Sydney was privileged to see this astonishing evening of powerful hypnotic dance by Meg Stuart an evening of short solo works.
An Evening of Solo Works (2013) presents a selection of these former solo works, as well as excerpts from evening-length performances.Stuart over her career has created over thirty works and through her company Damaged Goods has performed all over the world since 1994. Works include VIOLET, Built to Last , UNTIL OUR HEARTS STOP and others. Continue reading Meg Stuart : An Evening of Solo Works→
THE BACKSTORIES is a rare glimpse behind the public persona of one of the most influential Australians in women’s football, Moya Dodd, as she shares the experiences that have shaped her life. Originally commissioned and presented by Adelaide Festival, THE BACKSTORIES comes to Carriageworks for three performances in February. Friday2 February 8pm and Saturday 3 February 2pm, 8pmContinue reading THE BACKSTORIES: MOYA DODD IN FOCUS→
It’s not for everyone, but maybe it should be. This chow is a symphony of sophisticated naivety, slapstick with a bitch slap, a carnival of two, the accomplished performance artists, Jo-Ann Lancaster and Simon Yates.
Quite a mixed bill in this latest presentation by Sydney Dance , the fourth presentation of NEW BREED – something for everyone yet challenging and provoking .
First up was Bell Jar choreographed and performed by Cass Mortimer Eipper and Nelson Earl . Inspired by Virginia Woolf’s work in some ways it is about confronting one’s inner demons. It was very macho yet intimate , strong and sweaty, very powerful and thrillingly performed with hints of violence hidden below the surface. The two were topless and in dark trousers In some ways it was as if they were two halves of a whole and Earl was trying to escape perhaps.
It was slithery, fast and furious with sinuous arms and a martial arts feel at times. Other sections featured the use of angular elbows, or sculptural silhouette . The music by Marco Cher-Gibard at times crashed and roared. There was an emotionally powerful ending with Earl perhaps dying in Mortimer-Eipeer’s arms.
Next came Petros Treklis’ The Art of Letting Go .” 7 dancers portraying one man and his mind”.It opened with a fantastic solo for Sam Young-Wright looming out of the darkness. The seven wore grey outfits. In some ways it is perhaps reminiscent of Murphy’s ‘Purgatory ‘ . Choreographically the work featured fluid, slinky movement , exciting ensemble work , runs , some striking , dangerous lifts … isolation movements are included , as well as stylized repeated small movements .There is an atmosphere of love and loss . It concludes with more tumultuous slinky , ensemble work.
Tyrone Earl Lrae Robinson’s strange [bio]Curious was first after interval , which he informs us in the program notes is attempting to question the relationship we have with the natural world. I found it coolly clinical yet simultaneously stylised and extremely sensual.
It opens with Chloe Leong like a goddess in the bath , in a heavily stylized and textured leotard , who entices with a slinky , sensual solo ( echoes perhaps of Murphy’s Some Rooms ? ) . Nelson Earl appears and there are slithery pas de deux . The set is of plants mostly in display cases but some on a table and there is much symbolic use of the plants – sniffing , tasting etc . Their tryst is interrupted by Davide Di Giovanni in a black floral mask – a reference perhaps to the serpent and garden of Eden ?
Melanie Lane’s WOOF with its pulsating music by Clark , flickering lights and sculptural lines explores various intellectual and physical ideas , with fine ensemble work by all . While WOOF is perhaps a little long Lane reveals enormous potential. It strives to express ‘ the fantasy of a post-human collective spirit ‘ and has a cast of twelve. Aleisa Jelbart’s delicate ghostly white costumes become dirty by the end because of the blackened hands of the dancers .
There are allusions to Baroque paintings and Bangarra perhaps , with allusions to other past pop dance and art ‘schools’ which gradually develops into a pastiche of contemporary and includes lots of fast , fiddly footwork . Choreographically it also included lots of runs , fast furious jumps and lots of walks and sections on high demi pointe. At times the ensemble writhed sculpturally, at others they split into smaller groups of trios or quartets . Absorbing .
Sydney Dance NEW BREED runs at Carriageworks 30 November – 9 December 2017
What a bumper way to start the first act of RESTORATION. After some very impressive warm ups in the large space, the dancers spread out around the stage, some at the barre in the centre of the arena. What hits the speakers? Big Spender from Sweet Charity and they look great! It will be a first act of surprises and a second act of certainty and culture.
NAISDA is a dance school providing world class expertise in cultural and creative training. The college is graduating elite dancers who have culture as a bedrock for their arts practice. The graduating artists whose work is showcased in RESTORATION are Lillian Banks, Shana O’Brien, Bradley Smith, Mendia Kermond and Jye Uren. Remember those names. These are the stars of the very, very near future.
CHAMPIONS is a stonkingly good dance work … with the common touch.
It’s a large scale work with 11 dancers filling a field of dreams inside the vast space and it begins like any large scale sporting event with the team captain interview. Sports presenter, Mel McLaughlin, well known to viewers as one of the anchors of Seven’s Olympic coverage, is on the screen wall which dominates the upstage area of the arena. She is interviewing Carlee Mellow and we get a team update on the selections for today’s match.
Pre-game, a suitably comic and silly swan mascot has entertained the large and vocal crowd to a pounding pizzicato on the soundtrack and the audience is ready for the action. At interval she reappears in a circular lake of light … I loved that! There are cheers and claps as the players wander on with their yoga mats to warm up. In the same way that everyone’s a sports fan during the Olympics, this work begins with expert coverage to inform and guide us. Mellow and McLaughlin go through each dancer stats, temperament and what they bring to the line-up while a manufactured playing, smiling, concentrating image of each woman fills the screen.Continue reading FORM DANCE PROJECTS PRESENTS ‘CHAMPIONS’ @ CARRIAGEWORKS→
Jo Lloyd and Nicola Gunn’s MERMERMER has come straight from performances in Melbourne as part of Chunky Move’s Next Move season .
The audience eavesdrops on Lloyd and Gunn’s comic rambling stream of consciousness monologues developed from what they call Conversation Therapy, created while they prepared for their interactive performance at the National Gallery of Victoria as part of Melbourne NOW. The duo keep up physical and verbal conversations simultaneously throughout the show .
Char Soo, a video installation by Hossein Valamanesh, places us in a four-sided Iranian bazaar to contemplate movement, human interaction and the passing of time. Char Soo is a metaphor for Iran, a country which has been subject to invasion, religious and cultural interaction for centuries. This immersive four-screen video projection aims to place the audience at its centre.
This video installation is available for viewing at Carriageworks until July 17.
Part of the 20th Biennale of Sydney, The Embassy of Disappearance is being presented at Carriageworks. It includes works by artists exploring themes of absence and memory, including disappearing languages, histories, currencies and landscapes. The Embassy of Disappearance is a safe haven to contemplate these ideas of absence and memory. Opening night featured art and performances by Mike Parr, Neha Choksi and Alice Cummings.
Mike Parr’s performance was spectacular. In an outside area a square was covered in many linked charcoal drawings. A flammable liquid was poured over them and they were set alight, resulting in a large intense fire. This was a strong and ironic statement about global warming. Sydney Trains added to the irony when one of their trains went by with a “Hey Tosser, Put it in the Bin” advertisement. Continue reading THE EMBASSY OF DISAPPEARANCE @ CARRIAGEWORKS→
Tom Wait’s and Kathleen Brennan’s music and lyrics performed by a glorious band and sung by the talented actors of the Thalia Theatre, Hamburg is what I took most away from this exciting Sydney Festival production. Much of the music had a delightful Kurt Weill aesthetic, whilst other songs were just as pleasing but were in more traditional Tom Wait Americana territory.
Georg Buchner’s 1836 play, WOYZECK, has a surprisingly modern resonance with its themes of workplace alienation, despair, jealously and marginalised members of society not functioning in our world of economic rationalism and political expediency.
Franz Woyzeck (Felix Knopp) is a lowly soldier stationed in a provincial German town. Woyzeck earns extra money for his family by performing menial jobs for the Captain (Philipp Hochmair) and agreeing to take part in medical experiments conducted by the Doctor (Tilo Werner). Continue reading WOYZECK @ CARRIAGEWORKS→
Famous for assembling large numbers of bottle caps and various bits of aluminium attached with copper wire, Ghanaian-born artist El Anatsui was awarded the Golden Lion Award for Lifetime Achievement at the 2015 Venice Biennale. Working in Nigeria, his art is exhibited throughout the world including UK, USA, Europe, Africa, Middle East and Japan.
EL ANATSUI : FIVE DECADES is the first major retrospective shown in Australia. More than 30 works are displayed including ceramics, drawings, sculptures and woodcarvings alongside the representative large-scale installations. El purposely allows the curators freedom of installation. This means that each installation can be significantly different. El has said that if ‘art is life, life is not static and so art should be dynamic’. This allows opportunity for change and re-creation. At the micro level, discarded and damaged objects can be transformed into something new. Existence is fragile and transient. Continue reading EL ANATSUI : FIVE DECADES @ CARRIAGEWORKS→
Erth and their puppets are back! Having been several times to visit Erth’s Dinosaur Zoo, we were looking forward to the latest incarnation.
Our host Drew- casually interacts with his audience as they settle. The target group, the younger audience, are encouraged to sit on the carpet area at the front before a ‘live’ giant screen that takes us into the prehistoric aquarium world.
Drew disarms and makes new friends. He is brightly coloured and his demeanour of the informal is also linked to his lack of real knowledge. Then as the show begins he is interrupted by Catherine the resident marine biologist to secure the facts. This attempt at layering the information is quite effective. Continue reading Prehistoric Aquarium @ Carriageworks→
FALLING WOMAN is the last major work in the Performance Space’s BURWAN (ISLAND) program at Carriageworks. Its five show season ends tonight.
FALLING WOMAN is an interdisciplinary work, a combination of physical theatre, and immersive video. It is a surreal fairy tale or perhaps a dark dream with the falling woman dragging her three legged chair through a bucolic Australian landscape. The tormented Falling Woman (Alice Osborne) comes upon The Witness (Regina Heilman); a mysterious stranger in gold shoes. For audience members, the Witness may be Mother, individual or societal Conscience or some other superior being or mind.
The work was created by Halcyon Macleod and theatre maker Alice Osborne. The acting and movement is beautiful and the theme intelligent. The falling woman’s fight for survival is set against video artist Sam James’ entrancing landscapes of rural NSW. Appropriately, the soundtrack performed live includes an instrument made from a discarded chair. Phil Downing (composer and sound designer) meets the challenge of this work and sustains the difficult journey.
The Falling woman is faced with obstacles which she attacks in a space where there appear to be no rules. The audience is forced to part and shuffle into tight spaces as she pushes through, almost oblivious to the affect she is having on those around. We are told that she has taken strong sleeping pills.
With the clash between the Falling Woman and the Witness, inevitably one of them has to be destroyed.
This is a beautiful yet harrowing work with at times a little too much going on.
It is rare that one gets the story of a great man told through the eyes of his family. This is currently happening at the Carriageworks.
THE FOX AND THE FREEDOM FIGHTERS is the story of Charles ‘Chicka’ Dixon – one of Australia’s foremost Aboriginal activists – told from the unique perspective of his daughter, Rhonda Dixon-Grovenor, and granddaughter, Nadeena Dixon, with then help of playwright Alana Valentine. Continue reading The Fox and the Freedom Fighters→
January is a lazy languid time in Sydney, so it’s slightly unfair that the art lover’s idylls should be rudely interrupted – but in the best possible way – by the massive feast of cultural events that is the Sydney Festival.
Like a refreshing summer shower, some of the festival’s most appetising events are fleeting, lasting for only one or two nights; others, like a lingering heatwave, bask the greater Sydney region in their glow for weeks.
This year’s 179 events spread from the CBD to the Blue Mountains, 85 of them are free and there are almost 500 performances in total. Eight of them have exclamation marks in their title (one even has two!!) so expect some very exciting shows!
As always with the Sydney Festival, it’s best to get in early: by the time you hear about them they have may have vanished or sold out.
Part of the Score season of sound and movement at Carriageworks as presented by Performance Space, Force Majeure in CULMINATE saw, under the excellent direction of Kate Champion, four strong, powerful works, still regarded as ‘in development’ presented. We were also reminded that this CULMINATE season, in effect, links in with, and alternates with, the ‘Cultivate’ season by the same company. The studio space was mostly just left bare with the mirrors covered.
The opening work, Untitled #14 by Jason Pitt used repeated phrases of movement at various points. Balance and control were most important of the body and of other outside elements like chairs and other props used by the cast. Masks were also worn at certain points. Continue reading Force Majeure’s CULMINATE→
Part of the ‘Score’ Festival of Sound and Movement presented by Performance Space at Carriageworks, this is a fresh, challenging work by Chunky Move from Melbourne, directed by and choreographed by Anthony Hamilton. Their current Sydney season is part of a current national tour.
Hamilton uses spoken word, repetition of sounds, repeated phrases of movement and improvised movement sequences to follow human evolution from primates to robots and space exploration and back again. It celebrates our primal need to interact with one another. Director and choreographer Antony Hamilton came up with his new show after asking himself the questions:- what if I created a work from ideas he had discarded in the past? What would it mean to take these ideas that had been left, and instead keep everything?! Continue reading Chunky Move’s Keep Everything→
The renowned British artist Tacita Dean is famous for her drawings and film. Dean has the ability to capture in her works qualities that make them not only extraordinarily beautiful but her works have an intimacy that can be almost painful to experience.
The 19th Biennale of Sydney and Carriageworks commissioned Dean to create EVENT FOR A STAGE. Dean describes how when she was offered a theatre as a performance space she had limited knowledge of theatre and its rituals and disciplines but she immediately thought of the need to find an actor to act on stage. Leaving behind the security of the visual arts, Dean embarked on a journey into the performing arts armed, she modestly claims, only with ignorance and presumptions.
Event for a Stage is presented in the round. Situated inside a large white circle drawn on the ground there is one actor, Stephen Dillane, and two cameras. The cameras are there to film and be part of the performance. They form a tangible connection between Dillane, Dean and the audience and capture the interplay that occurs between artist, actor and audience. They make the audience aware of the artifice of performance, especially as the actor directly refers to the filming process.
The border of the actor’s circle functions as a liminal zone which Dillane crosses when he wishes to share confidences with the audience. Dillane’s performance is astonishing. He reads exquisitely from texts, delivers thundering critiques directed at Dean the ‘artist’. He discusses the rituals and devices of the theatre and tells us painfully moving accounts of his family and their relationship with Australia. These anecdotes, delivered outside the actor’s circle are particularly fascinating as Dillane seems to be sharing intimacies with the audience, or is he being consummate artist seducing us with artifice?
Throughout the performance Dean sits in the front row, unobtrusively in a corner, looking slightly uncomfortable. Once she makes a comment and a number of times she holds out a piece of paper with comments or directions for Dillane on it. Dillane contemptuously snatches these pieces of paper from Dean, pouring out scorn and vitriol as he reads outs Dean’s comments and prompts. He then scrunches these sheets of paper up and throws them away. Interestingly, they always land within the artist’s circle.
The use of cameras, as well as enabling the performance to be recorded, also forms a connection between the known terrain of visual arts for Dean and the world of the performing arts that Dillane reveals to her. EVENT FOR A STAGE becomes even more engrossing as we become aware that in this performance we are witnessing art reflecting on itself. Dean’s production and Dillane’s performance takes this idea to a whole new level. We are not simply witnessing a rumination on art, rather we are witnessing the visual and the performing arts colliding, shattering and reforming. This extraordinary interaction is why EVENT FOR A STAGE should not be missed.
EVENT FOR A STAGE had its world premiere at Carriageworks between the first and fourth of May. Dean has made recordings and films of the four performances and will be turning them into radio and film versions of the event.
With all the doom and gloom emanating from Geelong lately with the closures of Ford and Alcoa, it’s great to see one of that city’s success stories, Back to Back Theatre, showcase their award winning show GANESH VERSUS THE THIRD REICH at Carriageworks, Sydney.
Back to Back Theatre was founded in Geelong in 1987 to create theatre with people who are perceived to have a disability. It has gone on to become one of Australia’s leading creative voices, focusing on moral, philosophical and political questions about the value of individual lives.
THE SHADOW KING is the apt title of an adaptation of King Lear by Tom E. Lewis and Michael Kantor.
Set in Northern Australia, THE SHADOW KING is the fulmination of a dream the two theatre practitioners have held dear – “to tell one of the foundation stories of contemporary Western civilisation but use it to question and probe contemporary indigenous experience.”
More than a mere palimpsest, THE SHADOW KING retains whole phrases from Shakespeare, sometimes translated into traditional tongues, cantilevered with the use of colloquial English.
An absorbing blend of dance, physical theatre and the warehouse/industrial environment Forklift is brought to us by KAGE from Melbourne as part of the 2014 Sydney Festival.
Directed by Kate Denborough, there are three female performers in the show (four if you count the forklift itself. And the forklift does get bows at the curtain calls!). The cast are Amy Macpherson, Nicci Wilks and Henna Kaikula all of whom have had circus and dance training and special contortionist training as well.
The whole huge area of Bay 17 of Carriageworks is used, opened right up to the back walls. The show begins with one of the cast starting a late night shift in a warehouse. We see her arriving for work, playing cards with a friend, making coffee, grabbing a snack from the machine … Meanwhile, eerie unusual events begin to happen.The other two performers emerge in skin coloured bra and pants.
Walking to the entrance of Candice Breitz’s current exhibition Working Class Hero (a portrait of John Lennon) is an overpowering experience. The brazen, or the overtly intrepid, may think nothing of wandering straight amongst the 25 channel video installation of Lennon fans singing his 1970 release Plastic Ono Band in a cappella. This viewer however approached the scene with something approaching trepidation, almost feeling as though stepping any further than the doorway would be in the same realm as barging unannounced into a performance of a community choir.
As an introduction to the exhibition,- Breitz placed an advertisement in a paper in Newcastle, England calling forth a legion of John Lennon fans willing to be recorded singing Plastic Ono Band in full. After a rigorous selection process 25 were chosen and Working class hero is the culmination of the project. Exhibited in a variety of contexts, this installation is perhaps one of the most egalitarian with each video evenly spaced around the room, not affording privilege to any individual’s rendition of the album.
Die hard fans these diverse, expressive faces may be; crazed fans they are not. Breitz’s work is a respectful and sensitive exploration of fandom and the myriad of ways one can be a fan. In the words of the artist, each “performer” is idiosyncratically responding to the same set of parameters, and the storytelling of the piece takes place in the choices made by each individual. Some charmingly, endearingly mumble the lyrics under their breath while others are more performative and boisterous. Bashful faces turn to earnest storytellers as the track list rolls on and alongside the Lennon-esque gold-rimmed glasses and fan t-shirts we gain an understanding of the subjects as we witness the water, coffee or beer the subjects sip for stamina throughout their recording.
Just as the performers grow more comfortable as each song rolls on, so too does the audience. After tentatively hanging on the edge of the ‘stage’, for one tune, maybe two, the viewer’s response begins to be ignited as much by the subjects as by the songs. A walk around the room gives the sense of artwork and audience gravitating towards a common ground, both approaching a pinnacle of inner reflectivity.
In a curious paradox, the subjects themselves are completely disconnected from the audience. Aside from a flicker of awareness of being documented they are completely absorbed by the emotion of Lennon’s recording – the songs being fed to them via earpiece. Conversely, the audience cannot hear the music and is absolutely lost in the role of voyeuristic observer. These homage-like performances have strength of emotion so deep-seated that what in another setting could have been labelled karaoke now transcends the sing-a-long and ignites a sense of the rawness of human emotion.
Yes, this work is a portrait of Lennon – part of him being superimposed in the faces of the 25 people involved – but it is much more than that. It is also a portrait of the viewer, the performer, the music appreciator. It is a portrait of England and its inhabitants. It is about a collective experience; a shared sense of humanity and the act of making the every man the every day hero.
You may intend to stay for a few songs and be on your way, but more than likely you will find yourself hooked in for the full 39 minute loop and then some. Leaving early would seem akin to taking the back door halfway through a concert, out staying the entire loop equating to a personal encore.
Working Class Hero (a portrait of John Lennon) is on show at Anna Schwarz Gallery, 245 Wilson Street, Darlington (Carriageworks), until 28 September, 2013.
“Stand by, Roll sound, Roll camera – ACTION!” and another group of delighted audience become part of the shooting of another TV Crime Show.
Amidst gales of laughter, a suspect protests his innocence with a most unlikely explanation, a policewoman throws the book at him (a small Yellow Pages at the table really, three times! Then collapses into giggles). Meanwhile in another inconspicuous corner four other audience members are in a car on a stake out surrounded by another ten or so people peering in. Elsewhere on this expansive ‘lot’ (it felt about half a football field), two young students enthusiastically kicked in a dunny door and assaulted the dummy they found inside, someone hesitantly pulled back a sheet covering a ‘body on a slab’ to find with relief it was only a mannequin, and yours truly was empanelled as part of an eight person jury that included a seven year old who promptly put his age up very convincingly to eighteen. Indeed he became our foreman.
It all sounds like and was a lot of fun.
My only reservations were that after a brief introduction to the concept and an invitation when a curtain was drawn to “Come on in and join the production!”, the stage manager, or “Floor Manager” to use the correct term, was not evident. It felt more like a “Living Art” exhibition and one was left to wander around aimlessly peering at this and that. It tended to lack overall cohesion. Indeed our group joined a preceding group and in the short time it took to get to the court room, I hadn’t time to see all the evidence!
The staging was grand scale – but which way to go? The performances were adequate, as was the script. But I was disappointed that the heckling jury member (Guilty – “NOT GUILTY!”), was not dealt with in the manner I would have expected from such an experienced performer as Chris Haywood who played the judge. (The first time I ever saw Chris perform he was a punk rocker you wouldn’t mess with, literally getting his teeth into a rat, a rubber one, in a 1970’s pubshow “Smiles and Piles”). On this occasion he simply went back to the script. He did acknowledge the outburst, directing “amateur performance” at me. Still, it’s a great concept.
BINGO UNIT is playing till Saturday evening July 13 at Carriageworks, 245 Wilson Street, Eveleigh. Check the Carriageworks official website- www.carriageworks.com.au for session times.
CESENA, ROSAS companion piece to EN ATTENDANT, is just as mesmerising.
It starts with a snap to blackout and in the gloom a full throated call to the dawn by a nude male. Throughout the show there is a sense of ancient pagan ritual and worship, a hymn to the sun and creation.
In EN ATENDANT the dominant visual theme was a simple straight line of earth at the front of the stage (that was worn down by the dancers moving across it), in CESENA it is a huge circle that the dancers obliterate with their movements.
In CESENA there is a feeling that the dancers were like free ,bobbing molecules .De Keersmaeker worked closely with Bjorn Schmelzer and his graindelavoix ensemble. The singers dance and the dancers sing .We become absorbed in the very tricky bubbling, rippling, tumbling rhythms of the glorious acapella voices . For one section the eerie ticking of a metronome is used. There is also a rhythm of call and response. In one section the cast sing while lying down or sitting.
Stillness contrasted with explosive movement is used too. Some sections of the work have huge blocks of movement by the entire cast, at others there are small short solos. In some parts there were set line of movement and synchronised walking was again featured. Choreographically for me the work has snippets that were reminiscent of Pina Bausch and Siobhan Davies .
There was a lot more floor work, rolls, slips, slides. There are amazing lifts and rolls, lunges and jumps and the use of fall and recovery and off-balance.
For the finale there is a magnificent coup de theatre where the back doors are opened -as if returning us to the ‘real’ world? offering vistas of possibilities? – and the cast vanishes upstage left.
A breathless, stunned pause and then the audience erupted with fiercely enthusiastic applause.
ROSAS ‘CESENA’ played at Carriageworks on the 14th and 15th September, 2012.
Tags: Sydney Stage Reviews- ROSAS Dance Company, CESENA, Carriageworks, Olalla Aleman, Haider, Al Timimi, Bostjan Antoncic, Aron Blom, Carlos Garbin, Marie Goudot, Lieven Gouwy, David Hernandez, Matej Kejzar, Mikael Marklund, Tomas Maxe, Julien Monty,Chrysa Parkinson ,Marius Peterson, Michael Pomero, Albert Riera, Gabriel Schenker, Yves Van Handenhove,Sandy Williams, Sydney Arts Guide, Lynne Lancaster