Photo – Peter Rosetzky

Choreographer Jo Lloyd’s dance creations start from a concrete idea and dive into abstraction, with a wild, frenetic movement vocabulary. 

Handsome, her newest work for a quintet (including herself), starts from an inquiry into family lineage and character traits and bursts forth into all sorts of different kinetic directions.  

It opens strikingly with a parade of stylized bodies, decked out in outrageous fashion that includes a black and white checkered body suit and bright, UV light-enhanced fluorescent ensembles. The action has a whiff of ceremony as the procession snakes around on tippy-toes, sharply jutting-out elbows and precisely tilting heads. Point a toe. Raise a knee. March. Then swivel, jump, do a hip thrust – every little action has a distinct snapshot moment. 

This gives way to various vignettes – some hint loosely at narratives or group dynamics,  such as ones with large sticks that create physical set-ups of tensions, support and abandonment. But as states change, actions become more individualistic and scattered, eventually even combative and menacing.  

Lloyd and her ensemble (Sheridan Gerrard, Rebecca Jensen, Harrison Ritchie-Jones and Thomas Woodman) all stay on stage for the majority of the 45 minutes, requiring an extreme endurance. Some sections hit hard and some wander once the crisp mannerisms of the opening are left behind and a thrashy, twisty aesthetic takes hold. 

Driven strongly by the changing lighting states (bold designs by Keith Tucker) and the deconstructing of costume (by Andrew Treloar), the dance is just one part of a democratic collaboration of visual design, electronic soundtrack and choreography. The lighting propels the movement, more so than the other way around. Its abrupt shifts of colours onto the geometric floor design – pinks and yellows become oranges and greens – seem to introduce the next chapter of dance.

The costumes, (designed by Andrew Treloar) equally shape-shift. Stripped off, swapped out and mixed with accessories, what starts day-glo at show’s top finishes in brown, woolly bike shorts and snug-fitting tops.  

Handsome is a crazy ride that's more free-wheeling as it progresses. It starts tightly and ends ambiguously as the physical language becomes less mannered and more internal. What doesn't change is the unrelenting nexus of the electronica (by Duane Morrison) and how the visual design shifts both the ambience and choreography into each new iteration. 

Event details

Jo Lloyd presents
Handsome

Director Jo Lloyd

Venue: The Substation | 1 Market Street, Newport VIC
Dates: 22 - 26 February 2022
Tickets: $30 – $20
Bookings: thesubstation.org.au

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