Dystopia: a genre mash-up where everything is ‘extreme’

Choreographer Lina Limosani (BDance 1999) has been working with our dance and production students to create a new full-length dance work, Dystopia, running at Gasworks from May 6-9. Here, Lina tells us about the development of Dystopia and her interest in finding a viscerally engaging movement language.

I have been creating dance work for quite a few years now and it never seems to get any easier! It’s a crafty skill I become consumed by as I search for the most interesting ways to present a narrative for the stage.

This new work Dystopia takes as its launch point class distinction, qualities of power and exploitation, which has certainly offered juicy material for theatrical exploration and narrative direction. Using an entirely constructed heavily stylized landscape filled with symbolism and metaphors, Dystopia attempts to convey a social message, reflecting upon certain hypocrisies of today. Referencing Chinese sweatshops and an undermined working class, this work is concerned with the reality that others serve the needs of our uprising lifestyle.

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This work will see eccentric characters dressed in outrageous costuming, engaging in overt theatricality, running alongside mundane, mechanical almost robotic like characters. It is all bound together by a highly intricate dance vocabulary and supported by a compelling sound-score. It is a “genre mash-up” of tragi-comedy, contemporary dance and slapstick.

The third year students from the Bachelor of Fine Arts (Dance) program have worked at a remarkable level of professionalism during this intensive collaborative process. With a diverse range of personalities, not only has each performer been challenged by the demands of the choreography and enthusiasm of the performance, but also in their ability to bring the best of themselves physically and mentally to this work.

This new work development has encouraged them to express their own personalities and nuisances through their movement vocabulary, quietly developing specific traits of their characters.

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My interest in finding a viscerally engaging movement language for this work has led me to explore techniques found in traditional theatre devising. There has been a focus on the performers’ physical and facial gestures that gives emphasis to the dramatic elements of the movement, channeling the drama through the bodies of the characters.

The “characters” are physical characters as opposed to acted or spoken individuals. No live spoken text is used, instead, primitive vocalisation is the primary tool that we have explored, predominantly to enhance the characters’ emotions and physicality.

The collaboration for this project has been a pure treat. I have been fortunate enough to work closely with a visual dramaturg and costume designer, both from the Master of Design for Performance program, along with a lighting designer and production team from the Bachelor of Fine Arts (Production) department. Their incredible approach and enthusiasm to involve themselves across all aspects of the work, has enabled me to have a solid team, a group of artists to which I can bounce ideas and seek support from. They have openly taken my lead on the notion that everything is extreme – an unusual vision for a dance theatre work.

Dystopia owns a distinctive dance style and could not have become as compelling as it has without the contribution and commitment from all the team involved.

A version of this article originally appeared on Channel, the Faculty’s previous publishing platform.