Premiere: 17 October, 2008, Arts House (Meat Market), Melbourne.
“A singularly joyous experience, a celebration of the innate subversiveness of the human body.”
Alison Croggon, Theatre Notes, 2008
Premiering as part of the 2008 Melbourne International Arts Festival, Corridor is a 55-minute dance theatre work that explores, in the words of Lucy Guerin, “how we exist in the public arena and in those transit or waiting spaces” (Critical Correspondence, 2009). Mimicking a public corridor, the set design by Donald Holt consists of a long narrow stage, akin to a catwalk, framed on either side by audience chairs and mirrored screens at each end. Six dancers inhabit this space, using their bodies to explore notions of self image in the contemporary world – a world of advertising overload and social mores.
The dance methodology behind Corridor grew out of improvisation and challenged Lucy Guerin to adapt her choreographic style:
“Corridor has been a bit of a new process for me because often in the past I’ve worked with choreographed material. I’m creating movement and setting it for the dancers. In this process we’ve worked a lot with giving verbal instructions or written instructions, and generating movement from that… we’ve generated hundreds of instructions during the rehearsal process, and we use them in different ways” (Critical Correspondence, 2008).
During the performance, the dancers respond in real-time to instructions from iPods, mobile phones, spoken word and written text. Their bodies in this sense become receivers and transmitters of information, symbolising the human struggle to respond to the contemporary sphere of public expectation. A sense of chaos is conveyed throughout the dance; at one point the dancers move in duets, at another point two become enclosed within glass panels. According to dance critic Deborah Jowitt, “the six remarkable, unforgettable performers rise from among the spectators one by one, cued by their ringing cell phones… the movement becomes stranger and stranger, as the dancers begin to travel through space” (The Village Voice, 2009).
The audience experience in Corridor is unconventional, with each spectator viewing the show from a different vantage point as the dancers move up and down the narrow performance area. Small speakers under the audience’s chairs play different ambient sounds that were recorded in public spaces around Melbourne by composer Haco. Each audience member hears different sounds, creating a personal relationship between them and the performance itself. Reflecting on the relationship between audience and performance, Lucy Guerin stated that “you get very intimate, up-close contact with the dancers…giving them [the audience] a sense that they are inside of it rather than watching from a distance” (Critical Correspondence, 2008).
Following its premiere in Melbourne, Corridor traveled to the United States in 2009 for performances in New York and Philadelphia. Critical reviews of Corridor drew attention to the complexities and hidden meanings within the performance: “The dancing is delivered with dynamic precision and commitment” wrote New York critic Roslyn Sulcas, “never liberating us from the uneasy sense that a particular meaning lurks, undiscovered” (New York Times, 2009). Critic Robert Johnson wrote that Corridor is “a place for wishes, fantasies and fears and, in the darkness, an existential No Man’s Land” (New Jersey Times, 2009). Dance blogger Tonya Plank concluded that “there was so much going on in this piece… which is one of the things I liked about it” (Tonya Plank blog, 2009).
16-25 October, 2008: Premiere, Melbourne International Arts Festival, Arts House (Meat Market), Melbourne.
15-20 September, 2009: Baryshinikov Arts Centre, New York City.
25-26 September, 2009: Bryn Mawr, Philadelphia.
Images: Jeff Busby