Dancing up a storm

THE devastating effects of climate change are explored in the dance-apocalypse Kwongkan.

Created over three years, and influenced by sacred sites in remote Australia and tropical India, the Perth Festival show is a dazzling mix of hope and fear.

Many saw the collaboration between WA’s Ochre Contemporary Dance Company and India’s Daksha Sheth Dance Company as a chance to create something hopeful, but Ochre director Mark Howett wasn’t having any of it.

“We need to shock people into how bad climate change is…shock them out of their complacency.”

• Famed Bollywood dancer Isha Sharvani in the dance-apocalypse Kwongan.


The mix of live music, son et lumiere, dance and arial acrobatics is laden with ceremony and destruction.

“As we began our creative development, the effects on both our cultures from climate change, like the floods in Kerala in India and Australian droughts, permeated the room,” Howett says.

“It led us to believe that we needed to shout against the oncoming calamities for the sake of our children and our children’s children.”

• No cheesy feel-goods for Mark Howett: “We need to shock people into how bad climate this is.”

Fossil fuels are a major contributor to climate change, but money talks and governments are failing to take action as the “conservatives” assert “the next generation will fix the problem”, he says.

“It’s all down to greed. They will kill their kids with greed; it’s not conservatism.”

Daksha is one of India’s leading dance companies and it was at the Perth Festival where director Daksha Sheth first met Howett.

Her children, renowned Bollywood actress Isha Sharvani and composer Tao Issaro, perform in Kwongkan, and husband Dev Issaro designed the production.

• Tao Issaro, Isha Sharvani, Mark Harman and Daksha Sheth director Daksha Sheth in Perth.

Local performers and choreographers in the show include award-winning dancer Ian Wilkes, Phil Thomson, Nadia Martich and Kate Harman.

Audiences are invited to arrive early so they can experience pre-performance rituals and become part of the unfolding narrative.

Kwongkan is on at the Fremantle Arts Centre, February 16-20. Tickets $45 at perthfestival.com.au


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