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Dance Massive 2009


 Da Contents H2

dance massive
March 15 2009
knowing pop
carl nilsson-polias: luke george, lifesize

March 14 2009
ensemble power
carl nilsson-polias: rogue: a volume problem, the counting, puck


simultaneities
virginia baxter: rogue: a volume problem, the counting, puck

March 13 2009
inner-scapes
carl nilsson-polias: splintergroup, lawn

March 12 2009
nothing hidden, much gained
carl nilsson-polias: lucy guerin inc, untrained

dance massive
reality dance
keith gallasch: lucy guerin inc, untrained


talking australian dance internationally
virginia baxter: ausdance, international dance massive delegation day

dance massive
March 11 2009
18 minutes in another town
virginia baxter: helen herbertson & ben cobham, morphia series


dancing the cosmic murmur
jana perkovic: shelley lasica, vianne

March 10 2009
dance party art
keith gallasch: 180 seconds in (disco) heaven or in hell

March 10 2009
passing strange
keith gallasch: jo lloyd's melbourne spawned a monster

dance massive
March 9 2009
horror stretch
jana perkovic: splintergroup, roadkill


March 8 2009
in bed with a mortal engine
keith gallasch: chunky move's mortal engine

limina, or saying yes to no
jana perkovic: michaela pegum, limina; and the fondue set

who’s zooming who?
virginia baxter: chunky move, mortal engine

March 7 2009
rabbits down the hole
tony reck: the fondue set's no success like failure

suspending the audience
keith gallasch: splintergroup in roadkill

the return of the super-marionette
jana perkovic: chunky move's mortal engine

words for the time being
virginia baxter: russell dumas, huit à huit—dance for the time being

March 5 2009
lateral intimacies
jana perkovic: shannon bott & simon ellis' inert

March 3 2009
after glow
keith gallasch talks with chunky move’s gideon obarzanek

critical mass
virginia baxter: melbourne’s dance massive

engineering the arts
kate warren talks with arts problem solver frieder weiss

nothing to lose
keith gallasch: the fondue set’s no success like failure

worlds within
philipa rothfield: shelley lasica’s vianne

 

Grayson Millwood, Roadkill, Splintergroup Grayson Millwood, Roadkill, Splintergroup
photo Tim Bates
REALTIME’S COVERAGE OF LAST YEAR’S MELBOURNE INTERNATIONAL ARTS FESTIVAL FEATURED AN EXCITING RANGE OF NEW DANCE WORK FROM LOCAL ARTISTS. FOR THE DEPLETED SECTOR IN SYDNEY, MASS MIGRATION WAS SERIOUSLY CONTEMPLATED. IN MARCH, IN A WELCOME JOINT INITIATIVE, THE THREE HOUSES OF MELBOURNE’S CONTEMPORARY PERFORMANCE CULTURE—ARTS HOUSE, DANCEHOUSE AND MALTHOUSE ARE THROWING OPEN THEIR DOORS TO CO-HOST TWO WEEKS OF CONTEMPORARY DANCE PROGRAMMING IN THE FORM OF DANCE MASSIVE. THE GENEROSITY IMPLIED IN THE EVENT’S TITLE IS REFLECTED IN A PROGRAM OF 15 WORKS FROM WITHIN AND OUTSIDE THE HOME STATE.

Part of the function of such events is for audiences to survey the form, to muse on its preoccupations. What strikes me in promotional literature for the programmed works is the language constellating around oppositions, the difference between states of being and, biting at those binary ankles, ideas of liminality and hybridity. These spaces of uncertainty and possibility occur both in the form and subject matter of the works. Live performance meets film and installation in Russell Dumas’ Huit à Huit. In Lucy Guerin’s Untrained, four men—two dance trained, two not—“show what each of those bodies can do with the same set of instructions, what they have in common and where their physical histories set them apart.” In 180 seconds in (Disco) Heaven or Hell, “speed dating meets pomo disco” and comes with The Fondue Set’s customary warning of “possible bad dance moves.”

Oppositional themes abound: circadian rhythms underscored by driving beats; population growth and the auditory phenomenon of feedback” (Rogue’s A Volume Problem and The Counting); Australians homesick in Berlin (Splintergroup’s Lawn); a couple stranded in the middle of nowhere (Splintergroup’s Roadkill); the monster within (Jo Lloyd’s Melbourne Spawned a Monster); two performers/two viewers (Inert); the substitution of real life for imitation (Luke George’s Lifesize). Shelley Lasica’s Vianne tests the fissures; in Limina, Michaela Pegum dances at the point where one thing becomes another and is for a time both; Helen Herbertson’s Morphia Series takes us directly to dreamstate (do not pass go); The Fondue’s No Success Like Failure playfully lays bare the schizophrenic state of the dancing life and Chunky’s Mortal Engine dares to come between the performer and her light source.

Steven Richardson, Artistic Director at Arts House, sees Dance Massive as “creating some essential critical dialogue around contemporary dance, setting a national context to present work in a concentrated cluster of programming” and also as offering the chance to host some international guests, “either presenters or potential co-producers, to really enter into that dialogue (and possible co-production) with Australian artists, many of whom are at the leading edge of contemporary dance internationally.” Currently in Australia, according to the Dance Massive program, there are around 50 dance companies and more than 200 choreographers investigating a range of techniques, culturally diverse forms, contexts and media. “Australian contemporary dance is in demand internationally. It has a strong track record for touring work,” says Richardson.
Byron Perry, Anthony Hamilton, Simon Obarzanek, Ross Coulter, Untrained, Lucy Guerin Inc Byron Perry, Anthony Hamilton, Simon Obarzanek, Ross Coulter, Untrained, Lucy Guerin Inc
photo Untrained Artists
Dance Massive also represents for the partners “a broad audience development strategy, the possibility to create a strong concentration of work over a specific time period…We don’t have the resources to mount a festival but a concentrated program has some added benefits over and above an annual program.”

“Having companies like Chunky Move co-operatively program at the same time as some of the more emerging companies”, says Richardson, gives younger companies and independent artists a chance to have their work seen in the broader context. “I think there’ll be some interest and benefit around the positioning of different kinds of work over the same time period.”

Visiting guests will have an opportunity to see complete works rather than excerpts. “The Australian Performing Arts Market does a terrific job in terms of a kind of broad brushstroke picture of the Australian cultural landscape. But I think having a genre-specific showcase, for want of a better term, creates all sorts of other possibilities. And the fact that we’re able to invite presenters or potential co-producers who have a very strong interest in dance, who can see 12-15 works over a six-day period—that’s a fairly attractive proposition for someone who’s engaged in looking at Australian work.” It’s also a less competitive environment for artists. “Presenting a full-length work with full production values is really important. It honours the work, honours all the effort that’s gone into making it.”

As well as the dance program, there’s an industry forum day on the Monday where artists who may not be in the program will talk about their work. “Australian dance is in a position now where artists have a greater degree of self-esteem and can just talk about upcoming work.”

“Since the demise of Greenmill”, Richardson observes, “there hasn’t really been a dedicated event focusing on contemporary dance. There have been a number of ancillary programs associated with arts festivals. But I think having a stand-alone contemporary dance project is timely and Melbourne is the place to host it. There’s already a critical mass and an ecology of dance in Melbourne that can support this practice. We have a very nice temporal moment, a good confluence of presenters in Melbourne who are open to this idea, so it’s time to give it a go.”

And if it all goes well, Dance Massive may well become a biennial event. Says Richardson, “We’ll certainly undertake some evaluation once we get through the first one and see if we’ve got the design close to right and make some adjustments after that. It may be we’re trying to do too much, or too little. And there are some gaps in the program. Contemporary Indigenous work is something we haven’t really been able to support this time. That’s the tyranny of distance, of resources, of funding. There’s some intercultural, cross-cultural work that, for various reasons, both to do with funding and resources but also to do with the availability of particular works, we haven’t really been able to present. But they’re definitely on the agenda. In fact, if I had to say where the gaps are I’d have to highlight those two areas of potential strength in Australian dance that we haven’t been able to support this time round. We hope to run three Dance Massive episodes as a pilot and see how we go after that.”


Dance Massive, March 3-15; www.dancemassive.com.au

From RT#89 Feb-March 2009 pg14

For full program and booking information: www.dancemassive.com.au

© Virginia Baxter; for permission to reproduce apply to realtime@realtimearts.net

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