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Stunning beauty and intense power: Gloria

Gloria, presented by Co3 Contemporary Dance Australia, is an exhilarating experience that leaves audiences stunned by its intense power and beauty.

This piece is more than a restaging of a beautiful production; it’s a tribute to its iconic choreographer Douglas Wright. Having been a dancer in Gloria as well as Wright’s mentee, presenting Gloria was an obvious choice for Co3’s Artistic Director Raewyn Hill. Wright’s close associates Megan Adams (Stager) and Ann Dewey (Artistic Advisor) are also part of this creative team alongside dancers from former Gloria productions. This expert knowledge and personal connection to the piece, and its chorographer, translates on stage with evident care and dedication to the perfection of all elements.  

GLORIA by Douglas Wright (2022) Co3 Contemporary Dance.  Photo: Shotweiler Photography

The dancers exude passion through Wright’s joyous choreography which pushes them to physical extremes. As they spin and leap through the air there’s a sense of release and freedom that’s intoxicating to watch. Partnership is key between the dancers. In a physical sense, one wrong move could send someone spinning off stage. While in a psychological sense, the work demands a certain headspace and one person not being in that zone could compromise the collective. While the choreography is joyful and its airborne qualities are uplifting, it is not a one note piece. It has layers that have darker and grittier qualities adding an extra level of complexity and intrigue to the work. 

The need for great partnership also extends to the relationship between the musicians and the dancers. Making their State Theatre Centre debut, the West Australian Symphony Orchestra plays live alongside the St Georges Cathedral Consort. This is the first time Gloria has been performed with live music. Wright’s choreography makes complete sense with Vivaldi, there’s a perfect synergy between the music and dance. The full sound of the orchestra and consort combined is simply incredible.

GLORIA by Douglas Wright (2022) Co3 Contemporary Dance.  Photo: Shotweiler Photography

Alison James’ original costume design and Mark Haslam’s lighting are the design focal points against the black box stage. Haslam’s lighting is precise and creates a sense of warmth and intimacy between the stage and audience. James’ costume design has certainly stood the test of time and presents beautifully under Haslam’s lights.

Audiences of Gloria are also treated to a curtain raiser, A Trio created and performed by Raewyn Hill and Link Dance Company’s Micheal Whaites, who are accompanied live by Concertmaster of WASO Laurence Jackson. Set to Bach’s Partita for Solo Violin, this piece reflects Hill’s dedication to honouring the legacy of dancers across generations in her work. The dance moves between recreations of significant images taken from throughout Hill and Whaites’ careers, creating another beautiful and cohesive tribute performance that fits well with the tone of Gloria.

A Trio (2022) Co3 Contemporary Dance.  Photo: Shotweiler Photography

Co3’s production of Gloria is a reminder of how special collaboration is and the magic that can happen when people are brought together to share in a joint passion. I can safely say this magic and a sense of awe was felt across the audience, with collective gasps and goosebumps experienced by all.

Gloria presented by Co3 Contemporary Dance Company is on now through to Sep 18 at the Heath Ledger Theatre.