Features, News, Performing arts

Music Makes a Way

For 12 year old Armadale girl Anastacia Dawes life was a catastrophe. Much of her childhood had been spent managing diabetes, epilepsy, ADD and Tourette Syndrome. To top it off her mum was fighting cancer. She dreamed about studying singing at the WA Academy of Performing Arts but even getting to school was a challenge. It was hard  for Anastacia to talk about it, so instead she wrote a song.

“I’m livin’ a catastrophe, and life is gettin’ harder/I live it tough, everyday, it’s getting hard to see the other side…”

It is now 12 months later and Anastacia will be performing Catastrophe on Saturday night with the Perth Symphony Orchestra. It is a dream come true for the student from Challis Primary School and a direct result of the transformation that has taken place in the school since since the principal decided to introduce a music program.

Anastacia’s story came to light in the landmark ABC television documentary Don’t Stop the Music which screened in November. When conductor of the Perth Symphony Orchestra Jessica Gethin watched the documentary she was captivated by Anastacia’s singing.

Jessica Gethin meets Anastacia Dawes. Photo Belinda Sherry.

“Not only does she have an amazing voice and talent but the journey she’s had and the way she was able to translate that into music – she is a natural at it.”

At one particular moment in the documentary the Challis school choir visited WAAPA to hear Eneskis vocal ensemble perform. The camera caught the expression on Anastacia’s face when the ensemble started singing.

“There was this look wonderment on her face,” Gethin said. “I could see the experience was giving her hope and opportunity for her future. And it made me think we need to support her. It was an opportunity for all of us to see where things start and how important it is to nurture those beginnings so that people like Anastacia don’t fall through the cracks.”

Within two weeks the song had been arranged for orchestra by WAAPA students Corey Murphy and Callum O’Reilly and on Wednesday night Anastacia rehearsed the song with orchestra for the first time. Joining them on stage was Challis music teacher Simon Blanchard accompanying on guitar.

“I’ve gotta live my life to the full, and not be afraid to speak aloud” she sang from the stage. “I’m a girl ready to be me, it’s who I’m made to be.”

““It felt amazing,” Anastacia said afterwards. “I’ve loved singing since before I can remember and I am so lucky to have this opportunity.”

Anastacia Dawes with arrangers Corey Murphy and Callum O’Reilly, music teacher Simon Blanchard and Micheál McCarthy with Jessica Gethin rehearsing in the background. Photo Rosalind Appleby

In fact it was pure coincidence that Anastacia’s talent was discovered. Blanchard had been receiving coaching from WAAPA lecturer Micheál McCarthy who happened to overhear Anastacia singing. McCarthy organised an audition for her at a specialist music school.

“It was pure luck that I happened to hear her outside the music room that day,” McCarthy said. “If I hadn’t heard her that day she wouldn’t have featured in the documentary and she wouldn’t have got into Kelmscott Senior High School. I didn’t realise until I transcribed the song last week that the words were ‘Luck will arrive one day, maybe today’s the lucky day’.”

Anastacia Dawes. Photo Belinda Sherry

Anastacia’s mother Kelly Dawes  watched the rehearsal and said it was beyond her wildest dreams for her daughter.

“Anastacia’s confidence has gone up, she is more positive and relaxed and inspired. The impact on Challis Primary has been amazing. There are so many students from the school going into specialist music programs next year. Music should be in all the schools.”

Anastacia agrees. “Having music at school meant I was able to improve and singing in the choir meant I had to learn to work as a group. And when I sing in front of people it makes me calmer. Plus I met Micheál (McCarthy) and Guy Sebastian.”

Has her luck arrived?

“That moment has come. Mum hasn’t been in hospital for a long time. At school I have the best teachers and good friends. It is fun.”

Anastacia Dawes will perform Catastrophe with the Perth Symphony Orchestra Kwinana at the Tianqi Lithium Symphony Spectacular, on December 1. Don’t Stop the Music is an ABC documentary by Artemis Media available on iView.

Pictured top: Anastacia Dawes rehearses with the Perth Symphony Orchestra.

Please follow and like us:
Features, News, Opera, Perth Festival

Composer gives speech for the voiceless

Award-winning composer Cat Hope will give a voice to the silenced when she returns to Perth to present the annual Peggy Glanville-Hicks Address on Thursday. Hope is currently based in Melbourne where she is head of the Sir Zelman Cowan School of Music at Monash University. The visit will be the first of several Hope will make to her hometown in the coming months.

Glanville-Hicks had a stellar international career and the address named in her honour provides a platform to challenge the status quo and raise issues of importance in new music. Hope is a fitting choice for the address with industry experience as a performer, curator, academic and advocate for gender equality.

Speaking on the phone from Melbourne she outlined her plans to use the Glanville-Hicks address to discuss gender inequality in the music industry.

“Some in the industry believe that gender equality is not an issue but there is now evidence to confirm women and non-binary individuals do not experience the same access to opportunities as men working as music creators. I’ll present this data and also suggestions on how we can develop change.”

Composer Cat Hope. Photo supplied

Hope’s advocacy for women and non-binary artists was galvanised by observing the treatment of women in public life.

“Women like Julia Gillard, Gillian Triggs – women just doing their job – were attacked for reasons that had nothing to do with their work. I realised that Australians operate within a systemic hierarchical structure and the arts are included in that, even though we may think we are more collaborative or left-leaning. We need to change the way we think, talk about and commission compositions across the full range of society, from individuals at a ground level to government policies at a federal level.”

In a tangible demonstration of putting change into action, Hope’s address will include the performance of a new work commissioned from artists she would not normally work with. Melbourne metal singer Karina Utomo will perform a composition for voice and electronics created collaboratively by Hope and Polish-Australian composer Dobromila Jaskot.

Utomo will also be starring in Hope’s first opera Speechless, to be premiered in February as part of the Perth Festival. In Speechless Hope’s concern for issues of social justice take on a large scale, as befits a work in the genre of opera which historically often drew on the issues of the time. The score is derived from drawings and graphics extracted from the 2014 Human Rights Commission report, The Forgotten Children: National Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention.

“Speechless is my personal response to Australia’s refugee crisis. When it first happened I was devastated and felt so helpless. I wanted to use music to activate the issue.”

The opera retains the conventional structure of arias, recitative accompanied by orchestra but Hope expands the horizon of opera according to her experimental practice and philosophy of inclusivity.

Utomo will perform alongside experimental vocalist Sage Pbbbt, Iranian-born singer Tara Tiba, opera singer Judith Dodsworth and a combined community choir of 30 voices. The opera has no libretto, instead the four soloists and choir will sing wordlessly (think Ennio Morricone mixed with experimental singer Cathy Berberian) in a fitting homage to people whose voices are rendered silent through political means. Instead the narrative will unfold through the music which will be performed by the Australian Bass Orchestra, an ensemble of low pitched instruments such as cellos, double basses, bass guitars, bass winds and brass, bass drums and electronics.

Hope composes her music using graphic notation and the score for Speechless is derived from the format of The Forgotten Children report. The singers and musicians follow specific colours and literally ‘read’ the report, following the up or downward trajectory of graphs, children’s drawings and photos.

The process may be unusual and technical, but Hope says the experience for audiences will be exhilarating.

“People will be challenged but it is ultimately rewarding. We’ve heard a lot of words and seen a lot of images and I think Australians are suffering from compassion fatigue. I hope the opera might give people a different way to grapple with the issue.”

Perth audiences can have a preview of Hope’s compositional style performed by Utomo at the Peggy Glanville-Hicks address on Thursday night. Hope will also be performing with her award-winning ensemble Decibel on Monday night at the Subiaco Arts Centre. Since founding in 2009 the six-piece electro-acoustic ensemble has become something of an Australian institution, renowned for their pioneering work with graphic notation and their commitment to commissioning Australian composers. The Decibel concert explores the vinyl record as a sound source, musical instrument and score.

The Peggy Glanville-Hicks Address is November 29. Decibel’s Revolution concert is December 3. Speechless will run February 26 until March 3.

Picture top: singer Karina Utomo. Photo: Paul Tadday.

 

 

Please follow and like us:
Three people lie on their backs on the floor. They look like a mother, toddler daughter and feather. They are making shapes with their hands.
Features, Film, News

Bite-sized Festival film samples

While it’s still a few months until the bulk of the Perth Festival kicks off, the Lotterywest Film season is about to commence. Wondering what to see? For your convenience, Mark Naglazas has put together a tasting plate of some of the morsels on offer in the first half of the Festival’s film program.

The Perth Festival outdoor film season has always been a balancing act. On the one hand there is the commitment to bringing local audiences a sampling of the best of international cinema (often hot off the European or North American festival circuit); on the other there’s the demand to fill the coffers, the necessity of supporting the summertime arts bonanza’s less lucrative offerings by padding the program with crowd-pleasers.

The first half of the 2018/19 line-up is no exception. There are new works from celebrated auteurs – such as Pawel Pawlikowski’s Cold War, the follow-up to his critically acclaimed post-Holocaust drama Ida, and Iranian master Asghar Farhadi’s first Spanish foray with Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem – leavened with enough feel-good flicks to make you forget you’re sitting in chairs that every summer keep chiropractors across the Western suburbs busy.

A woman and man look at each other against a soft focus cityscape.
Qualities from both sides of the ledger: ‘An Unexpected Love’ is the first cab off the rank for the Perth Festival film line-up.

Astutely, Perth Festival film programmer Tom Vincent is kicking off this year’s event with a comedy-romance from Argentina, An Unexpected Love, that boasts qualities drawn from both sides of the ledger.

It is about a pair of empty nesters (played by Mercedes Moran and Ricardo Darin) who, out of fear of impending boredom (as opposed to present-tense misery), mutually agree to dissolve their union.

Ana, the more restless of the two, immediately hooks up with an old flame before moving on to a creepy perfume salesman (getting comfortable, for this oddball Salvador Dali lookalike, means slipping out of his clothes while Ana is in the bathroom) and ultimately a work colleague; while her somewhat shy ex, Marcos, has an ill-fated first date with a sexually voracious alpha female dentist… that ends in an ambulance ride to the hospital.

The middle portion of An Unexpected Love is as breezy as you might expect from such a set-up – and, of course, it’s in keeping with the long Lotterywest Films tradition of beginning the season with something easy to digest, along with the wine and cheese.

However, it is bookended by several extended dialogue scenes that dig deep into the lows and highs of long-term relationships that push it out of familiar rom-com territory into a more challenging space, with Moran and Darin (well-known to local audiences for the classy 2009 romantic thriller The Secret in Their Eyes) giving lovely performances, infusing their characters with world-weariness and romantic and sexual yearning.

A line-up of middle aged men in bathers and swimming caps, at the edge of a swimming pool.
Refloating their soggy lives: men in various states of disarray take up synchronised swimming in ‘Sink or Swim’.

Also on the lighter side of the ledger is Gilles Lellouche’s star-laden French hit Sink or Swim, a Full Monty-ish comedy about a group of men in various states of disarray and despair, who set about refloating their soggy lives through the unlikeliest of means – synchronised swimming. The cast is headed by the wonderful Matthew Almaric and the pool is filled with some of France’s finest actors, so a few ripples of laughter, if not waves, are guaranteed.

Curiously, Sink or Swim is screening just months after an English-language version of the same story played during the recently ended British Film Festival (both, it seems, were inspired by the 2010 Swedish documentary Men Who Swim). Where next for the burgeoning sub-genre in which men in crisis pick themselves up through off-beat activities. Form a sewing circle? Catwalk modelling? The wackier the better.

A woman carries a painting under one arm, against a soft focus garden setting. She looks soulful.
‘One Last Deal’. Photo: Cata Portin.

Indeed, men in crisis is one of the major themes of the first half of this year’s program (Vincent will announce the rest of the line-up in coming months). In Arctic, by Brazilian video auteur Joe Penna, Mads Mikkelsen plays a researcher-explorer who fights for survival in a frozen wilderness; in One Last Deal (from Finland) an elderly art dealer on the verge or retirement makes one last attempt at making real money, and reconnecting with his estranged family, by selling what he believes to be a masterpiece; and in At Eternity’s Gate the American artist-turned-filmmaker Julian Schnabel (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly) brings us his portrait of tortured Dutch genius Vincent van Gogh (Venice Film Festival winner Willem Dafoe heads a splendid cast that also includes Mikkelsen, as well as Oscar Isaac).

While these Euro-American dramas are centred on the struggles of men, Shoplifters, from Japanese master Hirokazu Kore-Eda, is about an impoverished family who supplement their modest income by stealing stuff, diddling social security and, in the case of father Osamu’s sister-in-law, dressing up as a schoolgirl for sex shop voyeurs.

After a decade or more of celebrated films (several of which have played at Perth Festival) Kore-Eda won the Palm d’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. Make no mistake: Shoplifters will be slow and understated, as was his last film, After the Storm (2016), which rarely rose above the level of a whisper. But few filmmakers in any culture manage to so deftly tease out the delicate tissue that holds families together.

Black and white photo of two men in suits. One has his arms folded. Both gaze into the distance, not at the camera.
Pawel Pawlikowski’s ‘Cold War’ is the follow-up to his critically acclaimed post-Holocaust drama ‘Ida’.

Family is also the subject of the films of Iranian writer-director Asghar Farhadi. In films such as A Separation (2011) and The Salesman (2016), both of which played at previous Perth Festivals, Farhadi digs beneath the secrets and lies of the Iranian middle-classes, revealing that when it comes to marriage, family obligations and career, those living under an Islamic regime are not as far removed from us as you might imagine.

Set in a village on the outskirts of Madrid, Everybody Knows is about a woman named Laura (Penelope Cruz) who returns to native Spain with her two children and reconnects with her old flame, a winemaker played by Cruz’s real-life partner Javier Bardem. When Laura’s teenaged daughter goes missing it cracks open up a fissure in the extended family, exposing the long-suppressed history between the former lovers.

While Cruz gives the flashiest performance as the distraught mother, reviews suggest that it’s Bardem and, once again, Ricardo Darin (star of the opening film) who bare their souls in astonishing ways, sealing the male-centric first half of this year’s Lotterywest Films. Guys are in the spotlight this year but, in a world where male power is being challenged everywhere, nobody is making it easy for them.

Mark Naglazas

Lotterywest Films begins at UWA Somerville on November 26 and ECU Joondalup Pines on December 5. 

Pictured top is a still from Hirokazu Kore-Eda’s ‘Shoplifters’.

Mark Naglazas is the former film editor, chief film critic and an arts writer for The West Australian. He interviewed many of the world’s major stars and most significant filmmakers, covered international film festivals and hosted numerous movie and and arts events. He was also a long-time contributor to ABC radio. Mark now reviews films for 6PR, writes features for STM and is attempting his own screenplays. Mark loves nothing more than an old-school screwball comedy so his playground favourite activity is hanging upside down on the monkey bars.

Please follow and like us:
Children, Features, News, Performing arts, Visual arts

The Awesome lowdown

As the name suggests, the Awesome International Arts Festival for Bright Young Things brings fantastic arts events for young people to Perth… from around the world. So what does it take for a show to be included in the program?

Awesome Artistic Director Jenny Simpson chose six shows from this year’s line up and explained why she selected them, and why you should check them out!

Ruby’s Wish (ages 7 and up) 
girl and clown doctor“This is a show that I’ve wanted to program for some time. It’s had really successful seasons at the Sydney Opera House and Arts Centre Melbourne, where it absolutely won over audiences. It’s about a little girl called Ruby, and she’s a disempowered little girl because she’s not very well. She forms unlikely friendship with a very odd clown doctor. Together Ruby and the clown doctor create a whole new world in Ruby’s hospital room.

“The primary message behind this show is that your imagination can set you free. A lot of time we have kids who are getting anxious about things, especially as they go into teenage-hood. One of the things at Awesome that we try to promote is having a creative pursuit or creative interest, because your imagination and creativity can set you free. That is essentially the message that underpins Ruby’s Wish. So I think that it’s not only a beautiful, enjoyable, funny, poignant and delightful show, I hope people take a message out of it that empowers them into the future.”

 

Four Go Wild in Wellies (ages 3-5) 
“What’s not to love about this title?

dancers in wellington boots
4 Go Wild in Wellies. Independance 4. November 2016

“It’s absolutely ticklish, and this show is ticklish. It’s by an extraordinary dance company from Glasgow whose name is Independance. They’re called Independance because they are loudly and proudly an inclusive dance company. So they have dancers from all walks of life, who have professional careers, sometimes dancers who we would not expect to have a professional career as a dancer.

Four Go Wild in Wellies is for younger audiences. As I said, it’s ticklish and fun, and it’s actually very short in duration, so it’s great for children who have a short attention span. Perhaps what I love most about this show is that it features two incredible professional dancers who happen to have Down Syndrome. I think that’s a very powerful message, firstly to the broader community, who may not understand that people with Down Syndrome have fantastic capability and talent, and are perfectly able to have professional careers. And I can think of nothing more empowering for a child who has Down Syndrome, or their parent, than to sit in a curated international arts festival and see two performers, at the top of their game as professionals, performing, and they just happen to have Down Syndrome. So I hope that this is an empowering and informing show for our community.”

McNirt Hates Dirt (ages 3-5 years) 
Adults and children playing in dirt“Look, I guess my personal reason for programming this show is that I grew up on a little farm and we grew all our fruit and vegetables and our meat. We grew everything, pretty much, that we ate. So to me it’s very normal to know that our food comes from the land. I do wonder, sometimes, if that is the case for most children… and I doubt that it is. So McNirt Hates Dirt is a delightful little tale about a character who thinks dirt is horrible. He meets Gertie who loves dirt because dirt gives life to plants and flowers.

“This is a highly educational show, it’s very musical and it’s really really fun. It’s a very gentle and sweet way of teaching kids where their food comes from, and the value of things like water, soil and light.”

Audioplay: The Turners (7-12 years)
“I’m particularly excited about Side Pony Productions’ Audioplay: The Turners.

Two young girls wearing headsets
Photo: David Collins

“Side Pony Productions premiered a work, a few years ago now, that brought the audience into the narrative and into performing a play. When the work for adults came out a few years ago, all of us were really excited and impressed with it. So, when I got wind that they were making one for children, based on the phenomenally popular series The Turners by Mick Elliott, I really wanted to have it in Awesome.

“What I like really like about The Turners and about director Zoe Pepper’s work is that she’s turning the form upside down and she’s playing with that form, in a really lovely way. The children actually perform this play, guided by audio cues on headsets. It’s interactive theatre at its best, by one of our local artists. I really like the way that it engages children and I hope that after experiencing Audioplay: The Turners, children will want to go home and make their own theatre show.”

Great Big, Dark and Spooky Book Read (ages 5 and up) 
six books“I don’t want to give too much away about this, because it’s big, it’s dark and it’s spooky. And we all know that kids find ‘spooky’ to be one of the most exhilarating experiences. So this will be an exhilarating and fun experience.

“We’re working with Fremantle Press to launch six extraordinary West Australian books. So those books – Bush and Beyond by Cheryl Kickett-Tucker, Gastronauts by James Foley, Off the Track by Cristy Burne, The Hole Story by Kelly Canby, In the Lamplight by Dianne Wolfer and More and More and More by Ian Mutch – are fantastic books. When you buy a ticket to this, you can choose which book you want. So the cost of your ticket gets you a book. It’s great value.

“The State Library Theatre is going to be dark. It’s going to be spooky. There are going to be authors telling spooky stories. So for those of you who like a little bit of spookiness in middle of day, it’s going to be a cracker of an event. It’s going to be terrifyingly good in fact.”

Ann-Droid (Ages 4 and up) 
girl in red tutu lit with red exploding light“Many years ago I was very inspired by the work of 1927, a theatre company from the UK. I’ve always wanted them to make a work for children. As it turns out they are making a work for children with Barrie Kosky, and they will be at the Perth festival this year, which is utterly brilliant. However, I’ve searched the world looking for a similar style of work and I found a company in Hungary, of all places, that creates live theatre that interacts with exquisite animation.

Ann-Droid: The Wonderful Adventures of Robot Girl is a bit rite of passage story, it’s got a great adventure, it’s about an empowered young woman and what’s not to love about that? And it’s one of those incredibly spectacular shows where the animation and theatre will blow you away, all at once, as they respond to each other. You can expect to go ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ quite a bit in this one.”

Pictured top: Radioplay: The Turners. Photo: David Collins.

The Awesome Festival runs September 28 – October 12.

Check out the full program here.

Please follow and like us:
a girl dancing, a guy doing sound
Dance, Features, News, Performing arts, The MoveMe Files

Journey to a dance work

Ever wondered how a dance work gets put together? Dance artist Talitha Maslin and composer/collaborator Dane Yates will be giving you the chance to have a look at a showing of their work-in-progress, entitled Amity, as part of the MoveMe Festival this September. Nina Levy had a chat with Talitha Maslin to find out more about Amity’s journey so far.

Talitha Maslin and Dane Yates. Photo: Alexander Turner.

Tell us about Amity
Amity is a new work that Dane and I are currently developing, looking closely at the collaboration between composer and choreographer. We were lucky enough to be selected as artists in residence at Albany’s Vancouver Arts Centre this year and wanted to create the work in relation to our practice, with consideration of place and region. We looked at historical sites in Albany and came across the Brig Amity, the ship that brought the first settlers to Western Australia.

We quickly became interested in the meaning of “amity” – friendship or friendly relations. We then discovered that the relationship between the local Minang people and the settlers was, initially, one of co-operation and harmony. We didn’t want to get super political inside the work so decided to focus on sociological elements, like how to maintain positive rapport and how to keep working together even through moments of disagreement or confusion. Our creative relationship has a beautiful harmony; we are both interested in breaking the constraints of the titles “composer” and “choreographer” to generate a balance where we can direct each element of the work equally.

What is your role in the work?
What’s been interesting about this work is that I can’t really pinpoint my exact “role” in it, I guess the best thing to say is I’m the co-director. Dane and I feel we are simultaneously the composer and choreographer and, in some unplanned and completely unknown way, set and lighting designers. We spent a good portion of time developing a language where we could both have input in each field. In this way, I feel there is a deeper understanding of concept realisation and direction beyond what I have experienced in other choreographic works I’ve directed.

How did your collaboration with Dane come about?
I first met Dane at a STRUT workshop and I felt he had a natural intuition in reading dance and generating sound that is experimental but, at the same time, has a way of drawing the audience in. We’ve had a working relationship since 2016 and I am so happy that we can work together with equal voices in this work. He is an amazing dancer who has a natural understanding of rhythm, state and, to be honest, the legs of a ballet dancer. He has taught me about sound design techniques and laptop composition, and is a massive inspiration and joy to work with.

Poster image for ‘Amity’, featuring Dane Yates and Talitha Maslin. Photo: Talitha Maslin and Dane Yates.

Talk us through the creative process of making the work…
We began by discussing concepts. We set out simple things to start off the creative process – Dane would give me an improvisation task to work with, for example, and I would describe some sound, like tone and tempo, for him to work with. We gradually began teaching each other skills; I learnt how to use some music making software and Dane learnt how to set choreography and spatial design.

Due to our relative isolation in Albany and need to be in front of the heater, we worked in the rehearsal space, the car and the living room, blurting out ideas at any moment of the day. It was awesome to track when we would get spurts of creative energy and amazing to have the space to run with it.

We slowly built scenes and sections, then threaded the ideas together by finding something of a narrative within the larger meaning of our relationship in the work. We also spoke a lot about audience engagement and how we wanted to keep the work light, as we both naturally lean towards darker and more experimental work. We managed to work with a balance between the experimental, pop culture, consideration of communal dances and a blend of sound samples and songs.

What excites you about this work?
This work excites me because we are working towards a new interdisciplinary platform to redesign the dancer/musician relationship. Showing something at the beginning of its journey, when both performers are vulnerable and working outside their comfort zones to discover how and why they create performance work, is super exciting for us. We hope the audience will come on a journey of discovery with us as we invite them on a rollercoaster of human emotion through physical and audible immersion.

What appeals you about being involved in the MoveMe Festival?
I first performed in MoveMe Festival 2016 with Co3 Australia, in Raewyn Hill’s The Cry. The performance was an amazing experience as it was the first full length work Co3 ever presented and the first time I felt really established and valued as a performer in the Perth dance community. What’s special for me this year is that I get to feel what it’s like to present something I’ve created, in a big dance festival. So even though it’s a showing, it feels like a huge step in my career and I’m looking forward to that. Amity is definitely a work in progress, so I am also excited to put it in the public sphere in this moment, as audience response will be invaluable moving forward.

I am also working with Momentum Dance on their “SeeMe” performance, so this festival is really helping me to grow as a choreographer, and to find my independent voice within the community. We are also thrilled at the unique opportunity to represent young creative voices within the festival which celebrates WA’s dance community.

Talitha Maslin and Dane Yates will present a showing of “Amity” at the ShowMe program, Saturday 22 September at the Middar room, State Theatre Centre of WA. The showing is free but please register you interest at https://moveme.org.au/amity/

Pictured top: Talitha Maslin and Dane Yates performing at Outcome Unknown’s WAM Experimental Music showcase in 2017. Photo: Laura Strøbech.

Please follow and like us:
Group hug
Features, News, Performing arts, Theatre

Only connect

Does technology connect us? Or does it push us further apart? That’s a question that Mandurah’s youth performing arts company Riptide will be asking in The 1’s the 0’s and Everything in Between. Nina Levy caught up with artistic director Katt Osborne, to learn more about this timely new work.

Recently I deleted the Facebook app on my phone. Although the moment of deletion was impulsive (close to midnight, mid-scroll), for some months prior I had been concerned about both the amount of time I was spending on the app, and the fact that the ratio of enjoyment to anxiety experienced whilst “using” seemed to be tipping in favour of the latter.

In theory, I’d like to delete my social media accounts altogether… but there’s no way I will. Facebook, in particular, is central to both my professional and social life. I’m not alone in this, nor in experiencing newsfeed-induced anxiety. Social media is a double-edged sword.

It’s this paradox that is at the centre of The 1’s, the 0’s, and Everything in Between, a new play from Mandurah Performing Arts Centre’s youth company Riptide, that’s been co-commissioned with The Australian Theatre for Young People.  Written by local playwright Chris Isaacs and directed by the company’s artistic director Katt Osborne, the work explores the effects of digital communication and conversation on our relationships.

1’s and 0’s is a play about connection and disconnection through the use of technology,” explains Osborne. “But it’s not about technology, it’s more about ways humans communicate and seek those connections, and how that has changed over time; and how the internet and devices can bring us closer together, but maybe sometimes that doesn’t make us feel close, and what that means for human relationships.

“It’s a play that’s written in… I think it’s 47 short scenes,” she continues. “The scenes are little glimpses into people’s lives and how they might be communicating. That has a cumulative effect over the course of the piece, that asks the audience to ponder the questions, what are the connections we’re seeking? How do we get that in modern life and how are we missing out? Chris and I talk about the work more as a piece of music, in a lot of ways. It has three movements and they all have a different tempo. A lot of it is about the rhythm.”

That episodic structure makes the work relatively abstract, Osborne reflects. “Our challenge is how to pull that all together with a satisfying through-line for the audience. It’s ambitious… and I think it will pay off.”

Rehearsal
‘The script is very open and that’s been exciting for me, as director, and for the performers, because we have a lot of room to make it into what we want.’ Katt Osborne (right), rehearsing with Riptide company members Monique Tibbott and Harrison Mitchell. Photo: Jamie Breen.

While the script is written by Isaacs, the performers, aged 15-25, have been involved in shaping it. “The script is very open and that’s been exciting for me, as director, and for the performers, because we have a lot of room to make it into what we want,” says Osborne. “The Riptide ensemble feel ownership over it, because they participated in the initial discussions and giving feedback on the script and workshopping it.”

That involvement in the creative process is central to Riptide’s philosophy, says Osborne. “The aim [of the company] is to grow and empower young artists – specifically performance makers and performers in Mandurah – to grow their skills and be exposed to more professional work. We also aim to empower young people to make their own work,” she elaborates. “We do that through a bunch of different ways; in more traditional ways, in terms of masterclasses with experienced artists, but also in less traditional ways, in that all of the work we make is either is co-created by the young company members [in collaboration with experienced artists] or created solely by the young people, with my mentorship.”

And so Riptide is as much about writing and making work as it is about performing, she continues. “I think that’s often the missing link for young people,” she muses. “My training is through theatre making at university, and I remember that being so eye-opening, going from Year 12 into something that was about making a piece into performance. That’s where my passion is, so obviously I’ve brought that into the company. Having some ownership over the thing that you’re performing in, or a part of, is so important in terms of gaining skills, but also in terms of confidence, understanding the world, finding a voice to say what you want to say.”

Young people sitting on a bench
‘The aim of the company is to grow and empower young artists … to grow their skills and be exposed to more professional work and … to make their own work.’ Pictured: Riptide company members in rehearsal. Photo: Jamie Breen.

Those who are familiar with Katt Osborne will know that she has a diverse background in theatre as a maker, director and creative producer. After graduating with a Bachelor of Contemporary Performance from Edith Cowan University in 2007 she founded an independent company called The Duckhouse, which presented work at Perth venues such as The Blue Room Theatre and PICA. After five years that company morphed into The Last Great Hunt, and Osborn became both a core artist of the company and its general manager for three years. She has also worked in opera as a director, and last year worked in the UK as assistant director for Dr Seuss’s The Lorax, at The Old Vic. In addition to directing Riptide, currently she is a Black Swan State Theatre Company Resident artist, and is producing Actéon for West Australian based opera company Lost and Found.

It’s her own experience of working in the performing arts that makes her particularly passionate about exposing her young charges to a variety of theatrical experiences and roles. “Because I do a lot of different things in my practice, I like to show them that there are so many ways that you can be an artist or be involved in the arts or creative activity, and that involvement can be community-based or professional. There are all these different pathways to find the thing that you’re passionate about and do that thing.”

The 1’s, the 0’s, and Everything in Between plays Mandurah Performing Arts Centre, 19-23 September.

Pictured top: Teaghan Lowry (centre) with Harrison Mitchell and Tristen Pateman, rehearsing “The 1’s, the 0’s and Everything in Between”. Photo: Jamie Breen.

Please follow and like us:
Woman in a yellow dress, in a plank position
Dance, Features, News, Performing arts, The MoveMe Files

The MoveMe Files: Yilin Kong

Yilin Kong first performed her self-devised solo Blushed at Strut Dance’s 2017 “Short Cuts” season, where it was described by Seesaw’s Nina Levy as “sculptural”, “dynamic” and “gloriously articulate”. So it’s no surprise that Blushed was selected to be further developed for performance in Strut Dance’s “Next” season. Nina Levy found out more about this solo, ahead of the presentation of “Next” at the upcoming MoveMe Festival.

Yilin Kong
Yilin Kong

Nina Levy: Tell me about Blushed.
Yilin Kong: Blushed is an extended version of a solo created for STRUT’s 2017 Short Cuts. The [original] solo was a self exploration of physicality and emotion around my own relationship to my femininity. Femininity exists everywhere and is a part of every person and there is always a particular stereotype and expectation with the understanding of the word. I am curious about the complexity and scale of femininity that can exist and be represented within history, nature, culture and atmosphere. I myself have an interesting relationship with my understanding of my own femininity and often find myself thinking things that are taboo or contradictory, or feeling the sense that the feminine voice isn’t loud or heard.

The work last year stood in two parts, looking at the idea of landscape and sculptural structures on the body and then at the feminine and the groundedness within the woman. This time round I have revisited both sections, and am adding a third, that will take us into another world, looking at the ethereal yet alien. So this work will be comprised of three episodes in three different worlds.

NL: What inspired you to make Blushed?
YK: I decided to create a solo as a challenge and an exploration of physical research, playing with and pushing my boundaries. This is the first time I have created on myself at a performance level and it has been an interesting experiment on understanding my perspective, expectations and trust in myself. There’s definitely a real test but also liberation in holding the majority of the responsibility.

Girl dancing in yellow playsuit
‘All the material for this solo came from states of improvisation.’ Yilin Kong in ‘Blushed’.

NL: Who else is involved in Blushed?
YK: Niharika Senapati is making one component of the music. Not only does she make sound but she is also my soundboard for ideas and provides general encouragement and positivity if I feel like I’m losing any sort of direction. I’ve also had other close artists come through to help keep my perspective while working away by myself. It’s very easy to lose track of yourself, being alone all day!

NL: Talk me through the creative process of making Blushed
YK: Another reason why I was interested in working solo was to try a different creative process to what I would usually play in. All the material for this solo came from states of improvisation. I found myself in a place/state/atmosphere and settled and played for a while and then re-learned the bits that I found interesting and relevant. There is so much intricate detail and idiosyncrasy in movement that is generated in the moment and I find it so much more integral and interesting to play and shape with. And working on myself, I can really push myself physically to find new pathways and ideas. I do think it’s quite a skill to be able to learn from idiosyncrasies, and have only just started to get the grasp of it, without taking hours on about 30 seconds!

I am also interested in the layers of performance and how much we can be with our audiences. Playing solo has been a useful way to consider building a relationship with my audience, as I don’t have other bodies in the space to interact with.

NL: What excites you about presenting Blushed at MoveMe?
YK: It’s a first work of mine to be performed at a festival to ticketed audiences and the first time I’m performing my own work. I feel incredibly exposed and vulnerable which is nerve-wracking but also exciting and so beautiful at the same time. I think I’m excited to share my choreographic voice with people outside of my immediate work community and family. When I was first making this solo last year, it was quite cathartic and a big part of my personal growth, so the work feels very special and considered. I hope that audiences can take something away from it, whether they connect to me as a performer or my journey, or just to the images or atmosphere present.

‘There is so much intricate detail and idiosyncrasy in movement that is generated in the moment.’ Yilin Kong in ‘Blushed’.

NL: Have you performed at the MoveMe Festival previously?
YK: Yes, I performed in the last MoveMe Festival [in 2016], in STRUT’s presentation of Ohad Naharin’s Decadance. That performance has definitely been a highlight of my performing career, not only because the work is so iconic and such a joy to perform and share with audiences, but because being a part of a festival creates such a buzz, in both the arts community and the community around Perth. On multiple occasions I enjoyed  going home on the bus and listening to strangers talk about the different shows they had had the opportunity to experience and how it allowed them the opportunity to see something different and local. I think it’s so important that festivals such as MoveMe are around, as there are so many local artists and makers who have a voice and work to share. I feel very passionate and privileged to be so involved in the festival.

NL: What are you looking forward to seeing at MoveMe?
YK: I am very curious about Dust on the Shortbread by Anything is Valid Dance Theatre (AIVDT). This work has been in progress for a little while and I’m very interested to see the outcome.

I also haven’t had much experience with intimate works especially in intimate and familiar site specific spaces so am curious to experience it. I am also intrigued by the two prominent performers, Elizabeth Cameron Dalman and George Shevtsov, as I am familiar with both but haven’t seen perform in a creative space like this and can imagine their presence and performance to be quite special and poignant. I think Serena and Quindell [of AIVDT] are incredibly interesting and intelligent creatives so I’m also excited to see their work again.

Yilin Kong’s “Blushed” will be presented as part of Strut Dance’s “Next”, alternating with Sally Richardson’s #thatwomanJulia, and plays the Studio Underground, together with Kynan Hughes’s Love/Less, 19-22 September.

Pictured top: Yilin Kong in ‘Blushed’ at ‘Short Cuts’ in 2017.

Please follow and like us:
Artwork courtesy of Natsumi de Dianous. Work details: Slime fantasy grrl, 2018, Clay, acrylic, clear slime and temporary tattoo.
Comics, Features, Film, Installation, Mixed media, News, Sculpture, Visual arts

Recasting the Manic Pixie Dream Girl

We all know the Manic Pixie Dream Girl of the contemporary romantic film. She’s that off-beat, mysterious one, that free thinker who enables the male hero to shake off the shackles of his dull, suburban life… and though she may seem carefree, she’s a problematic figure, defined and delineated by her relationship to a male protagonist.

In “Magical Woman”, an art exhibition curated by Aisyah Aaqil Sumito and Sophie Nixon, she’s being utilised differently, however. A platform for six emerging female and non-binary artists to explore representations of romance in film and popular culture, “Magical Woman” invites artists to use the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope as a starting point to produce a new body of work, while taking into consideration the intersections of racism, misogyny, queer exclusion and trans exclusion. Nina Levy spoke to Sumito and Nixon to find out more.

Nina Levy: I think most of us are familiar with the concept of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl (MPDG) but can you talk about who the MPDG is and what she represents?

Sophie Nixon
Sophie Nixon

Sophie Nixon: The Manic Pixie Dream Girl is a colourful and quirky character who exists to uplift, enrich and fulfil the

lives of white-male protagonists. Think of films like 500 days of Summer, Scott Pilgrim vs The World, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. If you pay enough attention you may catch these women encouraging the male protagonist to try new things and step outside of his comfort zone.

Manic Pixie Dream Girls are characterised as having bubbly and eclectic exteriors, often partnered with underlying poor mental health; this is often romanticised as being part of their “quirk” to add seeming depth, mystery and intrigue to the character – a plot device in the central character’s narrative.

Aisyah Aaqil Sumito
Aisyah Aaqil Sumito

Aisyah Aaqil Sumito: Referring back to what Sophie said about encouraging centralised male characters to “live”… these characters are infantilised by their inability to communicate their feelings, how they act, and what they enjoy – while simultaneously being granted the emotional capacity to teach these men how to live their lives (almost like mothering). It’s a harmful and unrealistic representation of women that is very ingrained in our ways of seeing things. In more simple terms, it affects the way that we interact, and the warped standards that women and non-binary folk hold ourselves to – even if we don’t fit into the mould of a trope that applies to a very specific demographic.

NL: What made you decide to take the Manic Pixie Dream Girl as the starting point for this exhibition?
AAS: “Magical Woman” began as a means to vent about frustrations and representations of women in media. Initially we were only planning to respond to Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope itself – a small, spunky project that we would use to rock the boat. The longer we looked for a venue, the more time I had to actually think about this particular trope and how transgressive critiquing it would actually be, and how beneficial it would be for the artists. The Manic Pixie Dream Girl is a trope that only applies to white cisgender women. With that considered, I wanted to encourage the artists to go a bit deeper than the trope itself, critically engaging with intersections of racism, misogyny, trans exclusion, and queer exclusion, regardless of what kind of work they decided they would make. For me it’s really important that it is distinguished as a starting point, and that our exhibition is a small contribution to an ever-expanding conversation.

NL: You’re co-curating “Magical Woman” – how did you meet? And what made you decide to work together?
AAS: Sophie and I met around February 2017, for an exhibition that I curated alongside Olivia Tartaglia at City Arts Space for Propel Youth Art’s 2017 KickstART Festival “KickstARTISTS: Symbiosis”. Beyond the work we do as artists and as curators, we are good friends. Working together to embody discussions we have on a regular basis, in the form of a curated exhibition, was really beneficial and a huge learning curve for both of us.

SN: Outside of “Magical Woman”, I’m working to complete my honours in Fine Art at Curtin University and hustling odd-jobs. As Aisyah mentioned, we met within the happenings of the “Symbiosis exhibition”. I was a participating artist in mentorship with Jess Day, and Aisyah was co-curator with Olivia Tartaglia in a skillshare/mentorship context. Shortly after that, I produced work for another show that Aisyah curated alongside Claire Bushby. I remember being so in awe (still am to be honest) of Aisyah, their dedication, professionalism and how they carried themselves as a curator. For both of us, this is  our first time curating independently (outside the program of a mentorship/institution). Knowing Aisyah and I were in this together made the process of applying for shows and grants so much easier, I don’t know if I would have had the same amount of courage, ambition and motivation if they weren’t there.

NL: You’re both emerging curators as well as visual artists… what draws you to curating? What are the challenges/rewards of being a curator?
AAS: My first curatorial project was “KickstARTISTS: Symbiosis”, since then I’ve curated “Borders and Transitions” (in mentorship with Claire Bushby) and “The Corsini Collection: Revisited” (in mentorship with Dunja Rmandić), all of which have been hugely rewarding learning experiences. Before I took on these projects, I was really interested in the role of the curator, and how that role fostered growth for emerging artists in a gallery context. It was something I started thinking about when I visited my first Paper Mountain exhibition “Stay/Keep” (2014), curated by Melissa McGrath.

I find working with artists, pushing their conceptual development, as well as their capacity to do and be better (despite inevitably recurring moments of doubt) incredibly rewarding. For the most part, balancing unpaid administrative labour within my curatorial practice, and setting my boundaries so that I don’t burn out from overwork, have been the most challenging aspects of curating. “Magical Woman” is the first show I have co-curated beyond a mentorship context, which is both nerve-wracking and exciting.

SN: During the last year (2016) of my Bachelor of Fine Art at Curtin, I was the student coordinator of the graduate showcase exhibition, which included organising several fundraising exhibitions. This experience gave me a taste for arts management and curating. After that I completed an internship at PSAS in Fremantle under the wing of their director Tom Mùller, which saw me curate an exhibition of their studio artists.

When it comes to the opening night I usually have this moment of stillness where I really take it in: reflecting on where it started and seeing a show in its resolution. It’s a very wholesome feeling. I think that’s what drives me to keep curating. One of the most challenging things about curating for me personally is managing my time between curatorial duties and honours research.

“Magical Woman” opens at Paper Mountain 7 September, exhibition 8-23 September. Magical Woman is supported by Healthway, promoting the Drug Aware Message and Propel Youth Arts WA.

Pictured top: Artwork courtesy of Natsumi de Dianous. Work details: “Slime fantasy grrl”, 2018, Clay, acrylic, clear slime and temporary tattoo.

Please follow and like us:
dancers sitting at a table
Dance, Features, News, Performing arts, The MoveMe Files

Inside the WA Dance Makers Project

This September, Co3 Australia will launch the 2018 MoveMe Festival with a double dance bill celebrating four dynamic West Australian women, led by the legendary Chrissie Parrott. Nina Levy headed into the rehearsal studio to find out more.

It’s a chilly Thursday afternoon but inside Rehearsal Room 2 at the State Theatre Centre it feels summer-warm and a little sweaty, evidence that the black-clad dancers of Co3 Australia have been hard at work. They’re preparing for the company’s upcoming season, “WA Dance Makers Project”, which will be presented as part of the 2018 MoveMe Festival, and I’m lucky enough to be attending an exclusive studio showing of the works in progress. As the name suggests, this double bill is all about supporting WA choreographers, with the headline work created by State Living Treasure Chrissie Parrott, supported by a new piece from the delightfully quirky Unkempt Dance (Carly Armstrong, Jessica Lewis and Amy Wiseman), and a curtain-raiser choreographed by WA born-and-trained Richard Cilli, performed by WAAPA’s LINK Dance Company.

With over 90 dance works in her back catalogue, you’d think that Parrott might be running out of ideas, but the glimpse we get of her new work, In-Lore Act II, indicates that this veteran choreographer is still exploring new concepts. While the whimsical gestures and folky accompaniment of the opening trio (performed here as a duo by Katherine Gurr and Zoe Wozniak because the third performer is unwell) might, fleetingly, remind those in the know of 2009’s The Garden, the pace and precision demanded by this fast and furious number give it a very different look.

Chrissie Parrott and dancers
‘I won’t give away the narrative yet because I think when we get to the theatre it will give people the opportunity to write their own.’ Chrissie Parrott (centre) with Zoe Wozniak (left), Mitch Harvey (seated) and Katherine Gurr (right). Photo: Stefan Gosatti.

In the Q&A that follows the showing, Parrott talks about those folky touches. “I have this inkling towards Nordic folklore,” she explains. “The music that you heard is a Swedish folkloric song and there are ideas of some of the mystery and magic that continues to hold in the folklore of those cold, dark places, so that’s fed into this work. It’s got a richness to it that is universal, I think, even though it’s got that Nordic edge to it. That’s why the work is called In-Lore, because it has a folkloric aspect to it.”

In spite of that folklore element, the starting point for In-Lore Act II isn’t a narrative. “The work has never started with a narrative, except for my secret narrative without a story or story without a narrative,” says Parrott enigmatically. “So we’ve started with very simple abstract tasks that you give dancers and then we put them together, we mix and match dancers and develop them into work, until the narrative starts to reveal itself to me.”

Although Parrott says that the narrative has started to appear at the time of the showing (four weeks from opening), she’s not telling. “I won’t give away the narrative yet because I think when we get to the theatre it will give people the opportunity to write their own,” she explains. “You’ll see it and you’ll decide what the narrative is.”

three girls in black dresses
“We’re all for multiple selves.” Unkempt Dance: (L-R): Amy Wiseman, Carly Armstrong, Jessica Lewis. Photo: Emma Fishwick.

Our In-Lore Act II preview is followed by a peek at Unkempt Dance’s new work, You Do Ewe. Comprised of dance artists Carly Armstrong, Jessica Lewis and Amy Wiseman, Unkempt has been making dance theatre with a comical streak since 2010. True to form, the choreography thus far includes lip-syncing, a hot pink wig, and an acrobatic approach to storytelling.

Those who saw Unkempt’s work for Strut Dance’s 2017 “Short Cuts” season, I Have Health Insurance Now will recall that work’s light-hearted take on what it means to be 30. Listening to the trio talk, it’s clear that there’s a relationship between that work and You Do Ewe.

“Our work for Co3 started from discussions about the phase of life that we’re in,” remarks Lewis. “We’re suddenly very aware of having lots of different roles, different hats we’re all wearing.” Like many independent artists, all three members of Unkempt have multiple jobs on the go, covering a range of skill sets. And so the three got thinking about some advice they’ve heard often, ‘Just be yourself’. “We wanted to unpack that idea,” says Lewis. “’Just be yourself’ is such a loaded statement, really.”

“We weren’t interested in just one ‘authentic’ version of self,” Armstrong adds. “We wanted to discover and explore the different facets of each dancer, and push some of these to a heightened level.”

“We’re also interested in the opportunity to slip into or try on other versions of yourself that might not feel comfortable, but will actually push you in a direction that is exciting or different,” Wiseman concludes. “We’re all for multiple selves.”

You can catch “WA Dance Makers Project” at the Studio Underground, State Theatre of WA, 12-15 September.

Pictured top: Co3 Australia dancers rehearsing Chrissie Parrott’s ‘In-Lore Act II’. Photo: Stefan Gosatti.

Please follow and like us:
Two elderly people dancing
Dance, Features, News, Performing arts, The MoveMe Files

Close to home

What is it like to slowly but surely lose your memories? For most of us, it’s an unimaginable concept but a new dance theatre work, Dust on the Shortbread, invites us into the home of a person with dementia, to explore what happens when the moments that have shaped your life begin to crumble.

Ahead of the premiere of Dust on the Shortbread at the 2018 MoveMe Festival, Nina Levy spoke to one of the work’s co-creators, Serena Chalker.

It’s summer 2012, at the height of Fringe World. In a vintage caravan, my mum and I sit alongside three strangers, as two dancers negotiate the cramped confines, slotting their torsos into unexpected kitchenette spaces. This is Life in Miniature by Perth’s Anything is Valid Dance Theatre (AIVDT), the dance performance set in a space so small that it’s performed to just five audience members per session. In spite of the fact that dancing in a caravan sounds like a contradiction in terms, it’s Life in Miniature’s physicality that makes the work utterly compelling.

Using non-traditional sites for dance performances is a central part of AIVDT’s remit and the company has performed in a variety of surprising places, from laneways to an office block. “We’re interested in what a site can offer dance that a theatre can’t, and in utilising the stages that the world already has, so that you can look at those spaces in a new way, or you can have an experience with dance that you wouldn’t have in a theatre setting,” explains AIVDT co-director, Serena Chalker.

That wasn’t the catalyst for establishing the company, though, says Chalker. AIVDT started out life ten years ago, as “a rag-tag group of second year dance students at WAAPA”, she says with a grin. The group, which included current co-directors Quindell Orton and Chalker, was simply interested in improving the visibility of contemporary dance. “We had this idea that there would be a bigger audience for dance if only people could actually see it, and get over this issue of going into the theatre,” Chalker elaborates. “We started doing improvs in the city. Funnily enough there is a big audience for dance if you put something where people don’t expect it.” It was from here that Chalker and Orton’s interest in alternative sites developed.

While AIVDT’s home is still Perth and both Chalker and Orton are still officially based here, since presenting Life in Miniature at Fringe World, the pair have worked extensively in Europe, under the banner of AIVDT and as individual artists. Consequently, we haven’t seen AIVDT works in recent times… but that’s about to change, with their new work Dust on the Shortbread playing the MoveMe Festival this September. Featuring two acclaimed Australian performers, founder of Australian Dance Theatre Elizabeth Cameron Dalman OAM and WA actor George Shevtsov, Dust on the Shortbread explores the way in which dementia impacts one’s sense of identity and intimate relationships. As is traditional for AIVDT, the setting is non-traditional and intimate. The work will be performed inside a house in North Perth, for an audience of just 15 per session.

Two people sitting at a table, not looking at each other
‘Something that came up in the work is this tension between vitality and fragility in an older body.’ George Shevtsov and Elizabeth Cameron Dalman in ‘Dust on the Shortbread’.

For Chalker this topic strikes close to home; she lost her father to dementia in 2013. Understandably, then, when she and Orton began developing the work two years later, they didn’t want to rush. Not only was Chalker’s grief was still very fresh, but the pair felt they needed to plenty of time to research before beginning the creative process. “Lots of topics require research but there are some that, due to sensitive subject matter, take more thought about the best way to go about it without offending people, or glossing over it, or trivialising it,” Chalker explains.

While the intimate setting and the use of physical theatre to explore the non-physical are trademark AIVDT concepts, working with critically acclaimed senior performers is something new for the company. In dance, too, it’s unusual to see older performers on stage. “I think we, like society, underestimate what [older] people can do,” reflects Chalker. “You start diving into the creative process and you realise how much you can push.

“Something that came up in the work is this tension between vitality and fragility in an older body. [George Shevtsov and Elizabeth Cameron Dalman are] extremely capable performers. They bring such a wealth of experience and knowledge, and knowledge in the body. This is why we (Chalker and Orton) and couldn’t perform the work ourselves. We don’t have that lived experience. It wouldn’t be authentic.

“But it’s not a one-way street, we’re not just basking the glow of these great performers. We work with a lot of improv and tasks that come from a looser point than they have worked with before. So it’s definitely been exchange. They’ve been great; we’ve given them all sorts strange things and they’ve dived into it. They’re both very generous people.”

“Dust on the Shortbread” plays the MoveMe Festival September 11-15 and 18-22 at a secret venue in North Perth.

Pictured top: Elizabeth Cameron Dalman and George Shevtsov in “Dust on the Shortbread”.

 

Please follow and like us: