Neil Gooding Productions. (Packemin). Choreographer: Amy Campbell. Riverside Parramatta – 22-24, April 2022 – then touring NSW and Queenslan.

Reviewed : 22 April, 2022*

Photo : Grant Leslie Photography

It is Amy Campbell’s aim to make “art that entertains, enthrals and is accessible”. Leap is all of that and more. With Neil Gooding’s support, Campbell has ‘leapt’ into her imagination to create an exciting new production that surely achieves her aspiration.

Photo : Grant Leslie Photography

If “art” is “the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination in a visual form” (Oxford dictionary), then Campbell has expressed it strikingly. She has fused traditional and contemporary choreography with skilfully ‘re-imagined’ classical music, played live on a stage hung with multiple tendrils of silvery foliage under luminescent lighting that is colourfully atmospheric.

And if that sounds over effusive, I make no apologies, because Leap “enthrals” via the complexity of the choreography and the textural tempos of the music. Just as the Toccato that opens and closes the production shows the skill and dexterity of the composer, so Campbell has devised a suite that explores and exposes her own skill, and the talents and expertise of the performers.

Photo : Grant Leslie Photography

All ten dancers – Ashley Goh, Callum Mooney, Cassandra Merwood, Felicia Stavropoulos, Maikolo Fekitoa, Natalie Foti, Neven Connolly, Shontaya Smedley, Jervis Livelo and Ryan Ophel – are soloists in their own right, and they are given many opportunities to show that. But they also work together brilliantly in pairs or small groups, or as an ensemble, to tell the stories that Campbell and musical associate Victoria Falconer have synthesised into the intricate, composite piece of theatre that is Leap.

Photo : Grant Leslie Photography

Classical and contemporary dance can work together in so many ways, despite what ‘purists’ might say – see Hamilton, see the Australian Ballet’s next production Kunstkamer.  Both are dependent on symmetry and precision. Both reach specifically to the audience in their own way. Put them together to much loved music – Beethoven, Bach, Vivaldi, Debussy, Rimsky-Korsakov – that has been tweaked, re-envisaged then played by four modern virtuosos, and you have an exciting theatrical fusion of movement and sound that transcends traditional expectations, and is totally “accessible”.

Photo : Grant Leslie Photography

Add a dramatic set and a spectacular light show designed by Richard Neville of Mandylights, and the production becomes even more exhilarating. Imagine successive curtains of hanging cord threaded with pieces of silvery foil, shimmering and reflecting. Imagine them refracting the beams from multiple strips of coloured light angled above and behind. It’s hard to describe the real effect but it is breath-taking – and adds contour and counter-point to the movement.

This awe-inspiring production moves out of Parramatta after 4 days into a three month tour, taking the cast and musicians north along the NSW coast from Wyong to Grafton, then on to Queensland, culminating in a performance in Mackay on 2nd July.

What a great opportunity for audiences starved of live entertainment for two Covid-long years to see a production that literally sparkles in so many ways.

Also published in Stage Whispers magazine.

*Opening Night

Tour details

      • Parramatta (NSW) – 22-24 April
      • Wyong (NSW) – 27-29 April
      • Newcastle (NSW) – 7-8 June
      • Port McQuarie (NSW) – 10 June
      • Grafton (NSW) – 14 June
      • Gold Coast (Qld)- 17-18 June
      • Sunshine Coast (Qld)- 22 June
      • Toowoomba (Qld) – 24 June
      • Maryborough (Qld) – 26 June
      • Bundaberg (Qld) – 28 June
      • Rockhampton (Qld)  – 30 June
      • Mackay (Qld) – 2 July