Words by Ngoc Lan Tran
Featured in The Move, a dance double bill presented by the Adelaide Festival Centre
Genre: Contemporary Dance
Created By: Gabrielle Nankivell in collaboration with Jo Stone
Dramaturgy: Katrina Lazarof
Venue: The Adelaide Festival Centre, Space Theatre
An unexpectedly thrilling narrative of competitive cycling, Gabrielle Nankivell and Jo Stone show us the might of their wonder and grit, using only the stylistic of contemporary dance, a stationary bicycle, three costume changes, a booming goddess-like voiceover, and the forever-iconic sound of Eye of the Tiger by Survivor.
Wonder Grit tells a larger-than-life story of not just the trials and strides of competitive cycling, but also those of professional dancing and other sports. Exploring the limits of our bodies was the least of it.
What resonates is an incredibly heartfelt reflection from a career built upon the plasticity of body movements. Nankivell and Stone skilfully take turns embodying the duality of physicality and psyche — from which we take a journey of relentless training to the zenith of body+soul synchronicity, and of the failure when your body fails to keep up the pace.
Overall, while the arrangement of movements is coherent, there are times in the performance when bits and pieces do not fall into place. Wonder Grit emerges from a cacophony of rumbling airplanes and other sounds that may have been too farfetched to bridge into the storytelling and message.
Eye of the Tiger also must be discussed. Albeit entertaining, the song has become such an overused cliché that remixing it into an innovative soundbite seems impossible. Its only purpose here is to add to a repertoire of comic reliefs featured in the performance, and thus pitifully ebbing away the drama of it all.
Regardless, Wonder Grit is unquestionably new, exciting, and engaging, and is fitting for all searching for a refreshing take on contemporary dance.
Disclaimer: Due to a miscommunication with the Adelaide Festival Centre, Ngoc Lan only saw and reviewed Wonder Grit, the second bill of The Move.
The unreviewed half of the double dance bill is called Satori, directed and choreographed by Lewis Major. https://www.adelaidefestivalcentre.com.au/events/the-move/