Le Dernier Appel
The dynamic Le Dernier Appel (The Last Cry) is set against the backdrop of New Caledonia’s forthcoming referendum, which will determine whether the one-time penal colony becomes independent of France. Holding approximately a quarter of the world’s nickel deposits, New Caledonia has a prosperous economy, however, the indigenous Kanaks are subject to economic exploitation and social discrimination.
Bringing together Kanak performers and dancers from the Broome-based Marrugeku Company with their similarly painful narratives of colonisation and the struggle for cultural recognition results in a powerful, anguished portrayal of both longing and frustration. The committed ensemble – Amrita Hepi, Yoan Ouchot, Krilin, Nguyen, Stanley Nalo, Dalisa Pigram and Miranda Wheen – are wonderfully agile and vigorous. Swooping, rolling, spinning, flailing, crouching, leaping, falling, rising, they are almost in perpetual motion for the entire 70 minutes of the performance.
For the most part, the dancers move separately, each within their own story, each manifesting a distinctive reaction to the trauma of oppression and denigration. Despair, madness, impotence, defiance, rage, resistance, violence are punctuated by moments of reflection, and sporadic interactions between groups or pairs. When, eventually, the ensemble comes together, and move in unison, the sense of their shared purpose is experienced like a blessing.
The passionate commitment of the dancers is well supported by the set design of Nicolas Mole, and the voice of singer/songwriter Ngaire. A video screen feeding information on the background to the Kanaks’ ongoing struggle for independence gives a sense of immediacy and poignancy to the sudden blackout that ends the performance. What lies ahead?