Cut The Sky – ArtsHub – Carol Flavell Neist

Seventy minutes of mind-blowing intercultural and interdisciplinary performance!

This was a huge endeavour, involving many, many people. The six performers were just the tip of an enormous iceberg, although when considering a work created by people whose home is in the desert, perhaps iceberg is an inappropriate metaphor.

The company, collectively called Marrugeku, hails from the north-west of Australia, where, as the program notes tell us, ‘desert meets sea, black meets white, Australia meets Asia, and cultures twine, fuse and morph’. That neatly sums up the Marrugeku experience.

Cut the Sky is based on a modern-day dreaming story of gas buried deep in the north-west. A huge mining device is the only ‘set’, a constant reminder of the intrusion of the mining industry into the lives and legends of the north-west people. The gas is personified as Dungkaba, Poison Woman, via a poem by key performer Edwin Lee Mulligan. Mulligan is already known as an artist but is obviously a poet and dancer of no mean talent as well.

Storms and cyclones are another unavoidable part of living in the north-west, and the dancers skilfully move back and forth between being humans affected by the storm and being the storm itself. Involving film and vocal music, some of it live on stage, and clever effects including a curtain of rain, Cut the Sky kept the audience spellbound.

These are seriously gifted performers of admirable intensity and commitment. Mulligan’s verse, together with the music of Ngaiire, gave as much to the performance as the choreography. Mention must also be made of clever violin-playing, singing dancer, Eric Avery and of Josh Mu’s athletic dancing.

This has to be one of the most successful works of many that have sought to bring Australian ethnic dance and music to the stage.

Bravo, Marrugeku.

Rating: 4 ½ stars out of 5