Choreographed by the talented Melanie Lane, Nightdance is a piece of contemporary dance that, in a highly artistic and subtle fashion, explores the human body experiences in Melbourne’s nightclub and bar scene. Covering nightclubs, rave halls, the gay scene, and jazz/cabaret clubs, the show is breathtaking in its scope and presentation of night life and its impact on the human body.
It is worth noting that Nightdance is quite an artistic piece, and it requires an ability to appreciate slower moving pieces to get a full feel of the piece. Those with epilepsy should also be mindful that it involves flashing lights.
And now, on with the review!
The opening of the show was bold and rather creepy. As a dance show exploring the impact of nightlife on the human body, the dark and silent stage on which the weirdly angled body of three dancers could just be made out was an interesting choice. This opening really set the pace for the show, which was quite slow despite the music and nature of what they were portraying. Slow, yet tense and highly artistic.
Although initially not exactly the combination you would use to describe a night out at any of the venues portrayed, it the combination of slow and slightly unnerving is an apt summary of night life when you put your mind to it. With everything slowed down, it was possible to see the body movements of the dancers as reflections of what is seen on the dance floors around Melbourne – whether they’re your scene or not.
The sound and lighting was fantastic, with the music reflecting the different club music styles available without overpowering or detracting from the performance. The show also utilised silence in an impactful way, making sure to highlight some of the almost absurd elements of night life culture on the human body in eerie silence. The lighting, epilepsy warning aside, was highly effective. Each “movement” was able to showcase the different styles very well, and it worked seamlessly as a performance.
Perhaps most impressive was the costumes. There were a wide variety of very intriguing costumes, with even the simple opening costumes simulating naked bodies intriguing to watch (they highlighted the dancer’s skilled movements). There were jazz and cabaret-inspired costumes, someone turned the mat on the floor into a costume, and the finale of the gay and risqué nightlife had some spectacular costumes on display. Lady Gaga would’ve been proud.
But by far the best costume was a synthesis of the light show and the costume department. The dancer was wearing what can only be called a cyberpunk-inspired outfit, with lights attached to his body underneath a sinister jacket and futuristic glasses. When he began to dance, the crowd was blown away by the dancer’s skill, the lights on his costume, and the soundtrack, which all worked together in an inspiring combination.
The only real problem with the show was the fact that it sat awkwardly at times between being absurd and laughable on the one hand, and tense and straining on the other. There were a few moments when there were some chuckles in the audience, although they were sporadic and the atmosphere of the room didn’t match necessarily what was happening on stage.
Overall, Nightdance is an enjoyable dance number for the more artistically inclined among us. Providing an engaging and new view of Melbourne’s night life, and the impact it has on the human body, and with its incredible array of costumes and lighting, the show is very much something that will change your perspective.