INTERVIEW: Sally Richardson Standing Bird 2

Posted by Thom Smyth, November 6th, 2013

We have a soft spot for the team behind Standing Bird 2. Not only have we had the pleasure of working with the entire creative team individually on other projects – we worked alongside Sally, Danielle and Jacqui on the first iteration of Standing Bird for their premiere season in 2012 during Summer Nights and Fringe World. Billed as a bravura solo performance by Jacqui Claus (2012 Dance Australia Critics Choice – Most Outstanding Female Dancer), Standing Bird 2 has been re-structured, re-visioned and refined for Season Two at The Blue Room Theatre. We talk to Director and Performing Lines WA core artist Sally Richardson about what to expect.

Words: Sarah Rowbottam (SR) and Sally Richardson (SallyR)
Photos: Ashley de Prazer

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SR. You did it once, why do it again?
SallyR. You return to a work determined to make it better, and to resolve and refine your concept and your ideas. The initial devising space is such a different experience, with a high degree of uncertainty and is always limited by the time and resources available to you. Fringeworld was a perfect environment to show the work at an early stage, in a performance framework that is about experimentation, exploration, and testing your ideas for the first time with an audience who is also excited by the rawness and freshness of the work. The original presentation also incorporated a number of ideas, and story lines I had been working with on and off over a few years. Standing Bird 2 is a synergy and synthesis of those ideas into a single narrative and ‘voice’, co-created and performed by and for dancer Jacqui Claus.

SR. What have been some exciting developments with the next iteration of the work?
SallyR. The work has been re-structured, re-visioned and refined, with some additional new material developed and scored. The new design created by Fiona Bruce and Lauren Ross is bold and contemporary and locates the work in a different context and audience configuration. We also re-shot all the film sections exclusively with Jacqui, and these appear on a range of screens in and around The Blue Room (check out the Cultural centre screen as you make your way to the Theatre). We have also incorporated The Blue Room bar as a performance space, so yes on many levels if feels like a ‘new’ work. (My previous role as a somewhat shadowy presence in the work has also been erased – thankfully)!

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SR. What is personal about the story?
SallyR. For me all creative work is personal to a degree…This work is also inspired by many things, including what is a solo? What is a self-portrait? What is particular to this form, and this solo journey that we all experience…Reflection and  self-reflection are key concepts, as are both physical and psychological notions of re-framing, reviewing, re-membering, and re-visioning..How we move through time and space, both physically and mentally, backwards and forwards (as does the reflective gaze) …It is interesting in the process of re-visiting this work, the theme of re-construction, re-collection, re-covery and review is central. What is retained, what is rejected, what is re-formed…through the journey of performance making, as in life ,there is a constant editing, of the story.  In SB2 as this lone woman moves through landscapes (emotional territories) she recognises herself while also rejecting parts of herself, shedding skins and layers.  The idea of metamorphosis and transformation are central. In this version there is always choice (made by her-self)…and ultimately one arrives at a space where there is release and revelation. It is about the pursuit of self awareness, from an initial self consciousness…a process of moving from who am I? to a claimed space of I am…here present and before you in the immediate now..The interior is made exterior and vise versa through fragmentation, re-fraction, and re-formation..The keynote is the gestural, as motifs recur and return moving from the minutae through to the epic..a moment amplifies and echoes, is refracted and re-framed by repetition. …A solo is always about the performer, and as the dancer’s body is ultimately their own unique voice, Standing Bird 2 is also Jacqui’s. It has been created and framed by her own physicality and dance vocabulary, and so it uniquely hers, and hers alone.

SR. As a movement based performance, how have you (as the Director) worked alongside and in collaboration with Choreographer Danielle Micich?
SallyR. Danielle, Jacqui and I collaborate as a team. We each bring a different element to this creative dialogue, and there is a trust and mutual understanding that comes from having worked with each other over many years. Danielle defines herself as a movement director, and her and Jacqui have now collaborated on a range of projects, so there is an efficiency and clarity to their communication. I am there driving the sense of overarching narrative, intention and through line, and commenting, questioning and adjusting what is generated.  We all know what we want to create, and the outcome we want to achieve, and it has felt very simpatico in this process. It is exciting to be working together with Dank and Jacqui right now, as both in their own way are professionally at the top of their game, and with that there is a confidence and ease, and sense of play in the creative space that is delicious.

SR. What’s great about presenting Standing Bird 2 in The Blue Room Theatre’s season two?
SallyR. The Blue Room Theatre is a fantastic venue and hub for original new work, and it has a strong audience base and great team that support this focus. To be able to present two new dance works (SB2 + Verge) in such an intimate venue is exciting, as we believe this will give the audience a dynamic performance experience, as it is a rare opportunity to view dance in such close proximity.  To also have an almost 3 week season for 2 new contemporary dance works is almost unheard of in Perth, due to high cost of suitable venues. We believe this gives us an opportunity to develop new audiences, and the season duration gives a chance for word of mouth to build, and hopefully we can sell out!!

SR. How did you become a Director?
SallyR.  I wanted to. Practice makes perfect. I am still practicing.

SR. Why do you make work in Perth?
SallyR.  I make work in Perth as it is my home, and the home of my children. I also have some strong ongoing creative relationships here with other artists and collaborators that have developed and grown over many years. We are a dynamic and diverse creative community  and I think we are good at making our own opportunities to showcase our ideas and work. I do enjoy also working in other cities/places, and enjoy the dialogue with other artists from around the country. Living and working in such a remote city as Perth it is essential to travel and see and make work in other environments.

SR.Who do you dream of working with one day?
SallyR. That list is long.

Standing Bird 2 Showing at The Blue Room Theatre
12 – 29 November 2013
The Blue Room Theatre
53 James Street
Perth Cultural Centre
Northbridge WA 6003

Featuring: Jacqui Claus // Director + Concept: Sally Richardson // Movement Director: Danielle Micich // Assistant Director: Katya Shevtsov // Vision Design + Film Production + Editor: Ashley de Prazer // Set + Costume Design: Fiona Bruce // Sound design + Production: Joe Lui + Kingsley Reeve // Lighting Design: Joe Lui // Dramaturg: Humphrey Bower + Sally Richardson