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The Other Side of Me - Gary Lang NT Dance Company

Updated: May 6

Reviewed by Hannah Goodman


Reviewer Note: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander audiences are advised that this show references people who have died.

The Other Side of Me, brought to the stage by NT Dance Company in conjunction with Northumbria University (UK), explores Stolen Generations trauma felt by a young man torn from his family in 1960s Northern Territory – adopted by a white family and taken to the UK, far removed from his community and culture.

Based on a true story taken from personal letters and poems, this provocative piece choreographed by Gary Lang (Larrakia) follows two sides of the same man – stuck between two families, cultures and countries. Throughout this performance, the audience was witness to the loss and rediscovering of this man’s identity. His identity split was personified and performed by Tyrel Dulvarie (Kimuy) and Alexander Abbot.

Within the space of 45 minutes, these two performers were remarkable in their ability to convey a diverse repertoire of deep emotions representing this man’s innermost thoughts, all without speaking a single word. The audience was privy to moments that were deep and at times dark, and

the emotion conveyed was palpable.

Dulvarie and Abbot demonstrated great technique, and their artistry is not to be missed. Sometimes with performances of contemporary dance, you’re not sure what kind of contemporary you’re going to get – this performance showcased a range, literally toeing the line between the stronger, more abstract contemporary, and the grace of lyrical dance. The integration of traditional Aboriginal dance was powerful and made clear the intrinsic role of dance within Aboriginal culture. Something that really stuck with me was how strong, yet graceful and fluid the performers were. Their synchronicity, with both the music and each other, was impressive – you can tell these performers have trained for some time. This duet moved from being gentle and delicate at times to a heaviness charged with anger and confusion at others. Dulvarie and Abbot glided across the floor, making floorwork look effortless.

The evolution of emotions throughout this piece married well with the lighting and audiovisual effects, which were simple but effective. The music ranged from smooth strings to a jarring synthesiser, but it matched the energy of the performers well. This did mean at times the sound effects and music were a bit intense in terms of volume and pitch. It was clear this was designed to make the audience feel uncomfortable in keeping with certain parts of the narrative, but it may be a bit overwhelming for those who are sensitive to loud sounds or high frequencies. However, when focusing on the storyline alone, I do think these effects were well-placed. The stage was quite simple with minimal props, but this let all attention fall on the performers. Costuming was also minimal but very effective. Dulvarie and Abbot wore prison jumpsuits, making slight adjustments as the two sides of the one man slowly became apparent. The use of white body paint was so very powerful, and this ornamenting of the body enriched the section of dancing that followed.

The performance ended with the darkening of the stage and projection of selected photos from the period of the Stolen Generations, reminding the audience that whilst this performance follows a fictional storyline, it is based on very real events.

I noticed at one point that some audience members in front of me were literally on the edge of their seats – a good indicator of how engrossing this performance was. If you’re looking for the perfect melding of strong dance technique and a narrative that may challenge you to view something from a completely different perspective – I would highly recommend The Other Side of Me.

Tyrel Dulvarie and Alexander Abbot. Image Credit - Sam James

Reviewer Note: Tickets for this review were provided by the theatre company.



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