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Botanica: A riotous celebration of nature

Words by: Geoff Ferres
Photography by: Max Pucciariello

A riotous celebration of nature is in full flight at the Melbourne Arts Centre, courtesy of the MOMIX dance company’s Botanica dance spectacular. One of this 30 year old North American dance company’s most successful shows, the Melbourne season is one of two Botanica productions currently touring world wide.

More a collection of loosely aligned themes than a unified narrative, Botanica explores and interprets the richness of the natural world. The rude glory of life in all its forms are shaped by sun, water and wind – in an explosion of organic colour and movement. The passage of time is expressed on daily, seasonal, lifetime and evolutionary scales but the patterns are surprising, unpredictable and non-linear. The raw subject matter has the makings of a theatrical documentary but Botanica is never that … it’s a bizarre abstraction of documentary highlights, played in fast forward to an eclectic and engaging score.

The cast are young, fun and energetic, full of inspired movement and energy. Brilliant solo performances are interspersed with the whole of cast spectaculars. Sometimes the cast are front and centre, sometimes hidden – moving shapes that are mere hints of the personalities beneath. The performance merges mediums in intense dramatic synergy: dance, illusion, acrobatics, costume, mirrors, projections, puppets, stage-long sheets and high-contrast dark stage effects are sewn into a mesmerising spell. Props are used sparingly and effectively, amplifying the physical presence of the dancers into space, owning the stage with dynamic shape, flow and movement. Costumes span functional, elegant and surreal ensembles, morphing from the human to plant and animal forms.

Botanica is a magical experience, both delightful and confounding. Highly recommended.

Botanica is on at the Melbourne Arts Centre from Wednesday 7 – Sunday 11 August in the State Theatre.

Food in pictures

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