‘It’s a work of startling elegance, which demonstrates Guerin’s exquisite understanding of the stage as a dynamic space.’
Alison Croggon, Theatre Notes, 2012.
Premiered: The Malthouse Theatre, Melbourne 17 October 2012.
Weather represents Lucy Guerin’s return to pure dance, after several experiments combining choreography with text, improvisation and non-dance performers. Co-commissioned by the Melbourne and Brisbane Festivals and Montreal’s Place des Arts, Weather is inspired by the connection between human beings, the natural world and the elemental forces of weather, which Lucy found a rich subject to explore, ‘Weather is like choreography; it’s so kinetic, it’s about movement and displacement of air, it has limitless possibilities for dance’ (The Age, 2012).
Six dancers, two men and four women, are dressed identically in costumes designed by Shio Otani: blue crocheted jumpers and navy shorts. They perform on a completely empty, dark stage, dominated by Robert Cousins’ striking set design of white plastic bags that hang suspended from the ceiling above, resembling a cloud. During the performance the bags fall from the ceiling, littering the stage floor. While they are a powerful symbol of waste and the impact of human beings upon the natural environment, the plastic bags are also a compelling visual element and a way of ‘making moving air visible’ (The Age, 2012). As they fall to the floor they become part of the choreography, caught up in the ebb and flow of the dancers’ movements.
Weather’s choreography is inspired by meteorological patterns; Guerin visited the Bureau of Meteorology as part of her research. The dancers embody various weather formations: blowing like leaves in the wind, arranging themselves in lines across the stage like advancing fronts moving across a weather map, forming chains that wind and unwind like isobars. Weather explores both the effect of the weather on the human body and emotions, as well as the reverse: how human beings are changing weather patterns through the impact we make on the natural world. One of the dancers in the 2012 performances, Harriet Ritchie, was visibly pregnant; a poignant reminder of the world being left to future generations.
The score, created with composer Oren Ambarchi, is an important element. Rather than reflecting the erratic unpredictability of the weather, the music is unexpectedly rhythmic and ‘quite relentless, quite metrical’ (The Age, 2012). According to critic Simonne Michelle-Wells of Australian Stage, ‘If the wind had a voice I’m pretty sure I heard it on Thursday night. The beautiful shapes and synchronicity of the dancers’ bodies as they bend to inescapable forces will stay with you long after you leave the theatre’ (Australian Stage, 2012).
17-21 October 2012: Premiere – The Malthouse Theatre, Melbourne, Australia
3-4 October 2013: Centre for the Art of Performance, University of California Los Angeles, United States of America
9 October 2013: Art Power UC San Diego, United States of America
17-19 October 2013: White Bird Dance Portland, United States of America
22-26 October 2013: Place des Arts, Montreal, Canada
7-9 November 2013: National Arts Centre, Ottawa, Canada
Images: Lucy Guerin Inc ‘Weather’ by Heidrun Lohr