MindCon is the first work presented by Mitch Harvey Company in conjunction with CO3 Contemporary Dance, and explores themes of power, resistance and rebellion. Set against the cool concrete of the old Continental food warehouse, the night started with a beautiful Welcome to Country by Nyoongar Elder, Uncle Vaughn McGuire. Standing in the shadows of a towering concrete monolith (created by visual artist Jackson Harvey), Uncle McGuire spoke passionately about the concepts of time and self, reminding us that prior to invasion, neither was as clear cut as we now make them to be – a fitting lesson to remember when faced with the themes of the stunning performance that was about to unfold.
As audience members perambulated around the structures, four in total, this writer was reminded of Stonehenge, the Wailing Wall, The Kaaba, Uluru, all sacred sites that hold secrets of times long past. This is a set that taps into a primal urge: to gather, to witness a story unfold, something that Set Designer Jackson Harvey should be incredibly proud of. The lights fade to black and gritty, bassy electronic music floods the space, bouncing off the structures as flood lights illuminate the bare stage.
We are introduced to the dystopian dream world of the performer. Mercenary? Fugitive? Lost soul? This is left to the audience’s imagination. We watch as this John Doe, played by Harvey, battles it out with the forces around him, gliding, hiding, falling, sometimes almost flying across the cold warehouse floor – hardly stopping for breath between movements, the tension between performer and performance space is palpable.
While it may be a stretch to label the work interactive, there were moments where barriers between audience and performer became non existent, and where the reaction of audience members felt like an extension of the performance itself. This was a deliberate choice by Harvey, who not only choreographed and performed the piece but also devised and directed it. In his words the choice to “immerse the audience in the action by way of inviting them into the performance space and allowing them to explore the set, to help them find a point of sanctuary and understanding…of this precarious place on the verge of the unknown.”
There is so much to love about MindCon: the stunning sound design evoking the best of Berlin’s underground electronic scene, created by composer and collaborator Louis Frere-Harvey was a treat to take in, while the lighting design by Nemo Gandossini-Poirier perfectly elevated the emotions in each segment of movement. And then, there was the performer himself. Watching Mitchell Harvey interact with his space, the music, and the lighting was a near cinematic experience. The timing and precision of his movement helped carry the dystopian narrative perfectly, with time itself feeling like an illusion during the piece, with 45 minutes rolling by as easily as five.
A daring and energetic work, MindCon is a must see for anyone wanting more from contemporary dance.