I saw a dance piece last night called Colossus. Choreographed by Stephanie Lake as part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival at The Arts Centre.
It was epic.
50 dancers on stage. Pulsing, throbbing, flocking. Unison and chaos.
En masse like that, the human form transforms itself. It suddenly becomes alien, or rather, it reveals itself as animal.
The work is a beautiful reflection of this moment. The joy and terrifying power of humans forming and breaking apart and reforming in tribes. Both live and virtually.
Most of the work reflected the magic that people create through intense cooperation. At one moment the group turns on one of its own. Singles them out.
Victim and hoard.
It was chilling. Frighteningly real. It triggered my experiences of having groups of people turn on me. It reminded me of how vulnerable I am to being abandoned by my village. How the invisible threads of support and trust keep each of us safe. For a moment I was that isolated human under attack. It was extremely uncomfortable.
Eventually this lone figure is delicately folded back into the group. This confused me. I accepted it, it seemed real…but is that it? Is there no retribution for the mass hysteria? No self-reflection from the group on its irrational seething anger? Why is their violence unpunished?
It was like the fog of irrational hatred cleared and it never happened.
It’s not right. How can they get away with this?
It may not be right...but it is sadly accurate. The victim gets chewed up and spat out on our social platforms…and then rapidly forgotten. We don’t see our own behaviour, our own hysteria, as part of the problem. It just happens for a moment and then it is gone. Like it never happened. The entertainment of it all finished so we move on, absolved of any responsibility for it all. The victim lucky if they are embraced back into the community.
These reflections are intensely uncomfortable. I don’t like how they make me feel. Don’t like that I see that I am a part of all that.
I much prefer the feeling I had when I watched the group in complex and profound cooperation. Which is where they were for the majority of the performance.
It was like watching a scene from a nature documentary. Calming. The natural world in harmony.
Colossus did that thing where performance morphs beyond entertainment into sense making. It helped me see something about myself and the worlds I inhabit.
Even though I was unsettled by some of what it had to say I am pleased that I live in a culture that gave space for this voice.
I feel richer this morning for that experience.
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