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No Time Like the Present, Wendy McPhee

Karen Pearlman

No Time Like the Present, Wendy McPhee No Time Like the Present, Wendy McPhee
photo Leigh Hobba
On paper it looks neat—three collaborators, three weeks, three subjects. But the tapestry these three threes weave together is richer than a simple braid. The working process to create No Time Like The Present, a collaboration of dance and design by Ruth Hadlow, Wendy McPhee and Cate O’Brien involved a complicated layering of necessity, risk and ideas, of intuition, structure and invention. Wendy, a feisty, explosive dancer brought an energising serving of necessity and intuition. She works from her kinetic intelligence, responding in movement to deeply felt imperatives. Ruth, ostensibly a “designer” is actually someone who is not afraid to get her hands dirty. She doesn’t decorate the work, she instigates, probes and designs it in the sense of devising. Her contribution to the working process of No Time Like the Present is another vital triple: “structure, hope and faith”. Cate makes the bridge between Ruth’s measured and optimistic approach and Wendy’s rush of expression. Although used to dancing in formalist work, depending on her very reliable and developed technique, Cate says calmly that when asked to do improvisation which may or may not have an outcome and to try a bit of “gush” dancing to Patsy Cline she was “willing to take the risk”. Audacity with equilibrium and a sense of perspective. And so the three were able to work together in a tightly structured and emotionally fraught three weeks to create No Time Like the Present, a work which started with a lot of ideas, developed into even more ideas and then filtered itself down to three: time, speed, and change. And in the end, while the finished work looks at these subjects from the point of view of time passing in decades, of the dizzying speed of the world, of the changes in society, the three collaborators agree, it’s also about their lives, and even about this working process. It’s a piece about time they wanted more time to make. A piece about speed that was made fast enough. And a piece about change that keeps changing. The working process created a finished work, but also the beginning of the performing process in which they have to balance, and wave and risk their way around Tasmania, ever updating their intentions within the piece and bringing it into their own time, which, certainly there is no time quite like.

No Time Like the Present is a dance and design collaboration by Ruth Hadlow, Wendy McPhee, and Cate O’Brien currently touring Tasmania. Karen Pearlman is co-artistic director of Tasdance

RealTime issue #13 June-July 1996 pg. 37

© Karen Pearlman; for permission to reproduce apply to [email protected]

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