If circus speaks in the language of wonder, the essence of contemporary circus is to make poetry from it. Australia has emerged as a world leader in the form during the 21st century, yet for all the creative ferment of our circus scene, it’s still unusual to witness something as moving and aesthetically complete as Na Djinang’s Common Dissonance.
Founded by Wakka Wakka acrobat Harley Mann in 2017, the company (whose name translates as “hands and feet”) locates its work in the unresolved tension between ancient and modern, spirituality and science and, of course, between European and First Nations cultures.
As a fair-skinned Aboriginal person, Mann straddles two worlds and this show delves viscerally into that experience. The music does much to frame the mood of the exploration, with abrupt shifts from urban electronica to First Nations gospel and some upbeat cultural collisions, including a duet between violin and didgeridoo.
The work takes flight, though, largely from the expressiveness of the acrobatics and their aesthetic synergy with contemporary dance and visual theatre.
From the opening image of two performers locked in an intimate embrace, slowly untangling themselves through a mix of tumbling and pas de deux, Common Dissonance establishes itself as dance-adjacent.
The piece uses choreography the way opera uses music and some fraction of the show’s strength and originality, and indeed its cultural depth, derives from the inclusive movement style it has developed, drawing from thousands of years of Aboriginal dance and the latest trends in the contemporary sphere.
Read the Full Article at The Sydney Morning Herald.
Circus review: Common Dissonance
There’s a beauty in watching physical theatre in an intimate space that is inevitably lost in larger auditoriums. Na Djinang Circus’s mesmerising show, Common Dissonance, at Theatre Works allows the audience to witness fundamental elements that would otherwise go unnoticed – the primal sound of flesh on flesh, the laboured breathing of the athletic performers, and the often subtle yet hypnotic physical gestures, highlighted by perfectly restrained lighting design. It’s a superb show in the perfect location.
Common Dissonance reflects the richness and complexity of Indigenous people who are steeped in tradition but living in the contemporary world.
Read the Full Review by Sarah Halfpenny at ArtsHub.