How do you stay connected with your history, culture, and inner-spiritual self, especially as a member of one of the oldest cultures in the world when that world is changing at breakneck speed? Common Dissonance attempts to answer this dilemma through a combination of circus and contemporary dance.

As performed by First Nations led Na Djinang Circus, Common Dissonance is an intimate show held in the Ukiyo theatre. With just two performers – Dylan and Isabelle – with minimal props in a small circular space, the show uses stark, focussed lighting to keep the spotlight firmly on the movement of said performers.

Common Dissonance relies more on contemporary dance than circus to tell its story, which serves its narrative well. There are times where Dylan and Isabelle’s movements are in sync and demonstrate a closeness and harmony, while at other times, especially with Dylan, he is pushing Isabelle away, demonstrating the struggle with modern identity which is especially unique to those of a First Nations background. When circus is employed in the performance, it’s more about enhancing the narrative rather than showcasing death-defying acrobatics, which gives the show a point of difference compared with other circus-related shows. That said, there are definitely some elements near the end which showcase some almost painful (and definitely very precisely-timed) looking stunts, which, as an audience member being so close, I certainly felt included me in their narrative.

Ultimately, perhaps there is no real answer to how we can reconcile our spirituality with modern society, but there is an idea at the conclusion that we can find our own individual inner peace. Common Dissonance explores the  idea of a modern identity conundrum with a beautifully choreographed and intimate performance, showcasing some of the best Australia has to offer in contemporary dance and circus. 

Four stars

Common Dissonance is playing at Ukiyo at Gluttony until Sunday March 6th. Buy tickets here.