‘Lucie In The Sky’ // Australian Dance Collective

‘Lucie In The Sky’ was futuristic.

‘Lucie In The Sky’ is the unique new contemporary dance work from Australasian Dance Collective. Premiering in Brisbane at The Playhouse, QPAC, ‘Lucie In The Sky’ is the culmination of years of work from the collective, dreaming up new ways to connect the digital in the form of drones to the physical with the undulating bodies of the dancers.

The full length and highly collaborative dance work features six dancers and five drones – all given unique names and associated colour, in an attempt to explore what it means to be human in an increasingly AI saturated world.

This is a highly technical work – utilizing complex coding to craft flight patterns and find new ways to interact with the artists as they rotate through combinations of ensemble work and solo performances. At the heart of the work is an attempt to form connection between the dancers and the drones – each are given personalities – The Friend, The Jester, The Caregiver, The Leader, The Artist, The Innocent, The Sage, The Seeker, The Magician, The Rebel and the Warrior. ‘Lucie In The Sky’ seeks to anthropomorphise the drones, through their unique and individually coded choreography to move in particular patterns that signal the appearance of each artist and drone connection.

‘Lucie In The Sky’ does lose some momentum in the solo performances – playful sections of mime and tableaux seemed unnatural for the dancers and they sometimes struggled to hold the audience for the duration of these moments. Additionally, the personalities of the drones battled to shine through and the complex technology inhibited one’s ability to connect both to the dancers and the drones.

Perhaps ‘Lucie In The Sky’ would be better served by providing more critique of drones – in this show they are presented as friends, but what if they’re not always a positive force? The show could have taken into account the dangers they pose to our society (or rather the ones operating them).

There are true moments of beauty and connection, particularly when contact is made between dancer and drone. The opening imagery is spectacular, a single spotlight created through excellent lighting design from Alex Berlage highlights performer Harrison Elliot, before a buzzing hum that permeates the work signals the arrival of a Swam of drones, that blink at the audience as if evaluating their viewers. Costume strikes a balance between recognisably human and other worldly, presenting a vision of what communities could look like moving into the future. The dancer’s skill is obvious, particularly in ensemble-driven sections, which is where the work really shines.

‘Lucie In The Sky’ performs until 13 May 2023 at The Playhouse, QPAC. For more information visit their website.

Photos by David Kelly

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