Melbourne Festival Review: Tree of Codes lights up the Arts Centre and inspires everyone to dance

Dancers are nothing short of athletes. Their athleticism, precision and dedication to their craft evokes an innate sense of wonder to the regular person, but in a show like Tree of Codes, it leaves you bewildered. Choreographer Wayne McGregor joins forces with visual artist Olafur Eliasson and music genius Jamie xx to produce a work that accentuates the human form through an electronic soundscape. The ensemble of 14 outstanding dancers come from the Paris Opera Ballet as well as Company Wayne McGregor; two of the greatest ballet and contemporary dance companies in the world.

From the opening sequence of illuminated bodies in the pitch black, to the freedom of movement on the wide open stage, the audience is mesmerised. In a trance-like state, the Jamie xx soundtrack creates an intensity that can can only be represented and executed through movement. There’s something really special about contemporary ballet bringing a soundscape to life. The bodies take on each melody line and each beat pattern, weaving in and out of trios, pas de deux or solo moments. Every muscle, every pointed foot and each leg extension breathe an energy into the story that adds impact to the overall visual landscape.

Combining the worlds of three such diverse creatives, and weaving them together in such symmetry shows how one component cannot be without the other. Using the dancers as a vessel to communicate these creative aspects means each is amplified further by the other. The ease of movement from the dancers is unparalleled, and the strength behind their intention will leave you astonished. This work is very much a fusion of all creative minds which will encourage other artists to collaborate and think outside of the conventional works of dance, art and music.

The use of space and reflection was in a way a form of symbolic dance architecture. The disorientation and challenge for the dancers to be in the space, even though they don’t break the fourth wall, means there is a sense of belonging. While each dancer maintains their sense of individuality through their movement, they are able to colour the work, and encourage the music to transcend their own bodies into our seats. This work will inspire you to move, to dance, to listen beyond the main melody line, and see what lies beneath. The abstract nature of the show accentuates the interconnectedness of dance, art and music, with vibrancy at its core.

Tree of Codes ran for a very limited season. Be sure to catch in when you next see it in your city.

Images by Stephanie Berger

The reviewer attended the show on opening night, Tuesday October 17th.


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