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Dance Massive 2011

March 15-27, 2011

 Da Contents H2

March 29 2011
sounds massive
gail priest: the soundtracks of dance massive

the limits of the extraordinary
nilsson-polias: force majeure, not in a million years, dance massive

March 27 2011
let's dance—and we do
jana perkovic: bluemouth inc, dance marathon, dance massive

the unexploited
keith gallasch: antony hamilton, drift, dance massive

March 26 2011
post-apocalyptic drive-in dancing
carl nilsson-polias: antony hamilton, drift, dance massive

suspending self, time & disbelief
keith gallasch, virginia baxter: trevor patrick, i could pretend the sky is water, dance massive

talkin' 'bout my generation
philipa rothfield: becky, jodi & john, john jasperse company, dance massive

the truth of the matter, or not
jana perkovic: gideon obarzanek, faker, chunky move dance massive

March 24 2011
erupting from the archive
carl nilsson-polias: balletlab, amplification, dance massive

realtime video interview: trevor patrick
i could pretend the sky is water

March 23 2011
in the heat of the moment
keith gallasch: deanne butterworth, matthew day, dance massive

the ambiguities of happiness
jana perkovic: shaun parker, happy as larry, dance massive

March 22 2011
displacements: space, stage, workplace
keith gallasch: branch nebula's sweat & other works

present, tense
virginia baxter: luke george, now now now: dance massive

realtime video interview: luke george
now now now

March 20 2011
realtime video interview: gideon obarzanek

realtime video interview: madeleine flynn & tim humphrey
music for imagined dances

realtime video interview: michelle heaven & brian lucas
disagreeable object

realtime video interview: rosalind crisp
no one will tell us...

March 19 2011
the poisoned pea
virginia baxter: michelle heaven, disagreeable object, dance massive

turning the tables, working the audience
carl nilsson-polias: sweat, branch nebula, dance massive

March 18 2011
dance like never before
keith gallasch: rosalind crisp, no one will tell us...; dance massive

the uneasy weight of metaphor
virginia baxter: shaun mcleod, the weight of the thing left its mark

March 17 2011
into the dance-scape
jana perkovic: narelle benjamin, in glass, dance massive

kinetics: sculpted & danced
carl nilsson-polias: connected, chunky move, dance massive

the art machine dances
keith gallasch: connected, chunky move, dance massive

March 16 2011
ghost dancing
keith gallasch: narelle benjamin, in glass, dance massive

journey of the tribe
jana perkovic: herbertson & cobham, sunstruck, dance massive

March 10 2011
kinetic art machine makes waves for dance
john bailey: reuben margolin & chunky move's connected

February 21 2011
dance massive 2011 artists: from the archive
force majeure, not in a million years; narelle benjamin, in glass, chunky move, faker; branch nebula, sweat; shaun mcleod, the weight of the thing left its mark: luke george, now, now, now; phillip adams amplification

the meeting point
sophie travers: steven richardson, dance massive


Trevor Patrick, I Could Pretend The Sky Is Water Trevor Patrick, I Could Pretend The Sky Is Water
photo Ponch Hawkes

We’re loath to give too much away. We can say it involves a clever stage design (Efterpi Soropos) comprising three large surfaces that act as screens. The projected videos by Rhian Hinkley, with evocative detail, transform these into ceiling, wall and floor and, later, the sea. Trevor Patrick is somewhere in here, first glimpsed as a ghostly presence on the wall—perhaps just a video image, a Bill Viola-ish spectre, an ectoplasmic return of the repressed. But we do have his voice, an older Patrick croaking out a series of 13 remembrances, each deliciously precise and framed by seductive, sometimes disturbing ambient sounds drawn from nature (Livia Ruzic), commencing with the mere drip, drip of water but soon growing into something more turbulent.

As with all things in I Could Pretend The Sky Is Water, the recollections float freely—the memory of a childhood ride in a rocking boat could have been on a swaying train. And as ever with Patrick, the writing is rich in detail and inherent poetry, suffused with droll humour. The particularity of place is striking in these remembrances—the idiosyncratic names of Australian towns seem odder than ever—although the reliability of recall is again tested: did such an event happen in this town or that one? Memory floats, suspended between possibilities.

The droll pace of Patrick’s speech mirrors the Australian voice of older generations. Or will we all sound like this some day? Inducing a dreamy forgetfulness, it relishes the crisp consonants of words like “Tumbarumba,” the fruity tongue rolls for names like “Gloria.” Sentences are rarely tied off briskly but rather extended with gross relish in words like “a-r-s-e” or the endless possibility of “Anyway…”

Suspension is the text’s insistent motif—on a chair, on a plank, in a boat, atop the artist’s father’s shoulders. Deft shifts in point of view are especially amusing—an old council chair remembers supporting an aunt’s “fat arse,” a carpet recalls the uneven weight of furniture and feet. The impressionistic image of Patrick on the wall sees him suspended and slowly rotating, his movement of strangely elongated hands and feet heavy, as if under water. Indeed, water increasingly invades his, and our, environment. Hinkley’s video art masterfully generates this transformation with images of great beauty, entailing subtle superimpositions and fragmentations: the ceiling rose is awash, the carpet colours spread into new patterns.

Patrick is subsequently revealed to be a human-animal hybrid in an exquisite stretch lace costume (by Peter Allan) that, in the shifting textures of Soropos’ lighting, evokes at different times soft, delicate flesh or a richly delineated scaly armour. The creature’s movement becomes more fluid, more dancerly but with not a little irony in the ensuing dialogue between Patrick and his older self. The text suggests not just the discovery of a pre-historic living fossil—suspended between species at a particular evolutionary moment—but also the performance itself as potential disaster (“eight of the audience are still unaccounted for”). This refers inherently to the riskiness of this performance but also to the challenges for all performers, not least choreographers (the crisis entails throwing out choreographic sections and other anxieties: “the longer a dance goes on the less likely its survival”).

There is no sense in which the work is confessional, beyond expressing with metaphoric intensity the stress of creation and performance for that very singular, strange species, the artist in the struggle for survival. There is a brief reference to Patrick as bow-legged and pigeon-toed when a child. Someone in his family assumes this will “right itself if attention is not drawn to it” and that “the blackboard will calm his restive legs.” But much of the imagery captures the look and feel of the past in terms of names, places, events (the Queen’s 1954 visit—“Nothing to see”), objects and lateral associations—crooked teeth and a lop-sided car grille.

I Could Pretend The Sky Is Water celebrates the survival of the artist with a great deal of beautifully clothed irony and hints of hard won optimism (“the audience never give up hope until the last of the choreography”), although the final image is as disturbing as it is beautiful. Similarly the grace of Patrick’s movement belies the physical endurance entailed in being suspended for the entire performance.

This marvellous act of suspension is supported by highly integrated video, stage, lighting and costume design and reinforced with the sustaining power of remembrance embodied in words in a work that anticipates a future reflective self while facing the creative crises of the present. In little more than half an hour, Trevor Patrick marvellously suspends himself, time and our disbelief with a scenario at once deeply familiar (the dance of memory) and utterly strange (the artist as beautiful alien).

See realtime's video interview with Trevor Patrick

Dance Massive: I Could Pretend The Sky Is Water, words & movement Trevor Patrick, costume Peter Allan, set & visual design Efterpi Soropos, set & design realisation Bluebottle, film production Rhian Hinkley, soundscape Livia Ruzic; Arts House, North Melbourne Town Hall, March 23-26;

RealTime issue #103 June-July 2011 pg. web

© Keith Gallasch; for permission to reproduce apply to [email protected]

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