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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

 

“THIS IS NOT CONTEMPORARY DANCE”, INSISTS RUSSELL DUMAS IN THE MINI-MANIFESTO THAT ACCOMPANIES HUIT À HUIT—DANCE FOR THE TIME BEING, HIS DURATIONAL PERFORMANCE WORK CREATED WITH 13 DANCERS IN THE STUDIO AT DANCEHOUSE. “MODERN AND POST MODERN DANCE ARE DEAD. SINCE THE LATE 1960S CONTEMPORARY DANCE HAS BEEN THE ‘BLACK BOX’ THAT RECORDS, BURIES AND RESURRECTS THE DISASTER.”

We enter said black box at the centre of which is a narrow table, along its length a collection of perhaps one hundred small pinched red clay figurines, some glazed, some not. The rudimentary shapes each crafted by Dumas suggest a grand gathering, or simply a continuum. Audience members are invited to create their own lighting for the display from a console in the corner.

Next, in an anteroom as we wait to enter the live performance upstairs, we sip green tea and watch videos of an earlier series of works in which Dumas invited a number of artists to edit footage of his work with dancers Nick Sabel and Josephine McKendry.

Finally, we tiptoe into the sunlit studio. The usher’s voice momentarily interrupts the pious hush of the gathering crowd. We have entered the rarefied world of Russell Dumas and his dancers in which “dance is not a language.” I put aside my little notebook and decide to test memory.

A lot happens over the next 80 minutes. Writing about it induces a sort of poetic wash of words: hands splay, feet grip, hips lift, twist then soundlessly fall…wordless weight shifting. Simple description also falls short: Three young male dancers balance in unison. In the larger groupings, 13 at one point, attention shifts more markedly to the room and its capacity to hold, its length and depth, corners, the distance between walls. Patterns are repeated and we realize after 50 minutes that we’re involved in a choreographic loop.

Should I upset the applecart and venture the reductive? The dancers avoid eye contact but if you’re quick you can catch the small facial movements as they evaluate distance and risk. The name of the game for the Dumas dancer is to carry out the task at hand, pure and simple but I swear I caught flashes of virtuosity and pleasure at just how elegantly a limb can extend at full stretch. Thankfully, hints of personality (Ms Green Nickers!) diverting assuredness (Ms Red Hair!) can’t help but break through the most undemonstrative of sequences. And I know “the concept of provenance is contentious” but at times I’m reminded of courtly or even ballroom dancing. And I won’t even go into the pleasure I took in being reminded of these movements later that night while watching something of the same bodily fine-tuning put to theatrical use in a male pas de deux in Splintergroup’s Roadkill. Perhaps I'd be safer with seductive? When I’m not absorbed in the movement, I begin to imagine my own body going through these motions. Watching the couplings as they explore how tangled you can become in another’s limbs and still not lose yourself, how that playful balance might be achieved, how two bodies might be better than one or how we all are at least two in one.

Perhaps dancer Josephine McKendry, who’s quoted in the program, knows best: “If there is a gap between perching ‘up here’ and looking ‘down there’, if there is a lapse between my body and the instruction it accepts, I might find or feign those gaps and lapses. If I were to give it a colour, it would be red. But how should I even know that much about it.” (Blue Palm/White Lies, 1989)

I’m no closer to a solution to my writing dilemma, when suddenly from the auditorium comes the beeping of a timer. The master holding the timepiece deems time is up and sends the dancers off to rest. When they return in 10 minutes time, they’ll take up where they left off and so the loop will run its course, audiences changing shifts. As we get up to leave I feel as if I have performed another of my subtle roles in the history of Russell Dumas’ “embodied practice.” Having admired the work of Dumas, his dancers and collaborators over the years, I know I’ll hold the memory of this room, this quiet, these bodies lifting and lightly touching down until the next time I’m invited to take up where I left off. I’m hoping it will be Dumas’ new work (“with thanks to Jonathan Sinatra for the concept”), a reality TV series, “So You Think You Can Walk.” I might even join in.

Afterwards, we talk with friends and while they’re fresh in our minds we re-constitute the moments of beauty that have touched us in this Dance for the Time Being. We talk about watching the slow progress of dancing bodies as four rectangles of sunlight moved across the floor on this Friday afternoon in Melbourne, March 6, 2009.


Huit à Huit—Dance for the Time Being, choreographer Russell Dumas, design consultant Simon Lloyd, lighting designer Jared Lewis, dancers Jonathan Sinatra, Linda Sastradipradja, Stuart Shugg, Nicole Jenvey, Philipa Rothfield, Sarah Cartwright, Simon Litchfield, Christine Babinskas, Sally Gardner, David Young, Gabrielle Cass, Kelly Jirsa, Madelaine Krenek; Dancehouse, March 3-6, Dance Massive March 3-15

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

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