Dance, Features, News, Performance art, Performing arts, Physical theatre

A future that looks like the past?

Described as a one-woman, one-Roomba show, Future’s Eve will also feature a paddling pool, breakfast made live on stage and lasers, according to its maker and performer, Michelle Aitken. The Perth-based independent dance artist took some time out to tell us more about Future’s Eve and the path that’s led her to creating a work that asks why our vision of the future looks so much like the past.

Michelle Aitken

Seesaw: When did you first know that you wanted to be an artist?
Michelle Aitken: I don’t know when I decided to chase arts as a career. I was aiming to do something creative at high-school and, having not really danced before, fell into the ballet program because it meant I didn’t have to do phys ed…

I remember saying quite early on that maybe I could do dance as a career and my mum just laughing. And I don’t think I was serious at that point, but I never stopped thinking that, and maybe it’s happened.

S: Where did you train?
MA: After dancing at school and as part of STEPS Youth Dance Company, I went to WAAPA for three years to do the contemporary dance course. I graduated in 2016 with a BA (Dance). Since then, I’ve learned about who I am as an artist by doing a lot of things for the first time in a professional context. I recently performed in Unveiling: Gay Sex For Endtimes, where I had to learn to juggle wearing a full head latex locust mask and nine inch heels, while naked, while wielding a microphone on a lead, sexy dancing, and (most terrifyingly for a dancer) using my voice. In a lot of ways that show is the most challenging thing I’ve done. It’s also probably shaped my practice the most. I wouldn’t be making Future’s Eve without everything I’ve done since leaving uni.

Michelle Aitken in ‘Unveiling: Gay Sex For Endtimes’.

S: Are you new to Fringe World?
MA: No! I made my first show Milk, Moonlight for Fringe last year, as part of the double bill “Topographs”, at The Blue Room Theatre Summer Nights.

S: Tell us about Future’s Eve, your 2018 Fringe show!
MA: Future’s Eve is about women and the techno-scientific future. Between sex robots, developments in AI, and sci-fi images in pop culture, the majority of female-appearing robots fulfil stereotypically female roles: as receptionists and aged care workers, as the voices of our digital assistants, and as hyper-sexualised objects. So I wanted to ask, why does this vision of our possible future look so much like the past? And how can we think about shaping a more equal future?

The show itself is not actually a dance show – I’d call it an experimental performance. Expect me dressed in full body lycra, a Roomba, a paddling pool, breakfast made live on stage, lasers, popping balloons… It’s got this DIY futuristic vibe, it’s really fun to make, and I hope it’s ultimately thought provoking.

S: Aside from your show, what are you looking forward to seeing/doing at Fringe?
MA: I’m looking forward to catching all the other shows at Peaks, as well as heaps of other new works from local theatre makers! Off the top of my head, Squid Vicious’ godeatgod, Rhiannon Petersen’s The Big Dark, Bow & Dagger’s The Beast and the Bride, and as much contemporary dance as I can possibly fit in.

S: What is your favourite playground equipment?
MA: My favourite playground equipment would have to be the monkey bars. No reason. I like swinging around.

‘Future’s Eve’ plays Paper Mountain, 5-6 & 9-10 February, as part of Fringe World.

Top and above: Michelle Aitken. Photos: Marshall Stay

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