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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

 

Helen Herbertson, Morphia Series Helen Herbertson, Morphia Series
photo Rachelle Roberts
OVERHEARD AUDIENCE MEMBER AT DANCE MASSIVE EVENT: “I DON’T KNOW ABOUT DANCE; I’M SAFER IF THERE’S A TEXT. OTHERWISE I FIND MYSELF INVENTING NARRATIVES. I WATCH A DANCER MOVING AND I THINK ‘WATCHFULNESS’, THAT’S WHAT IT’S ALL ABOUT. BUT I KNOW IT’S NOT THAT AT ALL!”

In Morphia Series, Helen Herbertson and Ben Cobham offer text as well as everything else but audience members searching for meaning might find themselves in the same cul de sac.

I experienced an earlier work in this series a decade ago at Performance Space in Sydney. In that version (which is with me still), the audience was separated from the performer in her yellow stage box by Ben Cobham hovering over a slide projector, placed between us. In this new version, the technology has progressed considerably, such that no lighting source is visible and we, the audience, are totally in the artists’ hands. I won’t give the game away by revealing how this works—surprise is part of its magic. Suffice to say that the relationship between performer and audience here is crucial and echoes the matter of the work (rather than the meaning) stated in the program as “working with the notion that life hovers somewhere between the ordinary and the metaphysical.”

Of the dancer’s movements I remember only fragments. They are pedestrian but equally, earth shattering. There’s geometry but no patterns, no obvious displays of skill or prowess—if you don’t count navigating the unconscious. There’s a feeling that something crucial is on the tip of the tongue. What pervades is the atmosphere, the sense of being elsewhere. When you leave the room after the 18-minute performance, it feels like crossing a border into another country. A friend greeting me as I emerged reported on a kind of collective double take amongst departing audience members. As they left, he said, they each took three steps through the door, dipped their heads, looked up, blinked and then moved off.

In the first sequence, we see Herbertson at a distance and hear her recorded voice uttering a poetic text to do with a dream of Estonia (was it?). A fine white mist appears in the yellow box. Movements from the silhouetted dancer are at first deliberate as if being slowly recovered or performed without full consciousness. At one of many illusory moments an arm becomes a serpent. Stabbing gestures mirror explosive, whipping sounds.

Next comes a dream of place, faintly familiar to me, featuring my own fantasy of the perfect living space in which human and nature are separated only by glass and inside there’s nothing to bump into. The black clad silhouette moves with the same minimal gestures feeling her way as she imagines the space into being.

In the third sequence, the text is of a vision, a body leaving its marks on nature. Were there hooves? Whatever is being said is over-ridden by the strange power of the dancer’s gaze. I remember no movement save turning, and Herbertson’s now entirely vulnerable features facing us squarely while she remained elsewhere, as if clothed in memory.

Just as shadows from the earlier incarnation of this work have stayed with me for a decade, this new work takes its place in my own unconscious. Searching for comparisons, what surfaces the morning after Morphia is the sharp memory of an hour in the Rothko Room at the Tate in London in 1997, gazing into the deep colours of the huge canvases, overtaken by an enveloping sensory reverie.


Helen Herbertson and Ben Cobham, Morphia Series, design concept Ben Cobham, Helen Herbertson, performance, text, sound concept Helen Herbertson, lighting Ben Cobham, sound compile David Franzke, morsels John Salisbury; Arts House, North Melbourne Town Hall; March 10-15; Dance Massive, Melbourne, March 3-15

RealTime issue #90 April-May 2009

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

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