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Archive Highlights

 Da Contents H2

November 12 2014
Obituary & Archive: Margaret Cameron

The other side of Nightfall: Margaret Cameron & Ian Scott
Virginia Baxter

July 2 2014
Speak Percussion

November 20 2013
Jon Rose

November 20 2012
branch nebula

July 3 2012
liquid architecture (updated)

March 20 2012
clocked out - archive highlight

November 8 2011
the NOW now

May 10 2011
art & disability: new geographies of the body

November 6 2009
dance on screen

October 26 2009

September 21 2009
australian indigenous film

August 21 2009
keith armstrong, media artist

July 17 2009
liquid architecture

June 29 2009
rosie dennis: the truth hurts


branch nebula

Alexandra Harrison, Paradise City Alexandra Harrison, Paradise City
photo Heidrun Löhr
Branch Nebula is an important link in and continuation of the grand tradition of contemporary performance companies that have continually emerged in Sydney and beyond in NSW since the mid 1980s: The Sydney Front, Open City, Entr'Acte, Gravity Feed, Stalker, De Quincey Co, Urban Theatre Projects, The opera Project, The Fondue Set, version 1.0, My Darling Patricia, POST and more recently Team Mess and Appelspiel.

From the outset in 1998, under the direction of founders Mirabelle Wouters and Lee Wilson, Branch Nebula revealed a distinctive character, fusing a European performance sensibility (doubtless influenced by Wouters' Belgian origins and her background in lighting, design and performance) and a potent physicality associated with Wilson as a performer and choreographer and the company's passion for integrating street performance, sport and work forms into contemporary performance.

Mirabell Wouters, Lee Wilson, Sentimental Reason, Branch Nebula, 2002 Mirabell Wouters, Lee Wilson, Sentimental Reason, Branch Nebula, 2002
photo Jon Green
Back in 2002, Keri Glastonbury saw Wouters and Wilson's striking performance of Sentimental Reason at Antistatic 1, a dance event at Performance Space. Her review, worth quoting at length captures the Branch Nebula brand of physicality and the thoughts it can generate: "Lee Wilson is irritable, pouting and sullen, while the half harnessed Mirabelle Wouters canters around him. She starts to generate a real flow for the piece, using the equivalent of the metonymic in movement in her ‘becoming horse.’ A cross between Iggy Pop and Equus, Wilson’s masculinity eventually explodes into a frenetic mosh-pit-of-one movement followed by some buff aerial work. That Wouters then gets nekkid is predictably feral perhaps, but adds an incarnate sense of flesh. Their base chakra exploration of the psychosexual in physical theatre works towards the form’s potential for embodied performance, with neither the male or female (horse or human?) subsumed or captured by the other."

Plaza Real, co-produced with Urban Theatre Projects, was an impressive large scale work with a strong cultural and skills mix that followed in 2004. It evoked the liminal world of giant shopping centres "realised as performance with all the requisite clarity of intent and stylishness but with the most modest of means—sound, bodies, theatre lights shaped into strict lines and sculpted in an ominous cluster, and a sea of uniformly inflated plastic shopping bags. This is no literal recreation of a shopping centre, but an exquisitely surreal evocation of one in which superficial order and fine design will sooner or later surrender to fundamental passions, where the object is not purchase but the other—desired, fondled, embraced, stalked and attacked."

Inge Liljestrom, Kathryn Puie, Michael Mulhall, <BR />Anthony “Lamaroc” Lawang, Paradise City Inge Liljestrom, Kathryn Puie, Michael Mulhall,
Anthony “Lamaroc” Lawang, Paradise City
photo Heidrun Löhr
2007's Paradise City revealed a stronger company identity in an optimistic focus on street culture, revealing the artfulness of the virtuosi of the skateboard, physical theatre, the BMX bike, dance and song framed by an effectively spare ramp design. The interplay of skills provided the work's best moments. Whereas the 'real' in Plaza Real had to be read as critical, I wrote that "The ‘paradise’ of [this] title is at first glance ironic but, despite their occasional falls from grace, this street in this city is mostly heaven for its denizens and for those who espy them."

Ahil Ratnamohan, Sweat, Branch Nebula Ahil Ratnamohan, Sweat, Branch Nebula
photo Heidrun Löhr
In 2010, Sweat focused on the world of physical labour, its tedium and its liberating physical alternatives. In a RealTime interview in RT99 Lee Wilson explained,
" 'What we’ve tried to do is to have the skills entering into Sweat almost in opposition to the work—as a way of conveying something personal about the performers. It’s a way of connecting with the performers on a human level.' At the same time, says Wilson, 'We’re looking at the way self-esteem is eroded by being constantly in service for very low pay and how that can affect workers psychologically'." The culturally diverse artists in Sweat embodied skills in physical theatre, football, dance, parkour and breakdancing, with the artists working alongside a Japanese noisician while performing amidst their audience/masters and finally grossly reversing the power relationship.

Wilson also explained an important Branch Nebula agenda: "for Sweat, we’re supporting the artists to pursue their own practice and develop their material but also prodding and provoking them to extend that material choreographically.”

In August 2013 Branch Nebula presented the Royal Concrete And Bone Sessions in Launceston's Skate Park for the 2013 Junction Arts Festival, investigating "the vulnerability of the body in relation to concrete in the skate the body develops ways of moving and adapting in this space of concrete waves, into efficient and graceful ways of travelling" (press release). A new version of the show, which brings together professional skateboarders, BMX riders and locals, is being created for the 2013 Sydney Festival.

Let Lee Wilson and Mirabelle Wouters tell you more about Concrete and Bone Sessions and this distinctive company's plans for a performance in Finland later in 2013 in our realtime tv Branch Nebula video interview.

Keith Gallasch

realtime tv interviews
Lee Wilson & Mirabelle Wouters - Concrete and Bone Sessions
Lee Wilson & Matt Press - Whelping Box, a collaboration between Branch Nebula, Matt Prest & Clare Britton

turning the tables, working the audience
carl nilsson-polias: sweat, branch nebula, dance massive
dance massive 2011 festival coverage
RealTime issue #102 April-May 2011 pg. 15

displacements: space, stage, workplace
keith gallasch: branch nebula's sweat & other works
dance massive 2011 festival coverage
March 22, 2011 web

work world upside down
pauline manley: branch nebula, sweat
RealTime issue #100 Dec-Jan 2010 pg. 25

the invisible workers dance
keith gallasch: sweat, branch nebula, performance space
RealTime issue #99 Oct-Nov 2010 pg.

hard art
josephine skinner: banch nebula, sweat

paradise city
other worlds, outer limits
keith gallasch enters paradise city
RealTime issue #77 Feb-March 2007 pg. 44

plaza real
to shop, to die (for)
Keith Gallasch
RealTime issue #64 Dec-Jan 2004 pg. 44

sentimental reason
border dancing
Keri Glastonbury: Antistatic 2002
RealTime issue #52 Dec-Jan 2002 pg. 24

b sharp and blunt
kirsten krauth: b sharp, four on the floor
RealTime issue #44 Aug-Sept 2001 pg. web

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