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Dance Massive 2013


 Da Contents H2

dance massive 2013
March 27 2013
dance: installed, immersed, hybridised
keith gallasch: dance massive 2013

quotidian moves, gangnam-style
philipa rothfield: ben speth, wetubelive

dance massive 2013
sounds to dance to, with, against
gail priest: sound design in dance massive 2013

March 26 2013
the life in the work
philipa rothfield: tracie mitchell, dance screen retrospective

youtubing live
varia karipoff: ben speth, wetubelive

dance massive 2013
March 24 2013
dance & disorientation
keith gallasch: tim darbyshire, more or less concrete

more or less monstrous
jana perkovic: atlanta eke, monster body

realtime tv: tim darbyshire, more of less concrete, dance massive 2013

March 22 2013
ritual entwining
philipa rothfield: soo yeun you, [gu:t] [work-in-progress]

strange affliction: dance massive & transcendence
keith gallasch: jo lloyd, future perfect

March 21 2013
a not so private hearing
carl nilsson-polias: tim darbyshire, more or less concrete

realtime tv: antony hamilton, black projects 1& 2, dance massive 2013

something ends, something begins
virginia baxter: dance exchange, dance for the time being - southern exposure

dance massive 2013
the perfection of submission
varia karipoff: jo lloyd, future perfect

March 20 2013
inner fury, seductive skill
philipa rothfield: anouk van dijk, chunky move, 247 days

March 20 2013
old tropes & the new disconnect
carl nilsson-polias: lucy guerin inc & belvoir, conversation piece

March 19 2013
now, then, now
keith gallasch: sandra parker, the recording

realtime tv: anouk van dijk, 247 days, chunky move, dance massive 2013

dance massive 2013
March 18 2013
creating an affective community
jana perkovic: matthew day, intermission

fun and the damage done
keith gallasch: larissa mcgowan, skeleton

more than smoke and mirrors
virginia baxter: ashley dyer, life support

realtime tv: lee serle, p.o.v., dance massive 2013

March 17 2013
realtime tv: dalisa pigram, gudirr gudirr, dance massive 2013

the body un-mirrored
jana perkovic: anouk van dijk, chunky move, 247 days

the origins of feeling
philipa rothfield: sandra parker, the recording

March 16 2013
realtime tv: stephanie lake, dual, dance massive 2013

dance massive 2013
March 15 2013
a dance for dark times
virginia baxter: dalisa pigram, gudirr gudirr

brittle bones & internal electricity
carl nilsson-polias: larissa mcgowan, skeleton

in the thick of it
philipa rothfield: lee serle, p.o.v.

March 15 2013
inside the audience
jana perkovic: lee serle, p.o.v

the poetry of pain
keith gallasch: stephanie lake, dual

dance massive 2013
when two become one
varia karipoff: stephanie lake, dual

March 14 2013
blacker than black
keith gallasch: antony hamilton, black projects 1 & 2

life in a puff
carl nilsson-polias: ashley dyer, life support

March 13 2013
dark symmetries
carl nilsson-polias: antony hamilton, black projects 1 & 2

lines of flight
philipa rothfield: dalisa pigram, gudirr gudirr

dance massive 2013
suggestive formalism
jana perkovic: natalie abbott, physical fractals

unsettling the audience
varia karipoff: natalie abbott, physical fractals

February 22 2013
an intense manifestation of dance
philipa rothfield: dance massive 2013, melbourne

dance massive 2013: from the archive
lucy guerin inc, conversation piece; antony hamilton, black project; atlanta eke, this monster body; matthew day, intermission; jo lloyd, future perfect; tim darbyshire, more or less concrete; natalie abbot, physical fractals; ben speth, wetubelive


strange affliction: dance massive & transcendence

keith gallasch: jo lloyd, future perfect

Future Perfect, Jo Lloyd Future Perfect, Jo Lloyd
photo Ponch Hawkes

Curiously, as RealTime Associate Editor Gail Priest suggested to me, musically and costume-wise Lloyd looks back to a popular culture past in order to find the means to achieve transcendence now. Priest pointed to a similar impulse in Balletlab’s And All Things Return to Nature (which will be reviewed in RealTime 114; it was not part of the Dance Massive program).

The perfection offered by transcendence which is sought in Lloyd’s work is indeterminate, but it has religious connotations. The five dancers function with intense communality, as an organism of worship, arms reaching up uniformly, bodies forming tightly entwined clusters and lines with precise, darting head movements or hands raised in apparent supplication, or palms to palms, face to face signalling total togetherness. Precise, rapid movement, recurrent gestures and eyes filled with awe convey a frightening obsessiveness apt in an era of ever-burgeoning fundamentalisms. Occasionally the group flies apart, individuals spinning or gesticulating furiously, only to seamlessly reform with a common pulse.

Future Perfect, Jo Lloyd Future Perfect, Jo Lloyd
photo Ponch Hawkes
The glitter and cut of the costuming, against a gleaming foil sheet the width of the stage, evokes 80s glam rock; the music, with its swelling themes and accessible tonality, makes a perfect partner. You might think that the juxtaposition of these ingredients and a pumping dance of adoration would yield laughter, but the effect is not ironic, although some of the ecstatic limb quivering and mechanistic head turns are faintly comic.

It’s the ending of Future Perfect that casts a pall over the hope that a shared spirituality can embody perfection, and there’s nothing at all funny about it. A recurrent motif has one of the group’s members falling to the floor, presumably in a state of ecstatic collapse. In a final sequence, each member moves towards the audience, topples, is quickly rescued, taken upstage and resurrected while another individual moves forward. This cycle is repeated but more darkly as the treatment of those who have fallen becomes less caring with individuals dragged away and wrestled to the floor. In the third cycle, care returns.

This last scene is highly ambiguous. A failure of ritual? The participants no longer look to the heavens, but out at the audience. Ecstasy, if that’s what it is, is short-lived and part of a struggle, devoid of the danced cohesion that opened Future Perfect. The prelude to this finale is a series of recorded utterances, prefiguring the ambiguity to come, including, “I just gave into it,” “I just wanted to go home. I wasn’t myself,” “I couldn’t feel my body,” “I was watching the community from the outside,” “It was all so perfect.”

Structurally, Future Perfect has strengths and weaknesses. The trajectory from tautly cohesive worship to crumbling ritual is strong, revealing a succession of states of being and means of expressing unity and transcendence. There’s even an odd folk like dance passage to an engaging musical chiming (distorting badly), not dissimilar in mood to a protracted left foot-right foot bouncing routine in Brooke Stamp’s equally ritualistic And All Things Return to Nature. There’s also a passage, prior to the final movement, in which this group of perhaps proselytising worshippers consumes more and more of the space around it, individual members preoccupied with their own moves.

Less structurally and thematically certain is the insertion of a video animation (Rhian Hinkley) duplicated on screens either side of the foil wall. It shows faces of some of the dancers in states of digital dissolution, sliced into stacked landscape-like layers or spinning slowly outwards in cosmic whorls. While interesting in itself, the video, presumably representing a sense of oneness with the universe, the ensuing blackout and the feeling of starting up again significantly disrupts the organic flow of Future Perfect.

Future Perfect, Jo Lloyd Future Perfect, Jo Lloyd
photo Ponch Hawkes
If not an entirely satisfactory work, with its odd retro-futuristic framing and uncertain structure, Future Perfect did suggest, if quite apolitically, issues around the interplay of movement, spirit and community in an era in which atheism and religion do battle, fundamentalisms are oppressive (but liberating for many) and transcendence is sought through religion, drugs or a feeling of being at one with the universe often associated with dance.

Doubtless Lloyd was not thinking so broadly, or deeply, about such matters, but Future Perfect suggested much in its own idiosyncratic way. As Stephanie Lake and Antony Hamilton have made clear in their realtime tv interviews, their aesthetic intentions were quite formal, abstract even, and they have been surprised at the sheer volume of literal interpretation applied to their works. Roland Barthes once wrote words to the effect that “denotation is the last of the connotations.” There’s a human impulse to constantly make sense, attaching the all too many signifiers that buzz about our brains to anything that does not immediately suggest meaning, and sooner or later we arrive at what ‘it’s about.’

In the work of Russell Dumas however you feel you’re simply seeing movement—although there are the often fascinating connotations of provenance: ballet, a broad spectrum of modern dance, contact improvisation and generations of Dumas-influenced dancers. There are even moments in Dance for the time being, as Virginia Baxter points out in her review, where a surprise movement is unusually suggestive.

Works by younger choreographers—Natalie Abbott’s Physical Fractals and Tim Darbyshire’s More or Less Concrete—refuse literal meaning because of their sheer strangeness, although the latter’s creation of some kind of strange organism (made up of three merging and de-merging performers) suggests incidental kinship with Gideon Obarzanek’s Glow and Mortal Engine and Antony Hamilton’s Black Project 2, as well as the clustering bodies in Lloyd’s Future Perfect.

Larissa McGowan’s Skeleton and Anouk Van Dijk’s 247 Days for Chunky Move, are clearly about something—young minds and bodies. But as Van Dijk says in her realtime tv interview, what seized her was the sudden oscillations in the psyches of people in their 20s between euphoria and despair, a suddenness she captures in her distinctive choreography and the structure of 247 Days (see Philipa Rothfield’s review). This lends the work an almost ritualistic fervour that resonates with the push for release and transcendence in the other works mentioned here and the slippage between individual states and compulsive togetherness, cosmically choral even in 247 Days.

However, when most dancing in Dance Massive which is bolstered by huge experimental musical compositions and wrap-around sounds that increasingly occupy the affective space of dance, only Tim Darbyshire deploys intense slowness of movement and subtle sonics that actually come from the dancers. Perhaps this is just another means to achieve a sense of immersion for the audience in an era preoccupied with achieving transcendence, secular or religious.

Dance Massive: Arts House & Jo Lloyd: Future Perfect, choreographer, director Jo Lloyd, performers Luke George, Madeleine Krenek, Shian Law, Jo Lloyd, Lily Paskas, lighting, set designer Jennifer Hector, music Duane Morrison, costumes Doyle Barrow, projection designer Rhian Hinkley, Arts House, Meat Market, Melbourne, March 20-24;

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

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