two female dancers were exceptional, their movements conveying a much deeper narrative. The connection between all four performers was evident, effectively heightening their engagement with the audience. I was disappointed when the ten minutes was up.

Other notable performers included Melekh, choreographed and performed by Harrison Hall, Hard-Boiled Wonderland, choreographed and performed by Amber McCartney and Salt, choreographed and performed by Brianna Kell and Alexandra Andrews.

The final performance of the evening, Swingdancin', choreographed by Natasha Crane, was a crowd pleaser. There were flips and dips with showy, flashy moves a plenty. The 1950'- wearing, Grease-loving, swing-dancing-convert in me loved it but conceptually and technically was it the strongest? Probably not. Although it should have surprised no one when it was announced as People's Choice in the awards that were announced at the evening's conclusion.

Interestingly the Dance festival Directors, Joshua Lowe and Adam Wheeler, lamented once again that there was a concious effort this year to move away from the previous competition model. Admittedly this is the first time I've attended Short + Sweet but there was voting and awards handed out. Sounds like a competition to me.

Other awards included:

Outstanding Choreography: Sean Marcs and Anna Healy, No Fungus, No Tree and Brianna Kell and Alexandra Andrews, Salt

Award for Audacious Work: Eva Crainean, Girl Getting Bitter

Outstanding Female Dancer: Amber McCartney, Hard-Boiled Wonderland and Rosslyn Wythes, /Lu:p-/

Outstanding Male Dancer: Harrison Hall, Melekh