Divercity review: Following different paths through time and space – The Age

Jordan Beth Vincent

Mariaa Randall
Arts House, North Melbourne
Until March 26

Before the performance of Divercity begins, choreographer Mariaa Randall invites audience members who identify as women onto the stage. There, we learn different Aboriginal words that translate as “girl” or “woman”. The context is clearly laid out through this simple sharing of language: Divercity explores the story of women and the way they may negotiate the experience of leaving their country for new places or carry their country with them.

Part of Divercity‘s movement vocabulary seems to draw on everyday gestures as forms of communication. Henrietta Baird twists her ponytail as though squeezing water from it, while Ngioka Bunda-Heath flicks hers back as though punctuating a joke. Rolling sequences on the floor or movements in which the dancers cross and uncross their legs are layered with these gestures, as well as fragments of conversation featuring the various words for “girl”.

There is a real sense of life happening in its most casual, personable way through language and laughing. Simultaneously, there is a sense that time is passing at a different pace and energy through the movement of bodies. Brilliant turquoise and pink dust blooms from the dancers’ dresses and, at the end, the dancers leave traces of their pathways on the stage as well as on the soles of the feet of many audience members.

Randall’s work follows the idea of pathways through time and space in a very thoughtful way. This is layered by Keith Deverell’s projected imagery that seems to trace a different trajectory, from natural land to the urban sprawl.