★★★★☆ An emotionally wrought and creatively agile pair of dance world premieres.

The Substation, Melbourne
June 29, 2016

A convulsing form emerges from the darkness. The shivering tremors of anxious impulses and exposed nerves contort this figure as he writhes across the space. This body has been hijacked; a man made marionette, forced into twisted, agonising shapes by some unseen puppet master. It feels like a violation, or perhaps a punishment, and yet there is a wrought beauty in these tortured seizures. Beneath this jerking silhouette is a fluidity; a volute elegance encased in a seething mass.  

The abrasive conflict between the vulnerable and the visceral provides an intensely affecting energy for choreographer Ross McCormack’s If Form Was Shifted. The first of two new works presented by Queensland-based dance company Dancenorth, both these pieces have been constructed around a specific set of parameters, prescribing the lighting, sound and costume; an experiment exploring the creative discourse between invention and limitation.

The language of McCormack’s piece is hewn from a sophisticated understanding of emotion, expressed through a lexicon of textured, pin-sharp detail. Every sinew of the five dancers is engaged, as they swarm and fracture, the...