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Tree of Codes, Sydney Festival 2018

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Not sure if a report on Wayne Macgregor when he's wearing his modern dance hat is allowed, but the moderators will delete this if it's not suitable, so here goes. WM's latest  (well, latest for Oz anyway) offering is Tree of Codes with dancers from his own company plus two from POB. No cast list :( so I can't give any names. Technically amazing ... 75 minutes of frenetic action, and professionally impressive -it was 43 degrees outside. Of course, we were in a deliciously air-conditioned building, but still ... . Music -James xx - who I gather is very much the thing - but a bit too monotonous for me. Staging (lighting doesn't cover it) initially arresting. The dancers are backed by a huge mirror so single dancers are doubled, two become four and so on. Later a second mirror is added, so that dancers in front of the first mirror continue to be doubled, but those between the first and second mirrors appear to dance at the head of an infinite line of dancers stretching into the distance. Arresting at first. My personal favourite came right at the beginning with the stage in darkness. The dancers have lights attached to their costumes,  so it looks like clouds of cogniscent fireflies coming together and breaking apart. 

One critic wrote that, technically stunning as the work was, it lacked heart, and I went along fully expecting to disagree. But it does. Finally I could not see what McGregor was trying to say. Maybe it was about the now. Each movement totally complete in itself, before being swept away by the next. If so, it was not enough.



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  • Ian Macmillan changed the title to Tree of Codes, Sydney Festival 2018

JMB:  No problem whatsoever about your mentioning Tree of Codes here, and I've extended the thread title to add some context.  I had included a preview article from The Australian in Links late last week, but I see that it has since vanished behind the paper's subscription paywall.  I imagine that reviews should start to appear in the Australian papers before too long.





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I saw the world premiere in Manchester and loved it so much I managed to get a ticket for a couple of days later.


I found it a totally immersive experience and I too like your comment of it being in the moment.


Here's the link to the original discussion:  


Edited by Jan McNulty
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jmb .. Are you sure there were 2 POB dancers in the Sydney performance??  For the Melbourne festival in October 17 they advertised POB dancers but not in the Sydney Festival blurb. 

And yes, you are right. There was no programme on sale or cast sheet available at the  theatre, but it can be downloaded as a .pdf at the Sydney Festival website with the link above provided by Ian. It states that the guests were Catarina Carvalho and Mara Galeazzi.

The stamina and technique of the dancers was admirable, but it really felt like a half hour ballet which would have left me wanting more. Most sections went on too long and I kept waiting for it to move on. The new theatre where it was showing was completely unsuitable. More like a conference centre lecture hall. Maybe that detracted from the show for me.

Having seen the Mcgregor programme at ROH last November I found Tree of Codes very similar. I did like Woolf Works however.

Edited by stucha
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I understood that there were 2 dancers from POB, but given the lack of a cast list or program, I could be wrong. Downloads on the Festival website don't cut it for me. And you are right about the theatre!

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