Single dancer to the right of image
August 19, Calendar, Dance, July 19, Performing arts

Dance: Bangarra: 30 years of sixty five thousand

31 Jul – 3 Aug @ State Theatre Centre of WA ·
Presented by Bangarra Dance Theatre ·

Bangarra Dance Theatre celebrates its landmark 30th anniversary season this year with Bangarra: 30 years of sixty five thousand; a stunning display of contemporary dance embarking on the company’s largest national tour from June to October.

Bangarra: 30 years of sixty five thousand is a three-part program, combining a re-staging of Frances Rings’ monumental Unaipon (Clan, 2004), Stamping Ground by acclaimed Czech choreographer Jiří Kylián, and a powerful collection of dance stories – to make fire – from the company’s 30-year history curated by Bangarra Artistic Director Stephen Page and Head of Design, Jacob Nash.

These works will be performed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists from across Australia,  who come together as a creative clan to harness a shared spirit and deliver a program representative of the world’s stage and the company’s best work.

More info:
www.ptt.wa.gov.au/venues/state-theatre-centre-of-wa/whats-on/bangarra-30-years-of-sixty-five-thousand/

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An exhilarating ride

Review: Rachel Arianne Ogle, precipice ·
Studio Underground, State Theatre of WA, 29 May ·
Review by Nina Levy ·

Silence.
Two thin beams of light mark the stage with a giant “x”. A dancer in each corner.
Standing. Waiting.

From the opening moments of precipice, local independent choreographer Rachel Arianne Ogle places the viewer on edge. The prolonged silence at the start of the piece – before two of the four dancers tip off-balance into a run – sets the scene for a work in which movement, light and sound unite to repeatedly push the dancers and, by extension, the audience to that edge… to the precipice.

It’s a wild ride; visceral and invigorating. Though the work is abstract, there are clear arcs – sensual rather than narrative. And though precipice is unquestionably a contemporary dance work – the movement is often athletic in that way that makes you draw your breath sharply – it’s the deft interweaving of the choreography with the lighting and visual design by Benjamin Cisterne and score/soundscape by Luke Smiles that makes the ride feel so immersive.

Niharika Senapati and Tyrone Robinson in the 2014 season of 'precipice'..
The female dancers become perilous dolls: Niharika Senapati and Tyrone Robinson in the 2014 season of ‘precipice’.. Photo: Traianos Pakioufakis.

And finally, though it is designed around ramping up the senses, there is a poetic quality that infiltrates precipice. Now the stage is sliced in two by one of those beams of light from the opening. Against a swathe of ghostly electronic sounds, we see a dancer (the wonderful Tyrone Robinson) twisting, falling, staggering, limping. On the other side of the line, the remaining three dancers (Niharika Senapati, Yilin Kong and Linton Aberle) move through a series of supine tilts, rolls and suspensions that trace circular patterns on the floor and through the air.

Those circular patterns repeat throughout; we see them again as the two female dancers move through balances in which their legs and arms bring to mind the hands of a clock marching endlessly through time.

Though it’s hard to pick favourite sections (there are many), the synchronised male-female duos are a highlight. Apparently immobile, the female dancers become perilous dolls, to be manipulated by the male dancers who diligently insert themselves between the women and the floor. This morphs into a dance of fanning and falling counterbalances as the lighting gently oscillates between warmth and cool. The strength and focus required to pull off this movement material is considerable and on opening night, Aberle, Kong, Robinson and Senapati ensured this section had the audience mesmerised.

Another memorable movement phrase sees the dancers lie across one another as though their bodies have been plaited. To a soundscape of lightly pattering beats interspersed with electronic surges, a pattern of planks and folds ripples through the quartet; a strange caterpillar labouring through a field of light circles.

Storm Helmore, Tyrone Robinson, Imanuel Dado and Niharika Senapati in the 2014 season of 'precipice. Photo: Traianos Pakioufakis
Though the work is abstract, there are clear arcs: Storm Helmore, Tyrone Robinson, Imanuel Dado and Niharika Senapati in the 2014 season of ‘precipice. Photo: Traianos Pakioufakis

There is relatively little to separate audience and performer at the Studio Underground and in the penultimate scenes of precipice, the energy from the stage feels encompassing. Engine-like noises become increasingly loud and urgent as the dancers variously move as one, separate, pause, and explode into the space. The tension builds and builds until, with a blinding flash of light, it hits an almost unbearable peak. No spoilers – you’ll have to see the show to find out what happens next.

As aforementioned precipice depends heavily on the physical and mental discipline of its dancers. On opening night Aberle, Kong, Robinson and Senapati gave an outstanding performance.

This is not precipice’s first outing. The work was originally presented in the same theatre in 2014. As Ogle notes, it is rare that independent work is granted a second outing. Watching precipice for a second time, it’s easy to see why the State Theatre Centre of WA and Perth Theatre Trust chose to break with tradition and program this work.

Together with her creative team, Ogle has made a work that is exhilarating.

precipice plays the Studio Underground until June 1.

The sequel to precipice, i have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night, plays PICA, June 5-8.

Read a Q&A with Rachel Arianne Ogle about the two works here.

Pictured top is a scene from the 2014 season of ‘precipice’. Photo: Traianos Pakioufakis.

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Back to back

Thanks to funding constraints, it’s rare to see a body of work by one independent choreographer, and even rarer to see independent works remounted. In the next two weeks, however, Perth audiences will  be have the chance to experience both. A remount of Rachel Arianne Ogle’s 2014 work precipice, will be closely followed by a season of its 2019 sequel, i have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night. Nina Levy sat down with Ogle to learn more.

Rachel Arianne Ogle. Photo: Pedro Greig.

Nina Levy: precipice was your first full length work… how did the concept for this work come into being?
Rachel Arianne Ogle: precipice began as an exploration of various physical states in opposition. In my own movement practice I have always explored a physicality of being off balance – generating and riding momentum, falling and surrendering weight to gravity – to take risk and play more in the extremes of the unknown. This physicality informed my creative interests for this work. As I explored a series of physical provocations through movement, the larger concepts of the work began to reveal themselves to me. I have always been fascinated with space and the universe, and as the movement ideas developed it became apparent these concepts were all very much alive in the work. From there the work began to guide me, and tell me what it was about.

NL: And talk me through the creative process of making that work…
RAO: When I began to create precipice, I had no ambition to be a choreographer. But I had arrived at a point in my artistic life where I had some ideas that I was curious to play with and, for the first time, I felt like I was ready to do that with some bodies in space that weren’t my own. It was really the first time that I had stepped out from being on the inside, in an attempt to explore something, which shifted my focus considerably.

I would often start with a simple image, and then allow that image to invite my imagination and intuition to guide me, while offering the perspective of being the outside eye to what was unfolding. It was only at the end of the first stage development, that I realised I was making a show. From there, it continued to grow for two and half years before we arrived at the premiere season in 2014.

Tyrone Robinson and Storm Helmore in Rachel Arianne Ogle’s ‘Precipice’ (2014). Photo: Traianos Pakioufakis.

NL: It’s not often that independent works get a second outing. What’s it been like remounting the work?
RAO: It is an incredible privilege, so rarely afforded to an independent artist, to be able to revisit work in repertoire. It is invaluable to have the opportunity to reflect on where I have come from, and to consider the work in the context of, and relevance to, my creative present. I see my history, my lineage, and my influences in this work – but I also see a moment in time when I was beginning to unearth and trust my own creative voice, and my crafting of ideas.

The opportunity to be back working with the dancers, and to see how far they have come in the five years since we premiered… their own maturing as artists and performers brings a whole new depth to the work. At the same time, new cast members hold me accountable to justifying the work and the decisions I have made within it, as we transmit the information to new bodies. It has been a very short and intense remount period, but an incredibly joyful and rewarding one.

NL: Your design team for the two works (Luke Smiles – sound composition and Benjamin Cisterne – visual design) is a dream team. How did you come to work with these two creatives?
RAO:Ben, Luke and I all worked together with Melbourne dance company, Phillip Adams’ BalletLab, so we had been friends for many years. Luke is also a dancer, and he and I performed together in one of Phillip’s shows for which Ben was lighting designer, which we all toured to the US in 2007. Alongside his career as a dancer, Luke always had his parallel career as a composer/sound designer, through which he has a long history of collaborating with Ben. I had always thought that if I ever created work, I would love to have them both as the design team. To be honest, I think I just got lucky that when that time came, they both said yes.

Tyrone Robinson, Imanuel Dado, Storm Helmore and Niharika Senapati in the 2014 debut of ‘precipice’.

NL: Did you always envisage a sequel to precipice? How did the idea for i have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night  have come about?
RAO: i have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night began from a design concept that has a momentary presence in precipice. During the production week in the theatre for precipice in 2014, my design collaborators – Ben and Luke – and myself, began to discuss the potential for that design element to have a show of its own. So it started from there, and the work became a response to the design. Because the design element was born from precipice, it always felt very connected to that work. And conceptually the work continues the themes of where precipice arrives at its end, but also takes it in a different direction… like going down a different worm hole. It very much feels like an offer of what comes next, or like “the other side” of precipice – therein being its sequel.

NL: What made you decide to make a solo work this time?
RAO: i have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night was always going to be a work for a solo performer, I think, largely due to the design concept we were working with and what felt appropriate for that. It never felt like a question that the performer would be me. This work is incredibly personal to me so I felt like somehow I didn’t have a choice in it… the work had already demanded that it come directly through me to the audience.

NL: And talk me through that creative process…
RAO: We watched a lot of science fiction films! And had many nerd discussions about space stuff… like black holes, the warping and manipulation of time and space, death, and what lies beyond. These filmic references unconsciously and inevitably fed into the work. During the first development we kept finding ourselves sitting for long periods of time just watching the lights and sound interact with the installation. We eventually realised that this hypnotic state that we were being drawn into was the experience we wanted for the audience. Once we made that decision it was about shaping and refining the elements to create that experience, and exploring the relationship of the body to that environment. Placing the body inside of the installation added the human element and completely shifted the perspective. The interaction of the body with the moving lights in front of the installation, created a visual illusion, distorting the perception of the reality the viewer is seeing. It was quite a magical discovery, and for me that sense of warping reality is really the essence of the work.

Choreographically, I originally started developing some improvisation scores, exploring different qualities and textures, and states of transition. However the more we explored the dialogue of the body with the installation, the more we realised that I needed to do less. So it became a process of stripping back. The choreography became quite distilled, but very rigorous in terms of the tension and focus in the body.

We further developed the work during a residency at EMPAC (Experimental Media and Performing Arts Centre) in New York in 2017. We continued to develop these ideas by integrating a live feed of radio communications from different airports around the world, which directly manipulates the lights and the sound. Ben and Luke then respond to this stimulus in real-time, shaping the already moving lights and sound into an improvised score and structure. So they are live onstage with me creating the design in real-time, and the work is slightly different every performance as a result.

NL: What’s next after these back-to-back seasons?
RAO: I am currently developing a new work, which is my most ambitious to date in terms of scale and vision. I am planning a design development for this work later this year, and will undertake a larger development with the dancers early in 2020. I will also be creating a smaller site-specific work in Tasmania in August, and undertaking some international travel to participate in a 3 month intensive improvisation project in Brussels later in the year. I’m dreaming up lots of new projects at the moment… so stay tuned!

precipice plays the State Theatre Centre of WA, May 29 – June 1.

i have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night plays PICA, June 5-8.

Pictured top is Rachel Arianne Ogle in ‘I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night’. Photo: Mick Bello.

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A woman (Katherine Gurr) tries to hold back two men (Ian Wilkes and Andrew Searle)
Dance, News, Performing arts, Reviews

A richly layered work

Review: Co3 Australia, The Line ·
Heath Ledger Theatre, State Theatre of WA, 16 May ·
Review by Nina Levy ·

At the heart of Co3 Australia’s latest contemporary dance work, The Line, is a story of racial segregation.

This story may be unfamiliar to many West Australians, but it’s part of our not-so-distant past. Between 1927 and 1954, there was a law in place that banned Aboriginal people from entering the City of Perth’s boundaries after 6pm, unless they could prove that they were in “lawful employment”. The work’s title refers to the boundary lines of what was known as the Prohibited Area.

It’s a tough topic to tackle, particularly through the non-verbal medium of dance. Nonetheless, The Line’s directors – Co3 Artistic Director Raewyn Hill and Artistic Associate Mark Howett – have created a work that resists the temptation of a simple plot. Though interspersed with narrative elements, it is up to the audience to draw the threads together.

What we do see is an Aboriginal man (Noongar dancer Ian Wilkes) and a white woman (Katherine Gurr), who appear to be a couple. They are repeatedly pursued, interrogated and attacked by a man – some kind of policing officer – played by Andrew Searle.

The design elements of the work are immediately striking. As the curtain rises we see seven swings hanging from the fly loft, suspended by long chains that slice the space. A narrow tube of light crosses the darkened back of the stage, intersecting the vertical lines of the swings. Perched high above the dancers, it appears stationary… but time will reveal otherwise. In the dim, hazy light, the atmosphere is eerie as two dancers (Wilkes and Gurr) make lazy, sweeping arcs, on symmetrically placed swings. The peace is broken as the official-type man shouts loudly “YOU!” and mayhem ensues.

A man hold his hand like a gun to another man's jaw.
Constant tension: Ian Wilkes and Andrew Searle. Photo: Daniel Carson

From here the choreography oscillates between anguish and slapstick. Though the conflict is primarily between the Aboriginal and the white man, all three characters seem to be constantly wrestling with one another, and with themselves. The tension rarely lets up, and though this is, no doubt, intentional, it’s exhausting to watch. An exception is a gorgeously soft solo that blends Auslan signs with gestures from traditional Aboriginal dance (beautifully danced by Wilkes), followed by the soothing to-and-fro of the three dancers swinging, bathed in pyramids of light.

It can’t last though and soon we’re plunged back into the cartoon-like violence that punctuates the work. Though horrifying to watch, these repeating scenes of slow-motion violence are fascinating for the skill of both choreography and execution.

Throughout the work, Eden Mulholland’s score is, quite simply, fabulous. Played live in the main, the layers of sound range from long and eerie notes interspersed with storms of recorded voiceovers and ominous rumblings, to a rollicking, romping, 1930s jazz vibe. With James Crabb on classical accordion and Mulholland on a startling array of instruments (various guitars, piano, synthesizer, vocals, percussion), the music is a glorious performance in itself.

The design elements of this work are exceptional too, and with such a rich visual and musical backdrop, a cast of three – the number dictated, presumably, by budget limitations – seems too small, especially in relation to the scope of the issues that the work is tackling. It seems odd, too, to have only one Aboriginal performer, given the work’s context.

That said, the three dancers gave compelling performances on opening night, displaying admirable physical and emotional stamina. Though the duo and trio work was impressive, it was in their solo moments that each dancer shone brightest, Searle slicing and dicing, Gurr arching and melting, and Wilkes gently gesturing.

The repetitive structure of this work, in combination with the near-constant tension, feels unrelenting and – ultimately – unresolved. Though these artistic choices are effective, in terms of representing the discrimination that Aboriginal people have suffered and continue to suffer, personally, I found myself longing for relief.

But perhaps that was the point. Around me, audience members rose to their feet to applaud.

The Line plays until May 19.

Read an interview with directors Raewyn Hill and Mark Howett.

Pictured top are Ian Wilkes, Katherine Gurr and Andrew Searle in “The Line”. Photo: Daniel Carson.

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2 contemporary dancers on stage
Calendar, Dance, June 19, May 19, Performing arts

Dance: precipice

29 May – 1 Jun @ Studio Underground, State Theatre Centre of WA ·
Presented by State Theatre Centre of WA and Rachel Arianne Ogle ·

Inspired by tectonic shifts, gravitational torsion and states of emotional rupture, ‘precipice’ is a dance of abandon and precarious control. Australian choreographer Rachel Arianne Ogle wields her technical and extremely physical style to draw immense unseen forces in the bodies of four dancers.

Ogle has assembled leading performance designers to create a multi-sensory experience where choreography unfolds within an electrifying light and sound installation. Contrasting precision and strength with mounting tension and fragility, this is a bold and unique work of contemporary dance from one of Australia’s rising choreographic artists.

precipice returns to the State Theatre Centre of WA after premiering here in August 2014 to critical acclaim. It was subsequently nominated for a Helpmann Award for ‘Best Dance Work’ and an Australian Dance Award for ‘Outstanding Achievement in Independent Dance’ in 2015.

“precipice began its life as an exploration of various physical states in opposition. It very quickly grew to take on a voice and direction of its own, to transcend my initial points of departure and delve into territory encompassing grander concepts of the universe. The infinite space in which we exist and to which we are intimately interconnected, and the invisible forces that are constantly at play within this, are beyond the realm of my conception. Through considering our place in this immense system, we unveil a profound vulnerability and fragility that is both ephemeral and enigmatic.” – Rachel Arianne Ogle

“A knockout production… Rapid high-tech triggers transport us into an expansive universe through light, sound and dance… a ticket to another dimension” – The West Australian

“An intriguing visual feast… the resultant whole assaulting the senses and stirring emotions.” – Artshub

Choreography by Rachel Arianne Ogle
Performance by Tyrone Robinson, Niharika Senapati, Yilin Kong, Imanuel Dado
Visual Design by Benjamin Cisterne
Sound Composition by Luke Smiles / motion laboratories
Costume Design by Colleen Sutherland
Produced by Sam Fox

More info:
www.ptt.wa.gov.au/venues/state-theatre-centre-of-wa/whats-on/precipice/

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Katherine Gurr and Ian Wilkes rehearsing The Line
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Telling a tough West Australian tale

Co3 Australia’s new work The Line investigates a darker side of Western Australia’s past and its impact on the present, discovers Nina Levy.

Say the word “apartheid” and most people will think of the regime of racial segregation implemented by the South African government from 1948 until the early 1990s.

Mark Howett and Raewyn Hill in rehearsal. Photo: Daniel Carson | dcimges.org

But legislated racial discrimination is a part of Australian history too and it’s this story that WA’s state contemporary dance company Co3 Australia is telling in its new work The Line, co created by Co3 Artistic Director and choreographer Raewyn Hill and Co3 Associate Artist Mark Howett, a Noongar man and a director and designer for theatre, dance, opera and film.

The title The Line refers to a law, passed in 1927, that prohibited Aboriginal people from coming within the boundary lines of the City of Perth – an area of about five square kilometres – after 6.00pm, unless they could prove that they were in “lawful employment”. The land inside the boundaries was referred to as the Prohibited Area, and only those Aboriginal people with a special “native pass” were allowed to pass through it after the 6pm curfew.

In spite of the fact that the legislation remained in place for over 20 years, this piece of West Australian history isn’t well-known today and that’s one of the reasons that Hill and Howett have chosen it as the starting point for Co3 Australia’s latest work. It’s also relevant to the company’s mission, says Hill. “Part of Co3’s artistic vision is to situate the artistic program within our people, our culture, our community, our land, our Country, our experiences, our history,” she elaborates. “Every work developed in Co3’s repertoire will have some reference to WA.”

Andrew Searle and Ian Wilkes rehearsing ‘The Line’. Photo: Daniel Carson | dcimges.org

This isn’t the first time that Hill and Howett have worked together. As artistic director of WA’s Ochre Contemporary Dance Company, Howett convinced Hill to come out of performance retirement to dance in his physical theatre work Good Little Soldier in 2017. The pair knew they wanted to collaborate again, so when Hill started looking for WA stories, Howett was an obvious person to approach.

“We started talking about Roe St and the possibility of making a piece that related to something near the State Theatre Centre of WA (where The Line will be performed),” recalls Howett. “I said, ‘You know that we’re really in the heart of the Prohibited Area, in the theatre.’” Hill then gave Howett Stephen Kinnane’s Shadow Lines to read, a book that tells the story of Kinnane’s grandparents, an Aboriginal woman and an Englishman, and the challenges they faced, as a result of their different racial backgrounds, in early to mid-twentieth century WA. Shadow Lines details many of the hardships and cruelties faced by Aboriginal people at the hands of the Government, including the Prohibited Area.

“The conversation really took off from there,” says Howett. “We thought that there was something in [that book] that was pretty remarkable, in a way… and in the lack of [awareness amongst] most West Australians about the Prohibited Area, and its impact on the Noongar community, and Aboriginal community in general.”

Talking to Noongar elders Lynette Narkle, Richard Walley, Darryl Kickett and Anna Haebich has played a big role in shaping The Line, says Hill. “I remember saying to Mark – not so long ago – that I was worried, because I couldn’t find the core [of the story]. He said to me, ‘Don’t worry, the elders will bring the story.’ And they did. We always knew [the story] was around the concept of the Prohibited Area: separation, segregation, confinement … but … speaking with the Elders I felt they brought the story of recognition, reconciliation, empathy, compassion, healing.”

And though the story is (loosely) set in Perth of the 1930s, the focus is very much on the present, says Hill. “Talking to people, [we’ve found that many] didn’t even realise that [the Prohibited Area] existed. We’ve sort of uncovered something about our past and then we’ve made a narrative about that, but we talk about the impact on how we are currently, rather than saying here’s a story about [our past].

“So instead of saying, ‘Here’s a story about the Prohibited Area,’ we’re saying, ‘What did that [legislation] do to us as a community, as people? How did that shape our current situation?’”

It’s important to Hill and Howett, too, that audiences understand that while the Prohibited Area may be a thing of the past, discrimination continues today, in other guises.

“I find the parallels [between Australian society of the past and the present] remarkable,” says Howett. “The 2003 Curfew Act – which was another welfare policy by the State Government to take unaccompanied minors off the street and had a big impact on the Aboriginal community – was really, in a way, no different to the policy of the Prohibited Area and having to have a native pass. The parallels keep coming. Like, for example, most of the Aboriginal people who were taken to Wadjemup (Rottnest), [when it was a prison for Aboriginal people during the 1800s and early 1900s] were arrested for larceny and petty crimes, and you only have to think of the young Noongar actor just sent to jail for unpaid fines… the echoes of that are really remarkable.”

Hill agrees. “It’s a story that’s alive and well, it’s more than current.”

It’s also, Hill acknowledges, “very difficult subject matter, it’s filled with trauma and it’s dark, and there’s a lot of pain.”

So how to present that on stage?

“The way we’ve been dealing with it on a narrative level is we’ve been using slapstick when it gets really heavy, drawing from silent movies,” explains Howett.

“We’ve been looking at Charlie Chaplin, silent movies, looking at the irony of his storytelling and how he could address darkness with no voice and just through mime,” continues Hill. “That’s been a real inspiration.

“It’s not about dumbing it down or cheapening it, but we’ve been able to talk about some really dark things through humour. So in fact we’ve probably gone even a bit darker… but it doesn’t necessarily feel like that. You are left laughing and laughter is something that brings us together, as a community. It’s a common language.

“Mark is extraordinary at telling a story. That’s what brings us together as makers. What I’m intrigued about, as a maker, is finding different ways of telling that story where you mute the voice, or the voice sits outside of the physical body. So we’ve been playing with that, and that’s enabled a whole new movement language.”

Ian Wilkes and Andrew Searle rehearsing ‘The Line’. Photo: Daniel Carson | dcimges.org

Talking to Hill and Howett, it’s apparent that they approach the process of making the work from opposite perspectives, but rather than clashing, they complement one another.

“Mark has a phenomenal ability to direct, to find narrative, to tell stories and I don’t think I do!” Hill laughs before continuing, “The combination of Mark’s direction, with my movement imagery and language… we feel like these sit quite beautifully together.”

For Howett, Hill’s dance knowledge is a gift. “It’s great for me, as a maker, to have someone who understands the mechanics of the body much more [than I do],” he muses. “I can often see something that’s not working [for the dancers], but don’t really know how to fix it mechanically. Raewyn will really easily resolve it. She does a little dance horse-whispering.”

The Line plays the State Theatre Centre of WA, May 15-19.

Pictured top are dancers Katherine Gurr and Ian Wilkes rehearsing ‘The Line’. Photo: Stefan Gosatti.

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2018 PAWA Award winners holding their certificates
Dance, Features, News, Performing arts, Theatre

And the winners are…

The 2018 Performing Arts WA (PAWA) Awards were held Monday 28 April, at the State Theatre Centre of Western Australia. Presented annually, these WA-based industry awards have traditionally celebrated outstanding achievement in theatre. In 2018, however, the PAWA Awards were expanded to include a selection of prizes for dance, making for a record number of awards presented on the night. The excitement, too, was heightened, as representatives from both art-forms came together to recognise the achievements of artists and companies across the two disciplines.

Congratulations to the winners of the 2018 Performing Arts WA Awards:

DANCE AWARDS

Best Production presented by Bendigo Bank North Perth: Dust on the Shortbread – Anything Is Valid Dance Theatre

Best Performer (Female) Ella-Rose Trew.

Best New Work presented by Bendigo Bank North Perth: Krzysztof Pastor – Dracula, West Australian Ballet

Best Newcomer presented by MEAA: Luci Young – Frank Enstein, Co3 Australia

Oscar Valdes and partner
Best Performer (Male): Oscar Valdés with Sophia Raine.

Best Performer (Male): Oscar Valdés – La Sylphide, West Australian Ballet

Best Performer (Female): Ella-Rose Trew – WA Dance Makers Project, Co3 Australia

Best Director or Choreographer: Grayson Millwood and Gavin Webber – Frank Enstein, made by The Farm in collaboration with Co3 Australia

 

THEATRE AWARDS

Julia Hales holding two awards
Winner of the award for Best New Work, ‘You Know We Belong Together’ writer and performer Julia Hales.

Best Mainstage Production presented by Hawaiian: You Know We Belong Together – A Black Swan, Perth Festival and DADAA Co-Production

Director of ‘Frankie’s’ (Best Independent Production) Libby Klysz.

Best Independent Production presented by Bendigo Bank North Perth: Frankie’s – The Blue Room Theatre and Variegated Productions

Best New Work presented by Bendigo Bank North Perth: Julia Hales with Finn O’Branagain and Clare Watson – You Know We Belong Together, A Black Swan, Perth Festival and DADAA Co-Production

Best Newcomer presented by MEAA: Mackenzie Dunn – Assassins & Summer of the Seventeenth Doll, Black Swan State Theatre Company

Best Supporting Actor (Male): Will O’Mahony – Assassins, Black Swan State Theatre Company

Best Supporting Actor (Female): Morgan Owen – Court My Crotch, The Blue Room Theatre & FUGUE

Best Actor in a Mainstage Production (Female), Amy Mathews.

Best Actor in a Mainstage Production (Male) presented by Artist Management Australia: Kelton Pell – Summer of the Seventeenth Doll, Black Swan State Theatre Company

Best Actor in a Mainstage Production (Female) presented by Moore Creative Artists: Amy Mathews – Summer of the Seventeenth Doll, Black Swan State Theatre Company

St John Cowcher
Best Actor in an Independent Production (Male): St John Cowcher.

Best Actor in an Independent Production (Male) presented by Media Super: St John Cowcher – Frankie’s, The Blue Room Theatre and Variegated Productions

Best Actor in an Independent Production (Female) presented by Media Super: Frieda Lee – The Inconsequential Lives of Little Fish, The Blue Room Theatre and Frieda, Sam and Friends

Best Director of a Mainstage Production: Adam Mitchell – Summer of the Seventeenth Doll, Black Swan State Theatre Company

Scott McArdle holding his award
Scott McArdle, winner of the award for Best Director of an Independent Production.

Best Director of an Independent Production presented by Gage Roads: Scott McArdle – Josephine!, The Blue Room Theatre Summer Nights and Second Chance Theatre

 

THEATRE & DANCE: PRODUCTION AWARDS

Best Sound Design: Eden Mulholland – In-Lore Act II as part of WA Dance Makers Project, Co3 Australia

Best Lighting Design: Joe Lui – Love/Less, Kynan Hughes & MoveMe Festival

Tyler Hill, winner of the award for Best Stage Design.

Best Stage Design: Tyler Hill – Hir, Black Swan State Theatre Company

Best Costume Design: Charles Cusick Smith – Dracula, West Australian Ballet

Michael Brett, winner of the award for Best Composition or Arranging.

Best Composition or Arranging: Michael Brett – Dracula, West Australian Ballet

To see the list of nominees, head to www.seesawmag.com.au/news/2018-performing-arts-wa-awards-nominations

Pictured top are the happy winners with the State Member for Perth, John Carey.

All photos: Rebecca Mansell.

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A woman is striking a pose. A man is dancing.
News, Reviews, Theatre

A call for belonging

Review: Black Swan State Theatre Company, You Know We Belong Together ·
Heath Ledger Theatre, State Theatre Centre of WA, 21 March ·
Review by Nina Levy ·

From the moment she welcomes us to the theatre, performer and writer Julia Hales has us in the palm of her hand. This is the encore season of her work You Know We Belong Together, created with director Clare Watson and writer and associate director Finn O’Branagáin. A co-production by Black Swan State Theatre Company, Perth Festival and Dadaa, You Know We Belong Together had its first outing at last year’s Perth Festival. In recognition, no doubt, of the success of the 2018 iteration, the show has moved upstairs into the Heath Ledger Theatre in 2019, with a run three times the length of the original.

Described in the programme as a “live documentary”, You Know We Belong Together is based around a series of vignettes comprised of monologues, filmed interviews, sketches and chats. With Hales at it centre, the work is driven by her dreams: to find love, and to be on the long-running television show Home and Away.

A woman sits at a coffee table another woman dances. In the background is a projection of a train station.
“When I dance I feel like myself”: Lauren Marchbank dances as Julia Hales looks on. Photo: Toni Wilkinson.

But there’s more to this show than personal aspirations. You Know We Belong Together is a passionate call for inclusivity for people with disability, in particular on stage and screen. A woman with Down syndrome, Hales gives us an insight into her life and the lives of some of her friends with Down syndrome. We meet dancer Lauren Marchbank, who moves with loose-limbed release; Joshua Bott, whose dance-style is all about funk; Tina Fielding, a performer and palm-reader who’s always up for a laugh; the gentle Patrick Carter, whose talents lie in both performing and visual arts; and Mark and Melissa Junor, who met at a dance class and have been happily married for almost 19 years.

A woman standing in front of a portrait of herself. Both have their arms extended up and out.
Julia Hales. Photo: Toni Wilkinson.

And then there’s Hales, who manages the show with warmth, humour and sensitivity, whether interviewing her friends about love or taking us on a guided tour of her life. Though she keeps us giggling with her references to Summer Bay and its residents (cleverly supported by Tyler Hill’s set design), she doesn’t shy away from the hard stuff. We learn of her struggles, as a young adult, to come to terms with the fact that she is a person with Down syndrome, and her ongoing grief for her late mother. It’s honest, poignant and, most importantly, relatable.

And so when she asks why we don’t see people with Down syndrome on shows like Home and Away, the injustice of this absence is striking. Why, indeed?

Together with the creative team and cast, Hales, O’Branagáin and Watson have brought to the stage an engaging work that quietly but firmly lets us know, it’s time for change.

It’s a message everyone should hear.

You Know We Belong Together runs until March 31. 

Pictured top are Julia Hales and Joshua Bott. Photo: Toni Wilkinson.

A woman stands with her hands clasped over her heart.
Julia Hales manages the show with warmth, humour and sensitivity. Photo: Toni Wilkinson.
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Features, News, Performing arts

2018 Performing Arts WA Awards nominations

The nominees for the 2018 Performing Arts WA (PAWA) Awards have been announced.

Traditionally covering theatre, in 2018 the PAWA Awards were expanded to include dance. The twelve theatre, six dance and five shared design awards will be presented at the 2018 PAWA Awards gala event, Monday 29 April, from 7pm, at the State Theatre Centre of Western Australia.

THEATRE AWARDS

Best Mainstage Production, presented by Hawaiian
Hir – Black Swan State Theatre Company
Stay With Us – The Last Great Hunt
Summer of the Seventeenth Doll – Black Swan State Theatre Company
Xenides – Black Swan State Theatre Company
You Know We Belong Together – A Black Swan, Perth Festival and DADAA Co-Production

Best Independent Production
Frankie’s – The Blue Room Theatre & Variegated Productions
godeatgod – The Blue Room Theatre Summer Nights & Squid Vicious
The Inconsequential Lives of Little Fish – The Blue Room Theatre & Frieda, Sam & Friends
Let me finish. – The Blue Room Theatre & Charlotte Otton
Unveiling: Gay Sex for Endtimes – The Blue Room Theatre & Renegade Productions

Best New Work
Samantha Chester & Ensemble – HIRO: The Man Who Sailed His House, Samantha Chester
Julia Hales with Finn O’Branagain and Clare Watson – You Know We Belong Together, A Black Swan, Perth Festival and DADAA Co-Production
Barbara Hostalek – Banned, Mudskipper Productions
Libby Klysz & Ensemble – Frankie’s, Variegated Productions
Terence Smith – 52 Hertz, Beyond the Yard

Best Newcomer
Cassidy Dunn – The Talk, The Last Great Hunt
Mackenzie Dunn – Assassins & Summer of the Seventeenth Doll, Black Swan State Theatre Company
Julia Hales – You Know We Belong Together, A Black Swan, Perth Festival and DADAA Co-Production
Frieda Lee – The Inconsequential Lives of Little Fish, The Blue Room Theatre & Frieda, Sam & Friends
Angela Mahlatjie – Let me finish., The Blue Room Theatre & Charlotte Otton

Best Supporting Actor (Male)
Geoff Kelso – Assassins, Black Swan State Theatre Company
Russell Leonard – Slap & Tickle, The Blue Room Theatre Summer Nights & The Kabuki Drop & WAYJO
Will O’Mahony – Assassins, Black Swan State Theatre Company
Igor Sas – Hir, Black Swan State Theatre Company
Mararo Wangai – Improvement Club, The Last Great Hunt

Best Supporting Actor (Female)
Caitlin Beresford-Ord – Assassins, Black Swan State Theatre Company
Mackenzie Dunn – Summer of the Seventeenth Doll, Black Swan State Theatre Company
Vivienne Garrett – Summer of the Seventeenth Doll, Black Swan State Theatre Company
Jo Morris – Josephine!, The Blue Room Theatre Summer Nights & Second Chance Theatre
Morgan Owen – Court My Crotch, The Blue Room Theatre & FUGUE

Best Actor in a Mainstage Production (Male), presented by Artist Management Australia
Jacob Allan – Summer of the Seventeenth Doll, Black Swan State Theatre Company
Gary Cooper – Skylab, Black Swan State Theatre Company & Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company
Sam Longley – Tom Vickers and the Extraordinary Adventure of his Missing Sock, Spare Parts Puppet Theatre & Western Australian Museum
Will O’Mahony – Hir, Black Swan State Theatre Company
Kelton Pell – Summer of the Seventeenth Doll, Black Swan State Theatre Company

Best Actor in a MainStage Production (Female), presented by Moore Creative Artists
Julia Hales – You Know We Belong Together, A Black Swan – Perth Festival and DADAA Co-Production
Monica Main – The Swash-Line Secret!, The WA Museum Shipwrecks Gallery
Amy Mathews – Summer of the Seventeenth Doll, Black Swan State Theatre Company
Toni Scanlan – Hir, Black Swan State Theatre Company
Alison van Reeken – Summer of the Seventeenth Doll, Black Swan State Theatre Company

Best Actor in an Independent Production (Male), presented by Media Super
Humphrey Bower – HIRO: The Man Who Sailed His House, The Blue Room Theatre & Samantha Chester
St John Cowcher – Frankie’s, The Blue Room Theatre & Variegated Productions
Sam Hayes – The Inconsequential Lives of Little Fish, The Blue Room Theatre & Frieda, Sam & Friends
iOTA – Slap & Tickle, The Blue Room Theatre Summer Nights & The Kabuki Drop & WAYJO
Andrew Sutherland – Unveiling: Gay Sex for Endtimes, The Blue Room Theatre & Renegade Productions

Best Actor in an Independent Production (Female), presented by Media Super
Holly Jones – Banned, The Blue Room Theatre & Mudskipper Productions
Frieda Lee – The Inconsequential Lives of Little Fish, The Blue Room Theatre & Frieda, Sam & Friends
Esther Longhurst – Frankie’s, The Blue Room Theatre & Variegated Productions
Della Rae Morrison – Banned, The Blue Room Theatre & Mudskipper Productions
Clare Testoni – The Beast and The Bride, The Blue Room Theatre Summer Nights & Bow & Dagger

Best Director of a Mainstage Production
Gita Bezard – The Talk, The Last Great Hunt
Jeffrey Jay Fowler – In The Next Room, or The Vibrator Play, Black Swan State Theatre
Company
Adam Mitchell – Summer of the Seventeenth Doll, Black Swan State Theatre Company
Zoe Pepper – Hir, Black Swan State Theatre Company
Clare Watson – You Know We Belong Together, A Black Swan, Perth Festival and DADAA Co-Production

Best Director of an Independent Production
Susie Conte – Lysistrata, Tempest Theatre
Libby Klysz – Frankie’s, The Blue Room Theatre & Variegated Productions
Joe Lui – Unveiling: Gay Sex for Endtimes, The Blue Room Theatre & Renegade Productions
Scott McArdle – Josephine!, The Blue Room Theatre Summer Nights & Second Chance Theatre
James McMillan – Court My Crotch, The Blue Room Theatre & FUGUE

DANCE AWARDS

Best Production
Dracula – West Australian Ballet
Dust on the Shortbread – Anything Is Valid Dance Theatre
Structural Dependency – Brooke Leeder & Dancers, with Louis Frere-Harvey, Nemo Gandossini-Poirier and Matthew Thorley
“WA Dance Makers Project” – Co3 Australia

Best New Work
Carly Armstrong, Jessica Lewis & Amy Wiseman – You Do Ewe, WA Dance Makers Project,
Unkempt Dance
Serena Chalker & Quindell Orton – Dust on the Shortbread, Anything Is Valid Dance Theatre
Brooke Leeder & Dancers – Structural Dependency
Krzysztof Pastor – Dracula, West Australian Ballet

Best Newcomer
Michelle Aitken – Future’s Eve, Paper Mountain
Tanya Brown – In-Lore Act II, WA Dance Makers Project, Co3 Australia
Sarah Sim – Structural Dependency, Brooke Leeder & Dancers & Natalie Allen’s Sisters Vice from In SITU, Emma Fishwick & Kynan Hughes in association with STRUT Dance, Tura New Music & Artrage
Luci Young – Frank Enstein, Co3 Australia

Best Performer (Male)
Eric Avery – Dancing with Strangers as part of “Burrbgaja Yalirra (Dancing Forwards)”, Marrugeku & PICA
Zachary Lopez – Frank Enstein, Co3 Australia
Andrew Searle – “WA Dance Makers Project”, Co3 Australia
Oscar Valdés – La Sylphide, West Australian Ballet

Best Performer (Female)
Floeur Alder – Beyond, Supported by Ochre Contemporary Dance Company
Marlo Benjamin – Love/Less, Kynan Hughes & MoveMe Festival
Ella-Rose Trew – “WA Dance Makers Project”, Co3 Australia
Miranda Wheen – Miranda as part of Burrbgaja Yalirra (Dancing Forwards), Marrugeku & PICA

Best Director or Choreographer
Kynan Hughes – Love/Less, Kynan Hughes & MoveMe Festival
Brooke Leeder – Structural Dependency, Brooke Leeder & Dancers
Grayson Millwood & Gavin Webber – Frank Enstein, Made by The Farm in collaboration with Co3 Australia
Unkempt Dance – You Do Ewe, WA Dance Makers Project, Co3 Australia

THEATRE & DANCE: PRODUCTION AWARDS

Best Sound Design
James Brown & Laurie Sinagra – Frank Enstein, Made by The Farm in collaboration with Co3 Australia
Ben Collins – Seeking basics needs and other tales of excess, PICA & Renée Newman with Ben Collins
Ben Collins – The Talk, The Last Great Hunt
Joe Lui – Unveiling: Gay Sex for Endtimes, The Blue Room Theatre & Renegade Productions
Eden Mulholland – In-Lore Act II as part of WA Dance Makers Project, Co3 Australia

Best Lighting Design
George Ashforth – Court My Crotch, The Blue Room Theatre & FUGUE
Matthew Cox – “Burrbgaja Yalirra (Dancing Forwards)”, Marrugeku & PICA
Joe Lui – Love/Less, Kynan Hughes & MoveMe Festival
Phoebe Pilcher – Unveiling: Gay Sex for Endtimes, The Blue Room Theatre & Renegade Productions
Trent Suidgeest – Summer of the Seventeenth Doll, Black Swan State Theatre Company

Best Stage Design
Maeli Cherel – The Inconsequential Lives of Little Fish, The Blue Room Theatre & Frieda, Sam & Friends
Stephen Curtis – “Burrbgaja Yalirra (Dancing Forwards)”, Marrugeku & PICA
Phil R. Daniels – Dracula, West Australian Ballet
Sohan Ariel Hayes – Ngarlimbah as part of “Burrbgaja Yalirra (Dancing Forwards)”, Marrugeku & PICA
Tyler Hill – Hir, Black Swan State Theatre Company
Rhys Morris – HIRO: The Man Who Sailed His House, The Blue Room Theatre & Samantha Chester

Best Costume Design
Alicia Clements – In The Next Room, or The Vibrator Play, Black Swan State Theatre Company
Stephen Curtis – “Burrbgaja Yalirra (Dancing Forwards)”, Marrugeku & PICA
Charles Cusick Smith – Dracula, West Australian Ballet
Lexi De Silva – La Sylphide, West Australian Ballet
Lynn Ferguson – Assassins, Black Swan State Theatre Company
Tarryn Gill – Hir, Black Swan State Theatre Company

Best Composition or Arranging
Michael Brett – Dracula, West Australian Ballet
Sascha Budimski – Love/Less, Kynan Hughes & MoveMe Festival
Georgina Cramond – Josephine!, The Blue Room Theatre Summer Nights & Second Chance Theatre
Ekrem Mülayim – HIRO: The Man Who Sailed His House, The Blue Room Theatre & Samantha Chester
Nat Pavlovic – Night Sweats, The Blue Room Theatre Summer Nights & Static Drive Co

Head to the Perth Theatre Trust website to book tickets for the 2018 PAWA Awards gala event.

Pictured top: Black Swan State Theatre Company’s production of ‘Hir’. Pictured: Will O’Mahony, Toni Scanlan and Igor Sas. Photo: Daniel James Grant.

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Juliet at her balcony
News, Reviews, Theatre

Students hit sweet spot

Review: Romeo and Juliet, WAAPA 3rd year Acting directed by Michael Jenn ·
Studio Underground, State Theatre Centre of WA, 16 March ·
Review by David Zampatti ·

I suffer from an unfortunate condition called Veronaphobia, brought on by a couple of productions of Romeo and Juliet so excruciating that good manners and the advice of my lawyer constrain me from identifying, other than to say that at the first the urge to flee at interval nearly overcame me, and at the second it did.

There’s a reason for the malady. Romeo and Juliet, while it is an extravagant achievement of the English language, can be a rose that smells too sweet.

Shakespeare (who, remember, was likely only 30 and six years into his career) had just discovered his mastery, and hurled it at everything he did with little restraint. For this reason his great early plays, Richard III and A Midsummer Night’s Dream among them, need to be handled with great control and command.

Lack either, and things can get very ugly very quickly.

Happily this production, performed by WAAPA’s third year Acting students, directed by the visiting British actor and director Michael Jenn, is an antidote to what ails me.

Camilla Ponte-Alvarez (Tybalt) and Ben Chapple (Samson). Photo: Jon Green.

He navigates his ill-fated lovers and their squabbling families towards the West Side Story point of the compass, without working that relocation too hard (I’m okay for a character to cross the stage on a Vespa, and street knives actually work better than rapiers in Andy Fraser’s fight scenes). Kara Rousseau’s set in the Studio Underground is timeless and functional; the balcony is a platform on scaffolding that doubles as the upper levels of villas and palaces above Verona’s dangerous streets.

Most importantly, Jenn allows his young actors to attempt Shakespeare’s lyrical text (only fifteen per cent of the play’s lines are in prose) with a natural, colloquial rhythm, and this gives it clarity and accessibility.

Even Shakespeare’s most audacious conceit, the sonnet “If I profane with my unworthy hand” injected into Romeo and Juliet’s love-making, is natural and unforced, while maintaining its aching beauty.

The supporting cast give strong, distinctive performances: in particular Bryn Chapman Parish and Saskia Archer are perfectly drawn as the grasping daughter-peddling Capulets, Mercutio is given a sassy humour not always afforded Tybalt’s pincushion by Peter Thurnwald, and Ruby Maishman’s Friar Lawrence brings much more than the traditional hapless meddler in the affairs of the heart.

Jonathan Lagudi is a tall, dark and handsome Romeo, well suited to love and be loved, but the play is always Juliet’s, the “splendid” Juliet as Harold Bloom described her, the prototype of all Shakespeare’s great heroines, his too-young Rosalind-in-waiting, the girl whose bounty is as boundless and deep as the sea.

Poppy Lynch is a beautiful Juliet, sensible, determined and ready for anything love and death can bestow on, and take from, her. There’s nothing ethereal about her Juliet, and she acts her age (something too often overlooked).

It’s a fine performance that caps a fine production.

Romeo and Juliet runs until March 21.

Poppy Lynch as Juliet and Jonathan Lagudi as Romeo are pictured top. Photo: Jon Green.

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