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Meeting review at Battersea Arts Centre, London – ‘calm and hypnotic’

Antony Hamilton and Alisdair Macindoe  in Meeting at Battersea Arts Centre, London. Photo: Gregory Lorenzutti
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One of the few dance pieces at this year’s LIFT festival, this hypnotic piece by Australian dancers Alisdair Macindoe and Antony Hamilton is a meeting of biology and technology.

Meeting is a cyborg of a show in which 64 identical robotic contraptions with pencils sticking out of the end (built by Macindoe) are arranged in a circle on the floor. The pencils tap the floor with a gentle clatter while the performers move in response.

At first, this seems like a simple piece – calm, repetitive and dimly lit, its slowness allowing us to take in the details of the percussive robots and the abstract robotic dance moves known as ‘popping’. But the stripped-back concept exposes the show’s many complexities, all the minute moments where technology and nature meet.

This circle is like a ticking clock, the slowing, speeding fluid motions accentuating and elongating the passage of time. Emphasising the mortality of humans against the insistent longevity of inanimate machines.

Macindoe and Hamilton are skilled dancers who turn human gestures into robotic movements, converging towards tech, while the machines take on the unpredictable qualities of nature, building until they patter on the floor with the randomness of rain.

The performers count out pencil beats in increasingly, impossibly quick succession until the rapid string of numbers sounds like lines of computer code or the digits of pi. It’s mesmerising.

The final few minutes, however, feel unnecessarily prolonged without adding to the show and, although technically impressive – and despite the human presence on stage – there isn’t much heart here. Still, this piece lives in its details. It’s about the slow formation of rhythm into music and of movement into dance.

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Human dancers and robotic machines meet in this ​hypnotic ​ Australian dance piece