angel-monster. Phluxus2 Dance Collective. Choreographed by Nerida Matthaei. QLtwo At Gorman, with performances for the public and school groups. March 22-23. eventbrite.com.au.
When Canberra-born choreographer Nerida Matthaei first conceived angel-monster in 2015 she never expected it to have an ever-evolving relevance four years on.
The powerful contemporary dance installation explores hard-hitting themes of feminism, violence, consent and empowerment, and new life has been breathed into it in this #metoo era.
“angel-monster is part of a larger, essential conversation around feminism, empowerment, equality, ownership, consent and individuality,” Matthaei said.
“Since we began creating the piece there has been a growing public stance that not only informed the work’s continuing development, but also reinforces its relevance in today’s social and cultural landscape.”
She says confronting such issues is a challenge whatever the art form.
“What we found as a team over the years, we've had quite a large creative team working on it, 15 different female artists have come in and out of the process over the years, and having a really female centric space meant that we were able to start sharing stories with each other that maybe we hadn't shared before.
“There's a lot of ourselves in the work and it was challenging on an emotional level.”
Phluxus2 Dance Collective – of which Matthaei is artistic director – will resurrect angel-monster, described as “part angelic beauty, part monstrous seductress”, for a series of public and school performances in Canberra on March 22-23.
Matthaei said the collective had had a strong connection with the education sector for about 10 years delivering arts projects and activities that both relevant to the curriculum and engaging for the students.
“In terms of what the work is about, some of the statistics state that one of the most important times, critical times, is between the ages of 12 and 17," she said.
“Some of the topics we're talking about are important for the younger generation to start thinking about if they ever want to be able to make change.
“They're important conversations that definitely need scaffolding, there's a lot of conversation that sits around it, there is a lot of understanding, being able to have conversations about certain things and while there are topics that are confronting they are real world topics.
“Some of the stories in the work are from when the artists were young teenagers themselves, we do consider the way we present the work to young people and that's why the age limit is a little higher.”
angel-monster is recommended for audiences 16 years and older for its adult themes and sexual references.
The work dissects what it means to be female, presenting each conflicting notion in an immersive and intimate dance installation that doesn’t hold audiences at arm’s length.
Matthaei has choreographed the piece with a roving audience experience in mind, where people are challenged to not only consider multiple viewpoints but observe the work itself from a 360-degree perspective.
She first breathed life into angel-monster in 2015 when researching her Doctor of Creative Industries, shaping the work with her own personal narratives.