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  • Fiona Prior

Frontera - Sydney Festival 2020


Choreography and direction: Dana Gingras

in coproduction with Animals of Distinction

The intensity of this Canadian dance and media coproduction is almost unbearable. Animals of Distinction (AOD) has the core proposition that you can obtain critical knowledge by engaging in the physical and emotional risks inherent to dance and music … exploring a world that is larger than individual, isolated experience.

I don’t think anyone left ‘Frontera’ without a degree of emotional exhaustion. The velocity and extremity of the dance movements was equalled by the live band (Fly Pan AM); the band's dark shadows intermittently revealed by a transparent curtain through the performance.

AOD used light and sound to provoke physical barriers; forces and ‘walls’. At one stage, a beam of light ‘compelled’ a dancer to cross the stage. At another, two streams of light pulled an embracing couple apart as they tried desperately to cling to one another. Throughout the work, beams of light created barriers or searched the stage, surveillance-style looking for … escapees maybe? Or those breaking in? Or those not allowed, that universe of ‘others’?

There were times when the light appeared to inflict physical pain on the dancers, inflaming hands or heads so that forms seemed to crumble from its intensity.

I certainly was not able to view this piece without emotional engagement. Admittedly, I am a willing and seasoned participant in cultural performance and open myself readily to experience but I quite honestly do not believe I could have resisted. Down to the (at times) shattering intensity of the music, it was impossible not to be pierced by some sensory element of ‘Frontera’.

My mind wandered from thoughts of refugees, fires, friends in pain, separation, political and emotional hurdles, destroyed relationships … the whole gamut.

‘Frontera’ in one of the many exciting performances presently being staged in Sydney for Sydney Festival 2020.

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