Brisbane’s Expressions Dance Company (EDC) return with a second helping of their popular melancholic drama, 'The Dinner Party'.
A new cast, new character developments, and a new artistic director, 'The Dinner Party' is a piece centred around a dichotomy of characters and their varying emotions and characteristics as they interact with one another at a dinner party.
“'The Dinner Party' is actually the work of the former EDC Director, Natalie Weir,” current EDC Artistic Director, Amy Hollingsworth says. “She has played or toyed with this concept for many years.
“The piece has gone through a journey of several iterations – the first time the company danced the piece was back in 2015 when I was Rehearsal Director. But Natalie has always had a real interest in the nuances in what can unfold at a dinner party – the best way to put it is that she loves the idea of absolute power corrupting.
“There’s a saying – 'power corrupts, but absolute power corrupts absolutely' – put that in a setting of a dinner party, she [Weir] wanted to explore themes of wealth, power, manipulation, greed, love, status – quite hefty things.”
Image © David Kelly
In the setting of a dinner party, Weir dug into those elements and used the interactions between the characters in that setting to let the story unfold. The stage is set for an elegant dinner party, a male host of influence, and wealth is a manipulator controlling his guests. “His wife, who we call the hostess, she’s the one that wields the real power in their relationship,” Amy explains. “The other characters, one of them is called The Lover, The Host’s lover, so there’s a power play of the insecurities of The Hostess.
“Another character is called The Rival, ready to challenge The Host for his position of status and power. The final character is an insecure young woman who when she gets her confidence up, likes to have a party!”
A group of eclectic people around a table, the whole piece centres around tiny nuance shifts of power that turn on a dime, depending on how certain things unfold. What’s interesting is the depth of emotions portrayed – naturally those feelings are expressed in hand movements and facial expressions, but choreographing something to escalate the motions and, better still, setting it to a soundtrack, is far more intricate than you may anticipate.
“Natalie’s selection of music is quite a journey. She plays a large palate and uses a range of different composers and had the help of Tanya Fraser of the Southern Cross Soloists when she was first crafting this.
Image © David Kelly
“Each scene, as it unfolds, she’d find a personality through the music. The Hostess has a melancholic solo that reflects the deterioration of the relationship with her husband, and Natalie’s choice of music is more adagio music to suit that emotional tone.”
What Amy loves about dance and how it’s able to convey about emotion and meaning is the cues we’re able to read from each other.
“Physically our body language, there’s obvious examples, like The Host is in positions of power poses. That tall stance and broad through the feet, certain physical attributes we associate with confidence, it’s really easy to show a demonstration of power through physical language.
“Obviously between those subtle physical cues plus the music giving an indicator of how we should be feeing through certain scenes, it really does set the tone for the whole work.”
'The Dinner Party' plays Queensland Performing Arts Centre from 10-18 May.