Tragédie, choreographed by Olivier Dubois | Directed by Olivier Dubois

Carriageworks | Carriageworks, Redfern, Sydney | Until

Olivier Dubois is the director of Ballet du Nord. He made his début as a professional dancer at age 23 and since then has worked in many arenas — Las Vegas and Cirque du Soleil to name just two. He was also named one of the 25 top dancers in the world by the magazine Dance Europe. In recent years he has turned his hand/feet to choreography.

Dubois brings to Australia his recent work, Tragédie, the conclusion of a trilogy that centres on the themes of resistance and insurrection, inspired by Nietzsche’s The Birth of Tragedy. In turn, the German philosopher drew on Greek tragedy and its role in affirming the meaning of existence.

The dance begins with a monotone drum beat, continuous and unchanging. From behind a transparent black curtain, at the back of the stage, a persona strides downstage. The lighting is dim but the figure is naked and when the apron of the space is reached the character sharply turns and returns to the curtain.

This arrangement is continually repeated as numbers swell and sequences are made and eventually, as the lights lift, we are able to delineate the shapes, gender and individuality of the dancers.

There are 18 dancers in all, each gender represented equally. Repeated movements are structured and arranged carefully to suggest controlled order. This lengthy establishing section enables the audience to adjust to mass nudity and become familiar with the physical appearance of each dancer — this, after, all being the only delineating factor.

Eventually the dancers do begin to diverge and, as the synchronisation fragments, there is a gradual decline into disorder, eventually climaxing into frenzied writhing, accompanied predictably by strobe lighting.

Bodies struggle, flay and flounder on the floor, suggesting a Dionysian orgy accompanied by a furious and manic soundtrack.

The dancers are faultless and Dubois’ work is purposeful in its attempt to explore the transcendent liberation of dance.

There is even a coda, courtesy of Dionysus, who believed that in order to achieve salvation one must immerse oneself in life now! However, the establishing section, lacking any conventional choreography seemed eternally long.

This is a brave and deceptively complex production, intimating important concerns but catering perhaps to a niche audience.