Michelle Barnett in Expressions Dance Company's When Time Stops.
Michelle Barnett in Expressions Dance Company's When Time Stops. Chris Herzfeld

When Time Stops: a spectacle of time manifested in dance

WITH an opening sequence as powerful, dynamic and engaging as in When Time Stops, it's difficult to believe anything that follows can be as gripping.

But as with all Expressions Dance Company offerings, it becomes abundantly clear there is much more in store.

When Time Stops explores the memories that gush back in life's final moments - from the first kiss to heartache to tragedy and friendship.

Some moments are intensely dramatic at a quickened pace and others savoured in slow motion.

Brilliantly choreographed to give the appearance of fast-forward and rewind sequences used in film, Natalie Weir has effectively illustrated time through dance.

Lead dancer Michelle Barnett shines throughout the hour-long production at QPAC's Playhouse theatre.

Expressions Dance Company's When Time Stops.
Expressions Dance Company's When Time Stops. Chris Herzfeld

As well as great strength and fluidity in her movement, she expertly exudes the emotion needed to bring this non-linear piece together.

Sometimes directly experiencing the memory and other times observing events others experienced, she is always present on stage.

Thomas Gundry Greenfield's constant presence on stage as The Ferryman, not unlike his role as The Man in EDC's 7 Deadly Sins, is also palpable.

Always there ready to transport a person's soul to safety and set it free, he is both a comfort and a dread.

Guest dancer Xiao Zhiren, who was also involved in EDC's Chinese collaboration Black earlier in the year, makes an impression from the moment his solo piece begins.

Like the flame of a candle flickering, his fluid shapes underline years of practice in body control.

His Last Kiss piece with Barnett challenges traditional gender roles in dance, and in life, as she shares the lifts and partially leads during their duet.

Benjamin Chapman never fails to deliver strength and emotion - from the joy of the first kiss sequence with Rebecca Hall to the violence and tragedy he helps portray with Barnett and Jake McLarnon during their trio.

McLarnon has tough shoes to fill in replacing Jack Ziesing, who has now left the dance company, but he has the charisma and skill to make the role sing.

The artful way he manoeuvres the dancers is impressive, lifting them gracefully in such slow movements that belies the strength involved.

None of this would be possible without musical mastery from Camerata of St John's.

Violins, violas, cellos and double bass take the audience on a journey through the highs and lows of Barnett's memories.

From a high-pitched frenzy to a dull groan, these artists added another level of emotion to each scene, especially with their presence among the dancers for various scenes.

EDC chief Libby, who this week announced her departure to pursue other challenges, cheered loudly from the crowd as her dancers bowed to the audience on their final night of the season.

When Time Stops is now over this season but keep an eye out for Expressions Dance Company's next offering.