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Review: More Up A Tree

★★★★

More Up A Tree, performed by drummer Jim White (of the Dirty Three), Berlin-dancer Claudia de Serpa Soares and designed by visual artist Eve Sussman is an intimate interface between two performers stripping down to the bare elements.
 
Performed in the massive main hall of the Substation, we walked in to find the space compacted down to the audience, sitting right up close and in front of a sizeable two way reflective Perspex box – a la interview room in cop shows.
 
Some in the audience sit on the floor, some on the seats and others stand. It’s unclear what levels of visibility there are from within the box, but for the majority of the performance the audience is allowed to stare into the microcosm inside unchecked. The drummer and the dancer inside are seemingly unaware of our presence. The message received is voyeurism, observation and modern apartment living.
 
It’s this false privacy that allows the dance to take place. De Serpa Soares oscillates between precise regulated use of her limbs and core, to utter body mania. However, all of this appears to be a specific and thought-out response to being in their box. White is a drummer who aurally dominates but does so without a skerrick of drama. De Serpa Soares takes up that mantle and paces animal-like, pushing to the very boundaries of the space. Sometimes she dances in direct response to White’s rhythm, sometimes apart from it, like both are trying to coax each other into a reply.
 
Perhaps the cutest aspect of the performance was just detectable above White’s masterful playing. It was the humming, singing and yelping of de Serpa Soares and sometimes dialogue between the two. Smiling and nodding at each other. It’s rare to see these personal moments on stage, for the very reason that the artists are so aware of the audience watching. Ironically, drinking in these expressions and moments, this is the absolute pleasure of live music, dance and theatre. When what you’re seeing seems like it’s reserved for private, it’s deeply satisfying.
 
At the end of it all, More Up A Tree is a performance with two audiences, the one inside and the one outside the box.