MoveMe Dance Makers: Feats of strength

Rita Clarke, The Australian

Richard Cilli’s short, arresting curtain-raiser This is Now opens Co3’s double bill in the MoveMe Dance Makers Project. Fourteen dancers from Link Dance Company emit strange noises and reveal red synthetic pompoms that cover their hands. They make a swishing sound as they intricately vacuum up the space with magnificent chutzpah.

Co3’s In-Lore Act II, choreographed by Chrissie Parrott, is about a ghostly stranger (Tanya Brown) who disrupts a family of five. Parrott’s work demands almost superhuman strength, gladiatorial endurance and dramatic power, which Co3’s Brown, Ella-Rose Trew, Katherine Gurr, Zoe Wozniak, Andrew Searle and David Mack possess in spades. Space for Parrott is like a canvas: she situates important things in different pockets of the stage so you need to be vigilant. There’s a wooden table to the side where dancers are manipulated and silently and furiously argue. Duets are performed with torturous impact, in which shoulders enforce subservience.

A recurring action, in which one dancer stands behind another and both put out their curved arms, is quite beautiful. It’s sad, joyous and magnificently performed, with tantalising music by Eden Mulholland. You can never tear your eyes from a multifaceted Parrott work or the superlative dancers of Co3.

In You Do Ewe the same dancers, plus Mitch Harvey (replacing Mack), perform a humorous piece commissioned by Co3 from Amy Wiseman, Carly Armstrong and Jessica Lewis of Unkempt Dance. Searle is a self-obsessed show host and the others eager contestants. Talking incessantly, donning outrageous wigs and showing off, the six compete with utter contempt for decorum. The top moment is Wozniak’s spotlit performance like Beyonce. With Mulholland’s music, this is an audience-pleaser, clever and fun.

The WA Dance Makers Project showcases variety and creativity

Graeme Watson, OutinPerth

Western Australia’s premier contemporary dance company Co3 Australia deliver a trio of treats with the WA Dance Makers Project. Celebrating the work of local choreographers, the performances cover a diverse range of styles and show that modern dance can be many different things.

First up was a performance from the WA Academy of Performing Arts’ Link Dance Company. Richard Cilli’s This is Now would make for a perfect video clip for Daft Punk’s next release.

Cilli trained at WAAPA and was a member of the Steps Youth Dance Company in his teenage years – that company has since morphed to become Co3’s Act-Belong-Commit Youth Ensemble, so it’s wonderful to see a dancer progressing through their career and into choreography.

The stage was filled by fourteen dancers dressed in dark tones with scarlet splashes. They began to boldly make sounds. “Pom! Pom!” they chanted, followed by a mix of whooshes, whizzes, brrrrrrs and other sounds.

Slowly from behind their backs they revealed they were each holding two red pom-poms, “Pom! Pom!” indeed. So began an energetic and fast moving piece that explored the theme of how organisations evolve descending in and out of chaos. The second piece from dance legend Chrissie Parrott was a more narrative based piece. In-Lore Act II began with a family sitting around the dining room table, the light of an old 1970’s TV flickering upon them. On the other side of the stage a woman in a white dress stands under a spotlight, slowly she begins to enter and interact with their world.

While Parrott’s latest creation is a narrative based work, exactly what that narrative is though is probably different for each audience member. There are themes of family, disruption and possibly infidelity throughout the work. The overwhelming feeling watching the performance was one of dread and impending violence, which is impressive because there was nothing that particularly triggered these emotions, but the combination of movement, sound and lighting oozed trepidation.

The final piece You Do Ewe, a new commission from the trio Unkempt, was a lighthearted, comedic and fun piece. One by one the dancers took to the stage introducing themselves. As each performer came in to the performance space they would grab the microphone and begin chatting away.

They progressed into a cha-cha tango routine where nothing was quite matched properly. Hands which would have traditionally been on a partner’s shoulders were instead of their knees or elbows or buttocks, creating a comedic and odd series of movements.

What was lovely about this work was that the dancer’s individual personalities were central to the performance, you got a feeling of really getting to know Andrew, Ella-Rose, Katherine, Zoe, Tanya and Mitch. It was camp and crazy, abrasive and loud. Some of the individual segments perhaps went a little too long, and while the material drew howls of laughter from the opening night audience, I wondered what the reaction would be in subsequent performances when the number of friends and family would be lower.

The great strength of this collection of works is its diversity, they are three distinctively different pieces in style and tone, a tasting plate of what contemporary dance can be.

A dynamic showcase

Jo Pickup, Seesaw 

Co3 Australia’s “WA Dance Makers Project” opened the 2018 MoveMe Festival of contemporary dance with a triple bill of new works. As the name suggests, the season has been specially designed to showcase the choreographic talent here in Western Australia – and with the wealth of dance talent on offer in this state, one might imagine curating such a season to be an unenviable task.

Co3 Artistic Director Raewyn Hill relished the opportunity, however, describing her curatorial choices as a chance to bring together “unique and dynamic women” to “celebrate a powerhouse of WA female choreographic talent.” From the creepy to the comedic, her favoured works presented a diverse array of contemporary dance, providing a powerhouse experience for viewers.

The curtain-raiser was a piece by celebrated contemporary dancer Richard Cilli who, though WA-born-and-trained, was obviously an exception to Hill’s female-focused vision for the season. For his “WA Dance Makers” piece, entitled This Is Now, he worked with dancers from WAAPA’s student company, LINK.

From this work’s beginning, the audience is drawn into a dark environment pulsing with fiery heat. Fourteen dancers appear out of the dim, dressed in red and black, to take their place on stage armed with determined, steely glares.

It is, therefore, an interesting twist to see them erupt into a strange melodic word-song – repeating the word “pom” at various pitches and intervals, creating a whimsical barbershop choir. This bouncing melody segues into equally unexpected movement sequences; the dancers are revealed to be sassy, pom-pom toting cheerleaders.

Yet this is no ordinary half-time fan-squad display. This team of high-kickers stabs and thrusts its red accoutrements into the air with a gusto that borders on maniacal. There is certainly a dark underbelly to the group’s glossy, swishing veneer.

Highlights of this work were the quintessential team-USA style routines, replete with disciplined formations and breakaways, performed by the LINKers with a nice mix of splendour and spirit.

After a short blackout, it was time to see veteran WA choreographer Chrissie Parrott’s latest creation – In-Lore Act II, another work with a strangely dark atmosphere.

As the stage lights go up, we see a small “family” of characters clad in dusty, old-fashioned Scottish garb, sitting around a large wooden dining table. Their house is stuffy (perhaps haunted?) and the air is filled with a spooky, unnerving tension.

The opening solo (danced by Tanya Brown) presents a tortured spirit-figure in a cream silk-satin nightdress. Under the spotlight, her moves are a mix of the beastly and the beautiful. Flinching and flowing, she appears to be suffering under the weight of something colossal, as if there is something terrible repressed deep inside her.

The piece continues in this eerie vein as six dancers (Ella-Rose Trew, Andrew Searle, Katherine Gurr, Zoe Wozniak, Tanya Brown and David Mack), play out narratives of various strained relationships (between family? lovers? It’s never quite clear). The soundscape, composed by Eden Mulholland, is full of shrill cello strings countered by low- electronic rumblings. These sounds coat the auditorium in a mist of music reminiscent of Wuthering Heights.

Overall, this piece is a rather slow-moving mystery, peppered with occasional thrilling moments when dancers are grouped in trios or duets that allow them to wholeheartedly embrace their characters within the overarching old-lore tale. In this regard, Zoe Wozniak was a stand-out on the night.

The final work, performed after the show’s short interval, was You Do Ewe by Unkempt Dance, a crowd favourite that was a much-needed emotional upswing after the intensity of the first half.

Unkempt Dance is a collective of three female WA choreographers: Carly Armstrong, Jessica Lewis and Amy Wiseman, and their combined forces consistently produce dance theatre work that is witty, cheerful, and so damn clever! In You Do Ewe they take the audience on a hilarious romp through their Co3 cast members’ inner-psyches, using a single microphone; a series of playful puns, and a bunch of sheeny-shiny acrylic wigs.

The performances by cast members Ella-Rose Trew, Andrew Searle, Katherine Gurr, Zoe Wozniak, Tanya Brown and Mitch Harvey were a delight. Each performer brought a unique flavour to their various roles – which swung from playing effusive, overblown game-show hosts, to being raw, vulnerable versions of themselves.

All in all, it’s a work that proved highly entertaining and wonderfully thought-provoking.

So here’s to more opportunities to showcase the work of WA dance makers in future. This “WA Dance Makers” triple bill was a reminder that our state’s dance artists have so many dynamic ideas to share, not just at MoveMe festival time, but all year round.

Forest folklore enchants

Annelies Gartner, The West Australian

Myths and legends inspire choreographer, finds Annelies Gartner. A love of Nordic culture was the inspiration for choreographer Chrissie Parrott’s latest dance work In-Lore Act II.

“All the folklore and the danger of that frozen world and what lurks in those forests,” Parrott says during a break in rehearsals at the State Theatre Centre.

“There is a lot of mystery and magic in that place, so it sort of informed my ideas when I first started writing the work.”

Parrott developed the work for WA Dance Makers Project, which launches the MoveMe Festival; a showcase of contemporary dance. Co3 Australia’s artistic director Raewyn Hill curated the double bill, which features Parrott’s work and a piece by Unkempt Dance trio Amy Wiseman, Carly Armstrong and Jessica Lewis.

“The idea originally came from an independent project that I put together at PICA with three writers, two actors and two dancers,” she explains. “We made three plays and a dance work and Raewyn Hill saw the dance component and she said ‘I love that, I just want you to work through the dance component’.

“So lurking in the ether, I still have three plays that are directly linked to this work that were written by playwrights.” The Act II in the title of the work, featuring six Co3 dancers, comes from this initial concept. “The Act II is my tongue-in-check prod that it will be a bigger work one day – it will have Act I and Act III,’ she says.

For Parrott, the In-Lore in the title refers to the myths and legends she finds so interesting. “The In-Lore thing is about the folkloric aspect of an idea right through history,” she says. ‘Outside of society, there is always this other thing outside of the walls of the castle. There was a dragon but was that real or was it a political ploy to keep people inside the gates?” “It’s always that outside energy that has informed a lot of the folkloric stories right through history, so that’s where the lore part of it comes from, from folklore.”

In Parrott’s work, an outsider is introduced to a group of people and creates a disturbance. “She infiltrates this other unit – this unit of relatives – and she changes things around, she messes things up and by the end of it, things have really changed,” she says.

Although there is a theatrical aspect to Parrott’s work, she is always fascinated with other people’s interpretations. “I’m always interested myself when I watch work that has some hidden secrets,” she says. “I can sit there and find those as well as enjoying the movement that goes on.”

MoveMe Festival will offer Parrott the opportunity as an observer to discover and relish in the human form through dance.

“We’ve got The Farm coming – I’m really looking forward to that,” she enthuses. “Gavin Webber and Grayson Millwood, I’ve got to say without question, are my favourite choreographers in Australia, or directors, my most favourite – so I’ll be there will bells on.”

As well as the chance to see a work by the Queensland-based collective of dance and theatre artists, Parrott thinks the festival is also valuable for local choreographers. “I think it is very important as an adjunct to the bigger festivals that happen,” she says.

“It gives local choreographers an opportunity to show their work in a focused way… they don’t have those kind of budgets or publicity to put it together, so this is an opportunity for people to be part of a festival which means we are attracting more people, more people see the work and ultimately

On the Couch with Chrissie Parrott

Arts Review

Who is Chrissie Parrott?
Chrissie Parrott is dance maker and a practicing artist who works across the disciplines of theatre, digital art, painting and decorative design. Her professional performance based practice stretches across more than 40 years. Presently developing her writing skills and about to enrol into university at 65 to study and research sustainable lifestyles and social justice.

What would you do differently to what you do now?
I love painting and design and if I had have had more time aside from family and my dance career, I would have loved to have ventured into set painting and stage design. However I could unlikely replace the love of being in a space with generous and brilliant artists who are there interpreting my ideas, acting out inside my imaginary landscape, and discovering the inner logic of new work.

Who inspires you and why?
My incredible father his teachings of generosity empathy and his wicked sense of humour, my days with him are filled with laughter and silliness! My son who manages to deal with his MS in a graceful and quiet way, he inspires me as I watch him push through the barriers and evolve into a beautiful human being.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
I have a great in interest social justice and concepts that focus on the relationship among human groups, like decreasing or eliminating inequity , promoting diversity and establishing environments that are supportive of all people.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
Avignon in southern France and Nannup in southern WA both with similar undulating terrain, the dry heat of summer and magical misty winter mornings.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take then to, and why?
I always want to show them the coastline. We are so blessed here in WA with stunning beaches and there is nothing like watching the myriad colours of sunset as the sun slips into the sea.

What are you currently reading?
Stigmata by Helene Cixous – this French feminist’s brilliant words are my constant companion. The Pigeon by Patrick Suskind.

What are you currently listening to?
The new score written by the New Zealander Eden Mulholland which will accompany In Lore Act II – my latest dance work for Co3 Australia’s WA Dance Maker’s Project. It weaves haunting cello, voice, spoken word and vast open granular space, an ideal filmic-style score for this new dance work.

Happiness is?
Cool misty mornings and fresh country air, a long view from an elevated vista looking out toward the horizon, eating King Prawns and fresh fruits and sipping cold bubbly with my family and friends.

What does the future hold for you?
I hope to continue my artistic practices in dance theatre and visual and decorative arts while living on my small property in the South West where I hope create an intimate artists’ residency space for visiting artists to come and stay, create and share with me. Enjoying a sustainable lifestyle growing fresh produce and being part of the co-operative community that resides in the beautiful town of Nannup in the South West of WA.

WA dance makers leap into the Move Me Dance Festival

Graeme Watson, OutinPerth

As part of the Move Me Dance Festival this month contemporary dance company Co3 Australia is launching a double bill of new works the WA Dance Makers Project.

The celebration of exciting dance theatre works will feature choreography from the dynamic trio Unkempt and a creative work from dance legend Chrissie Parrott.

Amy Wiseman, who is one third of the trio Unkempt alongside Carly Armstrong and Jessica Lewis, chatted to OUTinPerth about the work they are creating.

Wiseman says the trip began working together when their students in the Link Dance Company at the West Australian Academy of Performing Arts but it wasn’t until much later that they decided to formally become a collective.

“We were going out and seeing lots of shows and talking about what we liked seeing, and experimenting a little bit in the studio. Quite early on we decided to give ourselves a name” Wiseman said.

Comedy is often a key ingredient in the collectives work and Wiseman agrees it’s not the first thing you think of in a dance work. “A lot of the work we were seeing was serious, but as friends we joke a lot and we were interested in bringing that element to the stage.”

For the upcoming festival the trio have created a work called You Do Ewe. Wiseman says the inspiration for the performances comes from our modern lives where we wear many different hats.

“We have a professional hat that we wear, we have our social hat, our family hat, our relationship hat, lots of version of ourselves. We kept coming across this mantra of ‘just be yourself’ but it seemed like defining yourself down to one idea of who you was quite limiting.

Wiseman said gender fluidity was one of the ideas that they’d been playing with in the rehearsals, saying that sometimes we do create a different version of ourselves to try out new spaces and ideas.

Coupled together with the new work from the Unkempt trio will be a bold new work from respected choreographer Chrissie Parrott, who tells us that while many dance makers start their work with music or movement, she’s always been more literary focussed.

Her contribution to the WA Dance Makers Project is a new work In-Lore Act II, Having created over 80 works during her long career this is Parrott’s first commission for Co3.

For this outing Parrott says it’s an opportunity to return to style of dance making she hasn’t engaged with for a while.

“I’m taking this opportunity to go back to my favourite of style of creating work, which I haven’t had the opportunity to do for a really long time, and that’s to create a work that has a pseudo-narrative. It falls into what we call literary fiction, it’s poetic. Broad stokes around ideas about the outsider in society.” Parrott said.

Feeling like an outsider is something Parrott feels a strong affinity to, “I’m a migrant, I’m from Britain”. When she first began to study dance seriously in her teens she found herself separate from the other aspiring dancers who came from upper class backgrounds. “I was this girl from Northern England, I had to learn quickly to adapt.”

Parrott says that feeling influenced a lot of her early work and she’s enjoying returning to the theme. “It’s a great opportunity, it’s always a good fodder for a dance work, or any work.”

Chrissie Parrott returns to the stage with Co3

Dance Informa

 

Co3 Australia Artistic Director Raewyn Hill was tapping into the pulse of social sentiment when she curated WA Dance Makers Project, a new season for the state contemporary dance company that launches the MoveMe Festival in September at the State Theatre Centre of Western Australia.

Under Hill’s direction, the new season celebrates a powerhouse of WA female choreographic talent, headlined by Australian dance legend and WA State Living Treasure Chrissie Parrott, who has created over 90 dance works. It’ll also present a unique opportunity for the innovative trio of Unkempt Dance (Amy Wiseman, Carly Armstrong and Jessica Lewis) to present their first mainstage work for Perth-based Co3 Australia.

“The idea of bringing these dynamic women together in a new season has been bubbling away for a while – and I guess in terms of timing, this programming decision sits within the wider context of issues around gender recognition, and the recent findings in Andrews Westle’s Turning Pointe: Gender Equality in Australian Dance report, commissioned by Creative Victoria and published online through Delving Into Dance, which points toward gender inequality within Australian performing arts,” comments Hill, who has recently become a mother to baby Harvey.

“Australia has so many incredible women making outstanding contributions to contemporary dance, alongside our male counterparts. And look at the young talent coming through, like Isabella Mason (a third-year student at VCA) and the provocative Where We Stand she courageously presented in June – that’s brave work,” Hill added.

 

For Parrott, the creative journey toward her new work (In-Lore Act II) began during an invitation from Hill to be a part of Co3’s two-year project Reason for Being, with support from Wesfarmers Arts and the Australia Council for the Arts, at the Art Gallery of WA. Beginning development in early 2017, Parrott’s work was prescient in relation to themes explored.

“A stranger – a myth – perhaps a ghost from their ancestral past. Coaxing this curious little family to question their place in the world on the planet, she leads them astray, fracturing their daily routine out of their (dis)comfort zone. It is about the universal spirit, with an undercurrent of nature’s vulnerability personified by a female performer. It’s her story, the story of our universe, our planet,” Parrott explains.

 

Supporting the next generation of WA talent, ECU’s LINK Dance Company will also showcase a new work by Richard Cilli as curtain-raiser to Co3 Australia within the WA Dance Makers Project season. This relationship with LINK has been one of the cornerstones of Hill’s directorship at Co3.

“It’s vital that companies engage with the tertiary sector directly. The staff and training at WAAPA, and Michael Whaites [artistic director of LINK Dance Company] and the leaders of LINK before Michael, have been instrumental in developing strong, articulate dance artists here in WA, many of whom are Co3 artists,” Hill said. “Cementing a partnership with LINK was vital for me once I was appointed at Co3 Australia and now we have an annual residency program which exposes the next generation of artists to the company and a pathway to employment.”

Inside the WA Dance Makers Project

Nina Levy, Seesaw Magazine

 

This September, Co3 Australia will launch the 2018 MoveMe Festival with a double dance bill celebrating four dynamic West Australian women, led by the legendary Chrissie Parrott. Nina Levy headed into the rehearsal studio to find out more.

 

It’s a chilly Thursday afternoon but inside Rehearsal Room 2 at the State Theatre Centre it feels summer-warm and a little sweaty, evidence that the black-clad dancers of Co3 Australia have been hard at work. They’re preparing for the company’s upcoming season, “WA Dance Makers Project”, which will be presented as part of the 2018 MoveMe Festival, and I’m lucky enough to be attending an exclusive studio showing of the works in progress. As the name suggests, this double bill is all about supporting WA choreographers, with the headline work created by State Living Treasure Chrissie Parrott, supported by a new piece from the delightfully quirky Unkempt Dance (Carly Armstrong, Jessica Lewis and Amy Wiseman), and a curtain-raiser choreographed by WA born-and-trained Richard Cilli, performed by WAAPA’s LINK Dance Company.

With over 90 dance works in her back catalogue, you’d think that Parrott might be running out of ideas, but the glimpse we get of her new work, In-Lore Act II, indicates that this veteran choreographer is still exploring new concepts. While the whimsical gestures and folky accompaniment of the opening trio (performed here as a duo by Katherine Gurr and Zoe Wozniak because the third performer is unwell) might, fleetingly, remind those in the know of 2009’s The Garden, the pace and precision demanded by this fast and furious number give it a very different look.

In the Q&A that follows the showing, Parrott talks about those folky touches. “I have this inkling towards Nordic folklore,” she explains. “The music that you heard is a Swedish folkloric song and there are ideas of some of the mystery and magic that continues to hold in the folklore of those cold, dark places, so that’s fed into this work. It’s got a richness to it that is universal, I think, even though it’s got that Nordic edge to it. That’s why the work is called In-Lore, because it has a folkloric aspect to it.”

In spite of that folklore element, the starting point for In-Lore Act II isn’t a narrative. “The work has never started with a narrative, except for my secret narrative without a story or story without a narrative,” says Parrott enigmatically. “So we’ve started with very simple abstract tasks that you give dancers and then we put them together, we mix and match dancers and develop them into work, until the narrative starts to reveal itself to me.”

Although Parrott says that the narrative has started to appear at the time of the showing (four weeks from opening), she’s not telling. “I won’t give away the narrative yet because I think when we get to the theatre it will give people the opportunity to write their own,” she explains. “You’ll see it and you’ll decide what the narrative is.”

Our In-Lore Act II preview is followed by a peek at Unkempt Dance’s new work, You Do Ewe. Comprised of dance artists Carly Armstrong, Jessica Lewis and Amy Wiseman, Unkempt has been making dance theatre with a comical streak since 2010. True to form, the choreography thus far includes lip-syncing, a hot pink wig, and an acrobatic approach to storytelling.

 

Those who saw Unkempt’s work for Strut Dance’s 2017 “Short Cuts” season, I Have Health Insurance Now will recall that work’s light-hearted take on what it means to be 30. Listening to the trio talk, it’s clear that there’s a relationship between that work and You Do Ewe.

“Our work for Co3 started from discussions about the phase of life that we’re in,” remarks Lewis. “We’re suddenly very aware of having lots of different roles, different hats we’re all wearing.” Like many independent artists, all three members of Unkempt have multiple jobs on the go, covering a range of skill sets. And so the three got thinking about some advice they’ve heard often, ‘Just be yourself’. “We wanted to unpack that idea,” says Lewis. “’Just be yourself’ is such a loaded statement, really.”

“We weren’t interested in just one ‘authentic’ version of self,” Armstrong adds. “We wanted to discover and explore the different facets of each dancer, and push some of these to a heightened level.”

“We’re also interested in the opportunity to slip into or try on other versions of yourself that might not feel comfortable, but will actually push you in a direction that is exciting or different,” Wiseman concludes. “We’re all for multiple selves.”

Choreographer Chrissie Parrott’s link to Co3 WA Dance Makers Project

Tanya MacNaughton, Eastern Reporter

 

THERE are a lot of ‘links’ in the curation of Co3 Australia contemporary dance company artistic director Raewyn Hill’s WA Dance Makers Project.

Not only has Hill invited celebrated Perth choreographer Chrissie Parrott to create work In-Lore Act II for the bill, but she also selected Unkempt Dance collective Amy Wiseman, Jessica Lewis and Carly Armstrong to present their first main-stage work for Co3 too.

The trio met during their year dancing in LINK, the graduate dance company at WAAPA which Parrott established in 2002 during her time as a senior research fellow at ECU.

“The concept of having a graduate performance company meant that we could run the honours program like a professional dance company, giving them the link or bridge between education and profession,” Parrott said.

“It’s not only about being a brilliant dancer, it’s about being able to manage your budgets and direct dancers by being on the other side. It’s very rewarding to see the success of the Unkempt Dance girls and dancers in my project with Co3, many who have also come through the LINK course.”

LINK Dance Company will also showcase a new work by Richard Cilli as curtain-raiser to Co3’s WA Dance Makers Project, which launches the 11-day MoveMe Festival on September 12.

 

Parrott said the festival, a showcase of WA contemporary dance independent choreographers and dancers, was a necessary event.

“The Perth Festival is absolutely fantastic, there’s no question about that, but what it offers is international dance and international dancers,” she said.

“What the MoveMe Festival offers is Australian dancers, usually independent dancers, having the opportunity to have their work produced and seen at a professional level.”

 

Parrott, who has been a professional dance artist since joining WA Ballet at 19 years old, said she felt privileged to be working in the State Theatre Centre of WA studio with the six Co3 dancers.

“This particular work, In-Lore Act II, is about a stranger, a myth, a pseudo narrative that talks about a group of eccentric people who are interrupted from their daily routine by this outsider,” she said.

“Visually it’s very lyrical and fast. There are scenes where you smile because there’s dark humour in there but it is also very dark and passionate. It’s a strange work but I love it.”

Co3 Australia: Unkempt Dance at WA Dance Makers Project

Scenestr.

Co3 Australia’s Artistic Director, Raewyn Hill, was tapping into the pulse of social sentiment when she curated WA Dance Makers Project, a new season for the state contemporary dance company that launches the MoveMe Festival in September 2018 at the State Theatre Centre of Western Australia.

Under Raewyn’s direction, the new season celebrates a powerhouse of WA female choreographic talent, and a unique opportunity for the innovative trio of Unkempt Dance (Amy Wiseman, Carly Armstrong, and Jessica Lewis) to present their first main-stage work for Co3 Australia.

Here, Amy answers some questions about Unkempt Dance’s work ‘You Do Ewe’.

 

You guys are presenting ‘You Do Ewe’ as part of WA Dance Makers Project. Firstly, great name. Secondly… What’s the show all about?
Sheep. We thought contemporary dance was due some ovine flavour… But really this work arose out of a conversation about the often repeated advice to ‘just be yourself’. We found this maxim very limiting – why only be yourself when there are so many other options? We think that by trying on different versions, you can discover other aspects that you might not have realised were also ‘you’, or which may not be as familiar, but that you’d still be curious to explore. The advice also implies that we are the best judges of who we are – that we know all the possibilities of how to be ourselves. But if you’re the usual bundle of insecurities, maybe pretending to be someone else or trying on another version of the person you’re seen as can lead to something better, more interesting or more fulfilling.

 

What are your thoughts on being involved with WA Dance Makers Project?
It was a thrill to be asked to create a new work in this season and we are incredibly honoured to be programmed alongside Chrissie Parrott. Our works will be very different and we’re excited to see what she’s been dreaming up. The opportunity to work not only with the wonderful Co3 dancers, but also with the artistic team, a composer, lighting designer… It’s the whole package!

 

This is Co3’s first major commission for Unkempt Dance. How are you all feeling about how it’s coming along?
Although we had worked with a couple of the dancers before, we came into this process armed with a variety of tasks designed to get to know the other sides of each of them. Early days were composed of interviews, talent shows and abstract movement tasks designed to gain insight into their idiosyncrasies. We think they have enjoyed a chance to contribute so much of themselves in the work and we have loved the joy, commitment and ridiculousness that has been unfolding.

 

Where and how was Unkempt Dance born?
We all stayed on in Perth after studying at WAAPA, all working on different projects. We were good friends and regularly saw shows together, chatting about them afterwards over a coffee or wine. We first decided to make something together in 2010 and rather ambitiously decided to give ourselves a name as a collective. We’ve stuck together making work ever since! We still work on other things individually, but love coming together to bounce off each other. It always feels like a treat when we have a chance to create some nonsense together.

 

What do you have planned for the future as a trio?
Eating cheese together forever and ever.

 

For a bit of fun, describe ‘You Do Ewe’ to us, each using one song lyric… Any song lyric you like.
“I am Woman.”
“I am the Walrus.”
“I am Nicki Minaj.”