Entertainment Hive 2017

Meryl Tankard returns to Adelaide with The Oracle

By Honey B

Iconic choreographer Meryl Tankard has caught lightning in a bottle in her latest dance piece, The Oracle. The well-deserved success couldn't be more sweetly surprising for the ever humble Tankard who brings this critically acclaimed, powerful work to Adelaide for four shows only from August 20 to 23. "The path that we took to create this work has turned out to be really amazing and exciting and it has made life very interesting,'' Tankard says. "What is really funny is that I was supposed to be working with a female dancer and not Paul (White) but our schedules didn't fit and so I found Paul. "The piece started as a little creative development from a $2000 grant which was enough to pay Paul and a couple of dancers and we just went from there. "It was pure experimentation and what was also amazing was the fact that I had the time to experiment and didn't have to go by a deadline or timeframe.'' The other pieces to this extraordinary work include Tankard's collaborator, visual artist Regis Lansac, the paintings of Norwegian artist, Odd Nerdrum and Stravinsky's iconic piece of music, The Rite of Spring. "Paul is just amazing to work with and he loves to be challenged. He just eats up every direction and he is big and strong but he also has this feminine side to him - I love that contrast. "Regis had been filming and Paul was doing these movements like an earthquake and he had been playing with his body shapes and the music The Rite of Spring just pushed itself on me. "It turned out if we sped the movement up six seconds that every move was a perfect fit for The Rite of Spring. I never wanted to do the Rite because it was so associated with Pina (Bausch).'' The infamous ballet The Rite of Spring caused riots at its Paris premiere in 1913 and 100 years later, Tankard says the fervour is just the same. "We were in London last year for the 100th anniversary of The Rite of Spring and the night before we went on we actually heard the London Philharmonic Orchestra playing it live next door. "We got so nervous and I remember that Paul had come from Australia and he was sick and vomiting. "We only had one night and we had 1000 seats and I thought the critics were going to kill me - they are so critical in London and there is just this feeling that you are never supposed to touch The Rite of Spring. "The night came and people were absolutely fighting to get into these seats and they were arguing but then we got these fantastic reviews and we had such a warm feeling from the orchestra that it was just lovely and really brilliant.'' Tankard says the thought did cross her mind that the show should be performed with an orchestra. "Dancing with an orchestra is how the show should be done and when we did our American tour in Denver we had this very famous youth orchestra play live and it was amazing. "Funnily enough the recording of The Rite of Spring that we use for The Oracle is of the London Philharmonic - it's very weird all of these coincidences.'' The Oracle has toured previously to the USA, Switzerland, France, and throughout Australia to rave reviews, and also received Best Choreography and Outstanding Performance by a Male Dancer at the 2010 Australian Dance Awards. The Oracle, Adelaide Festival Centre, Dunstan Playhouse, August 20 to 23. Bookings: BASS 131 246
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