Sunday 24 September 2017

Neon Dreams - Melbourne Fringe Festival review

The 80s are the greatest music decade ever and after seeing Transit Dance's Neon Dreams, I'm fairly certain they agree. Performed by 25 first year students of the school's Performing Arts course, you easily feel like you have time travelled back to the era where music was - for the most part - all about moving your body and  singing as loud as you could.

The soundtrack consists of some iconic 80s gems such as Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Want To Have Fun", RUN-DMC's "Tricky" and Robert Palmer's "Simply Irresistible", with all songs providing a great opportunity to display the versatility and skill of each dancer. However the highlight of the evening was Cassidy Richardson and Dimitri Raptis turn in INXS' "Never Tear Us Apart". Their ability to convey a complexity of emotions while performing the sensually aggressive choreography by Yvette Lee had the entire room transfixed.

Similarly, Jessica Cranage in Michael Sembello's "Maniac" was completely taken over by the music and delivered an absolutely commanding performance. The evening also includes a moment of reflection with a touching tribute to 80s music legends lost over the years, including Whitney Houston, David Bowie, Prince and Michael Jackson. 

Lee's choreography is engaging, active and takes into account many of the dancer's own unique abilities. Lee is able to create strong, distinct routines for each act and within that, individual moves for each dancer, resulting in audiences always having something new to see no matter where you are looking on the stage.

Costume designers Kim Adam and Gina Dwipayana had a mammoth task ahead of them, and the results are aesthetically incredible with the brightly coloured powered suits, dazzling leotards, and break-dancing / street-wear attire. Along with Craig Boyes' lighting design in the warehouse sized performance space, you do feel like you have been sucked into a time portal.

Neon Dreams is a hugely entertaining trip through some memorable songs and dance moves of the 80s. The entire groups of dancers ought to be congratulated on delivering such high calibre, energetic performances and most importantly, having fun while they are doing it.

Neon Dreams was performed at Transit Dance between 21 and 23 September 2017.

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