Thursday November 3 saw the Australian premiere of the weird and wonderful multimedia experience Sous Terre (French for ‘underground’) at the old Tuxedo Cat, now the Feast Festival headquarters. Presented by Adelaide-based Adamek Anahata Productions in conjunction with Felicity Arts and Feast, a cast of six dancers took to the stage and leapt, twirled, strutted and sassed their way through a 40-minute-long exploration of dance, music, culture and queer identity. Each member demonstrated stunning technical proficiency by bringing an individual style and flair to the table, with the performance showcasing a fusion of ballet, voguing, Philippine ethnic dance and breaking (if I’m honest though, anyone who spends more than a minute en pointe is already amazing in my eyes).
While the dance and music were intoxicating as standalone elements, the performance was well and truly brought to life by an immersive display of VJing in which cast members would film themselves, each other and occasionally the audience to be projected in real-time on a wall at the back of the stage. Often taking the form of a selfie video or bringing the focus onto body parts (boobs, lips, eyes, the drawn-on beard of a cast member), the live film aspect added a unique element that assisted in exploring questions of gender, voyeurism and cultural identity. The projector screen was also used to showcase live visuals, which worked in harmony with a driving electronic soundtrack by DJ Tom Cotter.
The only criticism that comes to mind that is most likely out of control of the production company anyway was the venue. The chosen space was a long narrow room lacking tiered seating, meaning that if you weren’t lucky enough to snatch up front row seats, you probably missed out on many of this particular performance’s intricacies. This show would shine in a larger space and make its mesmerising multimedia elements even more powerful. Otherwise, I think my pal summed up the performance pretty well as we walked out of the venue: “it was like an acid trip — not a bad one, though.”
Sous Terre took place at 54 Hyde Street on November 3 2016.