shall we get comfy
Dance, Performing arts

Degrees of comfort

Are you sitting comfortably? If not, why not? These are some of the questions choreographer April Vardy asks in her new work Shall we get comfy?, premiering at Fringe World this month. In her Fringe Session Q&A, April takes her turn answering, rather than asking, the questions.

April Vardy
April Vardy

Seesaw: When did you first know that you wanted to be an artist?
April Vardy: I can’t pinpoint the exact moment I knew I wanted to be an artist. Going through university you slowly begin to realise and understand what it means to be an artist in the world. Being exposed and inspired by so many people through my studies at the Western Australia Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA), such as Emma Fishwick, Storm Helmore, Talitha Maslin and Isabella Stone… they all gave me insight and a desire to pursue life as an artist. Having that sense of artist in myself is still growing, and may never stop but the confidence and daringness, is expanding the more I get to be creative and make movement or contemporary dance works.

S: Career highlight so far?
AV: Definitely performing at Vondelpark, Amsterdam’s largest city park. This was during my time in LINK Dance Company (WAAPA’s graduate dance company). There was only myself and three others in the company at the time, Tanya Brown, Cheyenne Davis and Antonio Rinaldi. It was an amazing experience to have the sun setting in your vision as you were dancing on stage. Also having the audience filled with absolute strangers who may have just stopped whilst walking their dogs was a beautiful thought.

S: What do you love most about what you do?
AV: I love being able to see my ideas come to life… it is so satisfying. Having a vision and it working exactly how you thought, which is rare, or collaborating with dancers who are willing to give things a go to figure out what it is exactly you are looking for… I love being surrounded by such amazingly creative and talented people. Lastly, I love sharing what I have done, no matter how small, with friends, family and anyone who will come along.

S: Tell us about Shall we get comfy?, your 2018 Fringe show!
AV: Shall we get comfy? is an exploration of questioning what it means to be comfortable. Do we see our homes as our comfort zones? How do we sit comfortably? Do the people surrounding us change our definition of comfortable? Must you be uncomfortable before you get comfy? How long does it take you to get comfortable with a person?

I feel as though comfort is something everyone can relate to whether it’s a place, a song or person, there is always something that can bring us comfort in life when we need it. I hope to answer all these questions and more with the help of my dancers.

S: What made you decide to give Fringe World a whirl?
AV: I have always enjoyed the time of year when there is so much happening in Perth for celebrating the arts, and I thought why not let myself have a moment to get creative and choreography a dance work. I was craving the chance to be creative and needed something to satisfy this feeling and I thought Fringe would fill the void. A lot of friends’ support and encouragement also pushed me to enter to something in Fringe, as well as talented dancer friends volunteering their time to help my ideas come to life.

S: What is your favourite playground equipment?
AV: Definitely not the monkey bars, they were never my thing but probably just a simple swing. Nothing beats that feeling of being pushed higher and higher!

‘Shall we get comfy’ plays Paper Mountain, 19-21 February.

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Raglan Fetish show
Performing arts, Theatre

You want content?

“You’ll get your content” is the motto scrawled across the promo image for the Raglan Fetish Show, a one-man show featuring Patrick Downlow, Esq. that features lipsync, transgression, spoken word poetry, audience participation and cursed images… all at once.

Is that a promise or a threat? Seesaw caught up with Patrick Downlow Esq. (AKA writer/performer Nick Morlet) to find out more about this unusual character and his show.

Nick Morlet
Patrick Downlow Esq. AKA Nick Morlet

Seesaw: When did you first know that you wanted to be an artist?
Patrick Downlow Esq.: It was maybe 2009 when I realised that, for the most part, lay people simply don’t have the time or wherewithal to furnish themselves with the kind of content they truly deserve. I was at my office viewing footage an associate had sent me of a migrating herd of critically endangered Saiga antelope when it occurred to me that I’m in a position to really help others, in ways they never knew they needed help to begin with.

S: Did you do formal training, learn on-the-job, or a bit of both?
PD: I suppose it could be said I’ve been training all my life… from my childhood spent in the attic amongst the mouldering stacks of Nat Geos and Women’s Weeklies, to that first CRT monitor and the widening world of screen-based content it brought into our home.

I digress, or rather, regress. My on-the-job training started really at my first journalism job, reviewing local film festivals and gallery openings but I consider my true inception as an artist to be when I opened my first content dissemination firm in 2004. From there it was just a matter of realising my ultimate path, to become the person I am today.

S: Describe your artistic practice…
PD: There are, in essence, two pathways open to people who are interested in soliciting my services: the first, one-on-one coaching wherein I not only expose people to content that I, through a rigorous period of research, find most appropriate but also! divulge to them my patented methods and means of content procurement. This is, of course, not comprehensive of my entire practice but is certainly more in-depth than your usual sub-Reddit listing or Instagram exposé.

The second is geared more towards group sessions and this is what I will be showcasing in my debut Fringe performance, the Raglan Fetish Show. Both multi-modal and interdisciplinary in focus, the show takes the guise of a conventionally presentational one-man act, but certain technical and, let’s say, attitudinal aspects of the production will impress upon the audience that what they see is meta-content at the bleeding edge, a “22nd-century TedX talk” so to speak.

S: What do you love most about what you do?
PD: Just the very particular, very special way an under-occupied individual’s dull face lights up when they see an example of especially good content, for what must feel like the first time in their lives.

S: What made you decide to give Fringe World a whirl?
PD: People are at Fringe for one thing, and one thing only: content. Whether or not they get the best is up to them but I feel I can help raise awareness, so that audiences can best decide where to put their valuable selves. In other words, I saw a niche, I filled a niche. Now, as they say, all there is to do is to sit back and wait for the kudos to roll in.

S: What is your favourite playground equipment?
PD: The large web-like climbing apparatuses, found, for example, on the Freo esplanade.

The ‘Raglan Fetish Show’ plays Paper Mountain 12-17 February.

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the honeymoon suite
Dance, News, Performing arts, Reviews

A trip into retro-wonderland

Fringe World review: The Honeymoon Suite by Bernadette Lewis ·
Paper Mountain gallery, 1 February ·
Review by Nina Levy ·

Entering the Paper Mountain gallery space to see Bernadette Lewis’s The Honeymoon Suite, I come upon two be-sequinned dancers lying entwined, pretzel-like, around one another. Part-performance, part installation, two gallery walls feature luminous, blue-hued stills of the dancers, by photographer Emma Fishwick. The other two display an assortment of objects united by pinkness; flowers, hand-weights, slippers, ice cream cones, puzzle pieces.

The gallery, which is unusually long and narrow for a dance performance space, is mostly taken up by a rubber dance floor; the audience hovers at its edge, bathed in the subtle rosy glow that illuminates the show as a whole. There’s a gently 80s vibe permeating the room; the sequins, the neon sign, the background pop music, the musk sticks on offer.

The segue between before-the-show and the-show-has-definitely-started is subtle, appropriately, perhaps, for a work that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Musically the vibe hovers somewhere between lounge and the aforementioned 80s pop, with a handful of electronica thrown in for good measure.

Against this soundscape the movement teeters between sensual and silly, occasionally tipping into sinister. Now the dancers (Laura Boynes and Tanya Brown) recline like glamorous 50s film stars, their long hair flung back, their fingers holding invisible cigarettes aloft. Now they traverse the width of the performance space on their bottoms, hips shifting in a comical race to the end. Now they become entangled as they wrestle, more foes than friends. Boynes and Brown are gorgeous to watch as they morph, with careless ease, through the many moods of this work.

A fabulously kooky scene sees the dancers become a moving, ice-cream eating sculpture. Another involves climbing the walls, hanging from the window frames and Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart”.

Without giving too much away, the bouncing grand finale is highly satisfying, although as one of the audience members hauled (reluctantly) on stage, the closing moments felt anti-climactic. Aside from my aversion to audience participation, I would have liked to have seen this entertaining concept further developed.

Nonetheless, The Honeymoon Suite is trip into a retro-wonderland. It’s well worth 30 minutes of your time.

‘The Honeymoon Suite’ plays Paper Mountain gallery until February 5 and the installation may be viewed during gallery opening hours (9.30am-5pm).

Pictured top: One of the images on display as part of the installation/performance. Pictured: Laura Boynes. Photo: Emma Fishwick.

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The Honeymoon Suite
Dance, News, Performing arts

Abundantly kitsch

Those who were lucky enough to get a sneak peek at Bernadette Lewis’s “The Honeymoon Suite” in STRUT Dance’s “Short Cuts” program last year will know that the work is imbued with both sensuality and satire. Seesaw found out a little more about the dynamic emerging choreographer behind “The Honeymoon Suite”, ahead of its Fringe World season.

Bernadette Lewis
Bernadette Lewis. Photo: Jenni Large.

Seesaw: Tell us about your training… formal training, on-the-job, or a bit of both?
Bernadette Lewis: I began my training as an elite level gymnast at age seven, retiring from my Olympic pursuit at the ripe old age of 12 when I started my formal classical, jazz and contemporary dance training. I completed my BA in dance at WAAPA in 2005 and then temporarily retired again before returning for my honours year with LINK Dance Company in 2011. I’ve been learning on the job ever since.

S: Describe your artistic practice…
BL: My artistic practice crosses performance, choreography, teaching and community engagement. My choreographic works are moving pastiches that drive toward a dialogue or confluence of high art and pop culture.

S: Career highlight so far?
BL: So hard to pick one, but definitely up there is returning to LINK as a guest artist in 2015 to perform in Didier Théron’s Shanghai Bolero at the Fremantle Arts Centre.

S: Career lowlight?
BL: The inevitable gaps in work that we independent artists face year in, year out.

S: What do you love most about what you do?
BL: Being able to share the absolute joy of dance with all walks of life from professionals, to young aspiring dancers, to kids who can’t afford dance and to seniors who always wanted to.

S: Tell us about your 2018 Fringe show, The Honeymoon Suite!
BL: The Honeymoon Suite is a short, contemporary dance work staged in a light, photography and found object installation. It’s a neon, time travelling dreamscape that collages together vintage women’s wrestling, 1940’s beauty queens and the best of 1980’s exercise fads with all the religious fervour of a devout, Mexican Luchadora. It’s a bit slapstick, a bit satirical and abundantly kitsch.

It’s performed by Laura Boynes and Tanya Brown, with killer photography by Emma Fishwick and will be full of colour thanks to some very sage lighting advice from Chris Donnelly.

S: You’ve performed in Fringe before but not presented your own work. What made you decide to give Fringe World a whirl as a maker?
BL: I’ve been very choosy about entering the Fringe domain as a presenter and have been waiting for the right opportunity to present the right work for some time now. I was determined to be involved in a curated program so when Paper Mountain’s Peaks call out was announced I didn’t want to miss out. I’m a big fan of their volunteer/co-op model and am really interested in placing dance in non-conventional spaces. The Paper Mountain Gallery is an absolute gift for us.

S: Aside from your show, what are you looking forward to seeing/doing at Fringe?
BL: I can’t wait to see the rest of the Peaks program and “MicroMove” at The Blue Room as part of Summer Nights, where I’ll be performing in Scott Elstermann’s Act 2, Scenes 1-4 – The Murder / The Horror / The Arrest / The Escape.

S: What is your favourite playground equipment? 
BL: The swings. No doubt about it.

‘The Honeymoon Suite’ plays Paper Mountain, February 1-5.

Pictured top is dancer Laura Boynes. Photo: Emma Fishwick.

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Features, hip hop, News, Performing arts, Rap, Slam poetry

Poetry for our times

What do you get when you mix performance poetry, spoken word and rap? Star-Crossed Poets, a group of Perth performers who will be mixing poetry with a little hip-hop at Fringe World. Jesse Oliver, founder of Star-Crossed Poets, gave Seesaw an insight into the wonderful world of performance poetry… including competing nationally!

Seesaw: When did you first know that you wanted to be an artist?
Jesse Oliver: I knew I wanted to be an artist when I realised that my poetry is worth more to me than having money. Unfortunately, that’s where a lot of artists start. I left a full-time retail job and lived hard for the art! I’m just glad it paid off in the past year.

S: Did you do formal training, learn on-the-job, or a bit of both?
JO: In the few years leading up to the National Poetry Slam, I trained myself in my bedroom. I think you’re the hardest on yourself, the worst critic… but that can be a good thing! It just requires patience, forgiveness, determination and being able to recognise when something’s finished.

S: Describe your artistic practice.
JO: Usually my best work comes to me around 11pm when I’m falling asleep and I annoy my girlfriend by jumping out of bed and scrambling for a pen in the dark. Once I have these sleepy scribbles I make sure I make time to workshop them for performance. It’s a lot easier with the Star-Crossed crew because we have scheduled meetings. Every one of the team inspires me with their unique styles and it’s easy to roll with each other’s poetry. Two things we do always ensures a great session; laughs and food.

Jesse Oliver
Jesse Oliver, winner of the 2017 Australian Poetry Slam Championship.

S: Career highlight so far?
JO: October 15, 2017. After months of daily practise, I won the Australian Poetry Slam Championship at the Sydney Opera House to a crowd of 600+. Since then, I’ve been blessed with amazing opportunities like directing the National Young Writers’ Festival, a world tour and of course, starting my Star-Crossed crew.

S: Career lowlight?
JO: Not winning in 2015. I missed out on attending the Sydney final by half a point, and was so ready to give up poetry all together as I battled social anxiety. But on the plus side, it’s the same time that I met the amazing Perth Poetry community (SHOUT OUT!) and it was like a warm hug through a dark time of my life.

Seesaw: What do you love most about what you do?
JO: The intimacy, connection and liberation that comes from sharing yourself. Poetry is personal, when I’m on stage with a poem that’s true to who I am I feel like I’m flying. After the social anxiety thing, it’s the most amazing feeling to be fearless in your words and to have people clicking your truth. That’s the connection, having a whole room on the same page. (Fun Fact: Clicks are a poet’s applause, as clapping is thought to throw off a performance)

S: Tell us about your 2018 Fringe show, Star-Crossed Poetry!
JO: Star-Crossed Poetry is a brand-new show! It’s actually based on my own love life, told through poetry, rap and storytelling. I’m performing alongside some of Perth’s most talented young writers; Laundry Man, Demie Scally, Saoirse Nash and Jake “Wiseguy” Sulli. It’s a light hearted, funny journey through four stages of being in love; love, heartbreak, meaningless sex and something more. We’re all really excited to show it to the world!

S: What made you decide to give Fringe World a whirl?
JO: Some of the SC crew and I were heading back to Perth from the National Young Writers Festival. So we were hanging at the Sydney airport terminal when I saw that the Fringe registrations were open, and to be honest, also closing that night in exactly one hour. I have never mobile typed so fast in my life. But underlying this, I’ve just always wanted to do one. Also, sometimes I just cheekily want to see what I’m capable of, I’ve spent too long living in fear. Sometimes I surprise myself, other times I fall flat on my face. Thankfully, this crew has been the coolest thing I have ever put together.

 

S: What is your favourite playground equipment?
JO: I am NOT a fan of slides… When I was about eight I went down one after a kid who had peed himself and it’s never been the same for me. I like the weird animal things that are on a big spring, to this day I cannot resist a quick go.

Star Crossed Poetry’ plays Mezzanine Bar at Cheeky Sparrow and the Common Room at Paper Mountain, 29 January – 4 February.

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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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Features, News, Visual arts

Best of beads

Tiny and colourful, fiddly and fun, iron-together beads have been keeping children occupied for over 50 years. But can they be made into “art”?

Johanna Acs and Alina Tang, artistic collaborators and best friends.

Absolutely YES, says Jolina (local visual artists Johanna Acs and Alina Tang).  The pair are putting together an exhibition of works made out of the ubiquitous beads as part of Fringe World 2018. Entitled “Bead Friends Forever”, we think this project sounds like Seesaw’s kinda thing! The bead buddies took a few minutes to tell us more about the show and their work.

Seesaw: What do you love most about what you do?
Jolina: We love being surrounded by colourful objects and our dearest friends. The fabulous thing about what we do is the community and friends that we are surrounded by! People always respond in a positive way to the enthusiasm, friendliness and colour that we bring to each project, so we are lucky to be constantly attracting an engaged, kind, and generous audience. We, of course, also love each others’ company and making ourselves laugh with silly jokes!

S: Tell us about your 2018 Fringe show!
J: In a nutshell, “Bead Friends Forever” is a collaborative show celebrating friendship and colour. We are in the process of creating hundreds of small, magical objects out of iron-together beads that we used to play with as children, which will be arranged on the Blank Slate gallery wall to create a spectacular and vibrant wall work.

Though most of the beads are created by us, part of the exhibition is celebrating not just our 23 year long friendship but also friendship in general, which is why we have invited some of our dearest buds to make their own bead creations to feature in the show. You can look forward to seeing smiling flowers, small babies, cakes, rainbows, fruits, booby houses, happy clouds, sad clouds, and more!

We are running two very special workshops, Sunday 28 January at Paper Mountain, open to all bead friends of all ages, please email us at friendbead@gmail.com for more information and to join in!

S: Are you new to Fringe World?
J: This is the first time we are working together as a duo at Fringe! In the past Johanna has helped Alina out with a solo project called Guilt Flowers (2015), a very sweet set-up at the Pleasure Gardens in which we gave out flowers. Unfortunately we were next to a kissing booth run by a lovely man named Paul, which caused some confusion for some inebriated Fringe-goers who were very prepared to pay for a kiss from us. We hope to avoid that kind of confusion this year.

S: Aside from your show, what are you looking forward to seeing/doing at Fringe?
J: As longtime fans and supporters of the wonderful Paper Mountain, we are super excited to explore all that the Peaks program has to offer! In particular, “The World’s Tiniest Zine Fair” looks like a lot of fun. We’ve always been huge fans of anything tiny and adorable.

“Bead Friends Forever” is showing at Paper Mountain, 27-31 January 2018. 

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Calendar, January 18, Visual arts

Fringe World: Bead Friends Forever

27-30 January @ The Common Room at Paper Mountain, 267 William Street Northbridge •
Presented by Jolina •

Bead Friends Forever is a collaborative exhibition between best friends Alina Tang and Johanna Acs. After 22 years of friendship we are finally making art together!

Join us at Paper Mountain for a bright and colourful installation that includes small magical objects made from iron on beads, such as smiling flowers, booby houses, small babies, fruits, cakes with candles, cupcakes, lollies, rainbows, pizzas, happy clouds and sad clouds, all made with the help of our closest buds.

Both adults and kids will have the opportunity to create their very own bead creations in a series of workshops running in conjunction with the exhibition.

More info: https://fringeworld.com.au/whats_on/bead-friends-forever-fw2018

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