Attendance is the first work of a three-part series entitled Thank You for Coming by Brooklyn-based choreographer and director Faye Driscoll. Presented as part of Melbourne Festival, the dance performance explores how we react in social situations and how we perceive ourselves and others in these environments.
After an entertaining reminder to switch off our phones, the five dancers (Giulia Carotenuto, Sean Donovan, Alicia Ohs, Toni Melaas and Brandon Washington) enter the stage, set in the round, and their bodies begin to intertwine and form various intricate tableau-like poses. Legs rest on shoulders, arms grab legs and heads rest on stomachs; despite the chaos and the unnatural poses created, there is a sense of calmness and tranquility in the moment.
Driscoll creates an intimate atmosphere for the audience as the dancers acknowledge us and make eye contact throughout. It’s a well-structured process so that when they do come off the stage and begin to actively engage with the audience – such as asking them to brush their hair or helping the dancers change into their next costume - it seems natural and playful for us to want to engage back. It is as if we are now part of this performance.
Following this, composer and sound designer Michael Kiley begins to play his guitar and sing a song where the lyrics consist of all names, some which sound familiar and some that do not. Moving to the music in robot-like stop motion movements, the dancers re-enact moments of social niceties and greetings. While initially it is all hugs and smiles, true feelings of desire, joy and even boredom or annoyance are gradually revealed, a reminder of how much of our lives are spent performing for other people.
To reveal more of Attendance would be to spoil the surprises that occur, especially the finale which successfully builds on Driscoll's efforts to blur the role between audience member and performer and building a strong communal connection with everyone in the room.
Venue: Arts House, 521 Queensberry Street, North Melbourne, 3051
Season: until 10 October | Sat 7.30pm, Sun 5pm, Mon 6.30pm
Length: 75 minutes
Tickets: $45 Full | $35 Conc | $30 Student or try you
Bookings: Melbourne Festival
* Season is sold out, so your best chance is to try at the door prior to the performance.