After the demise of Spring Dance, the annual winter festival of contemporary dance at the Sydney Opera House, many dancers and dance lovers were left scratching their heads over what might replace it.
Filling the gap - and then some - Performance Space and Carriageworks have devised Score, a five-week festival of dance and sound art. Audiences can expect the unexpected: a dancer working with a body builder, for example, and concrete mixers used as musical instruments.
“There are amazing things in this festival,” says Kate Champion, director of dance theatre company Force Majeure. “There’s been a feeling that we don’t really have a festival in Sydney with an emphasis on the body and physicality and dance and I think Performance Space is addressing that in this forum.”
Artistic director Jeff Khan says Performance Space has always championed the edgier and more experimental side of contemporary dance and performance making, often in a festival setting.
“Score will be a building-wide festival at Carriageworks that occurs in every theatre and gallery space and it really focuses on works led by dance and sound artists,” Khan says. “All of the works will have an interesting and innovative sound score – hence the title of the festival.”
One of the highlights is dancer Natalie Abbott’s Maximum (August 27-30), a duo for herself and body builder Donny Henderson-Smith, scored live by sound artist Daniel Arnott.
“At first I wanted to be lifted off the ground for 45 minutes, non-stop,” Abbott says. “But I soon realised that Donny was far more interesting and exciting and had more diverse skills than just dead-lifting. So we went from there. I was aiming to create a work that looks at the similarities between the two bodies, rather than the obvious disparities.”
Melbourne dance company Chunky Move will present Keep Everything (August 13-16), a new work by multi-award winning choreographer Anthony Hamilton. “He is an exciting young choreographer whose work is usually very precise and mathematical,” says Khan. “But in Keep Everything, we’ve challenged him to let go of that minimalism to expand his dance vocabulary and literally keep everything he has from working in the studio. It’s a really exciting step for him as a choreographer.”
Kate Champion’s Force Majeure is presenting Culminate (August 13-16), a lab-style project supporting three emerging choreographers - Victoria Hunt, Jason Pitt and Ghenoa Gela - from culturally diverse backgrounds working with nine professional dancers. “I’ve been a sounding board for advice and encouragement and now they are giving a public performance of a work-in-progress,” Champion says. “I find audiences love seeing a work that isn’t neatly presented as a finished product. The audience will be part of something that is still undergoing experimentation and they’ll be seeing exciting artists who are developing their voices.”
The sound art highlight will be Ghan Tracks (August 7-9) by Jon Rose with Ensemble Offspring and Speak Percussion. Rose, a violin-trained performer who now uses a wide range of non-traditional instruments, was last seen at Carriageworks playing an abandoned car found in the outback in Wreck during Sydney Festival 2013. Inspired by the Ghan railway line and its impact on early colonisation, Ghan Tracks is a one-hour performance featuring two actors, filmed footage, field recordings and instruments including a vibraphone, a bike-powered string instrument and a cement mixer full of gravel.
“It is going to be spectacular,” Khan says. “Jon’s work is very entertaining to watch. The instruments are so unconventional and the way they perform is so unconventional that it is utterly compelling.”
PERFORMANCE SPACE: SCORE
When Friday August 1 – Sunday September 7.
Where Carriageworks, 245 Wilson St, Eveleigh.
Tickets From free-$35 (see two shows with a Daily Double pass for $40), 8571 9111 or performancespace.com.au/events/score.
Show Five-week festival of contemporary dance, movement and music featuring leading choreographers, composers and performers.
Highlights Keep Everything (Chunky Move), Ghan Tracks (Jon Rose), Hiding in Plain Sight (Narelle Benjamin), Culminate (Force Majeure, Performance Space and Carriageworks), Maximum (Natalie Abbott).