Dance Review: King (Seymour Centre, Sydney) ★★★★★

There is magic here. Choreographer Shaun Parker’s collaboration with composer and vocalist Ivo Dimchev has produced something truly luscious to behold in King, newly relaunched work at Sydney’s Seymour Centre.

The group dynamics of men, sexuality and masculinity are illustrated and deconstructed in Parker’s kinetic and humorous piece. With a company made up of a diverse group of dancers, Parker plays with power structures in all-male settings, blending dance styles together in a work that never stops or fails to demand your attention. 

King. Photo credit: Prudence Upton.

The curtain opens to reveal a jungle of deep green foliage (the show credits Horticultural Consultant and Jungle Designer Penny Hunstead for the succulent work), a single chandelier hangs from the ceiling. As Dimchev sings, the Shaun Parker Company takes to the stage in black tie. Over the course of the show this veneer of civilization is stripped away to reveal the primal nature of man. There are fights for dominance, acts of affection, longing and leadership.

King. Photo credit: Prudence Upton.

King celebrates individuality among its performers rather than rigid conformity. There is a fluidity to this troupe of dancers that merge and separate. Different body types blend together in playful and aggressive ways. The influence of hip-hop choreography is felt strongly though the piece for both its machismo and wit. By the time dancer Toby Derrick walks through the auditorium proudly naked, asserting his dominance over the others, things take a darker tone.

King. Photo credit: Prudence Upton.

As Dimchev sings, providing a live score as well as being part of the movement, the richness and diversity of his voice fills the space. If you’re unfamiliar with this queer Bulgarian star, his voice is reminiscent of ANOHNI and is a wonder to experience live. The juxtaposition of Dimchev’s vocals and lyrics about love and desire, and the movement of the dancers adds layers of complexity. There is a tenderness to the performance, mixed with a sly flippancy that surprises and entertains.

King is a gorgeous evening of dance theatre that is well worth this revival. Its dissection of masculinity, homophobia and power is as bold as it is beautiful.

By Chad Armstrong

King runs at Seymour Centre from February 28th – March 4th, in association with Sydney WorldPride. Click here for tickets and more information.

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