Calling independent dance artists!

Posted by Thom Smyth, May 15th, 2013

Performing Lines WA is calling for expressions of interest from independent artists with a dance based practice to support through the Managing and Producing Services initiative for theatre and dance artists in WA (MAPS for Artists).

Performing Lines WA provides core artists with a range of managing and producing services. For example, we may assist with fundraising for projects, manage project funds and contracts, produce new works and manage touring, undertake mentoring, support you to establish or further develop your practice, provide access to local, national and international networks or manage project marketing.

Core artist support will initially be offered to the successful artist until mid-2014, with the expectation that the relationship would continue for a further two years if the MAPS initiative is renewed in West Australia.

Any independent artist (including groups or small companies) with a dance based practice, resident for at least the last 12 months in Western Australia, is eligible to apply. Companies receiving annual program funding are eligible. Triennially funded companies are not eligible.

Interested artists are invited to submit an Expression of Interest. All details are included in the Call for EOIs which you can download here.
Shortlisted artists will be invited to interview in mid July.

5pm Monday 24 June 2013


Image: Jenni Large Pictured: Storm Helmore in ‘Reflect’ by Sue Peacock

Interview: Ben Taaffe Sound Designer for Reflect

Posted by Thom Smyth, May 7th, 2013

Ben Taaffe is known around town for co-hosting The Underground Solution program on RTRFM 92.1 and DJing, promoting and partying with the M.O.V.E Foundation for Musical Health and Well-Being. What people don’t really know is that Ben also designs soundscapes for dance. He’s currently working with choreographer Sue Peacock on Reflecta new work showing at The State Theatre Centre of WA Studio Underground until Sat 11 May. 

Interview: Sarah Rowbottam (SR) and Ben Taaffe (BT)

SR. If you were to describe your job to a stranger, what would you say?
BT. Which one!? Juggling multiple jobs / personalities at the moment. With Reflect, I have been designing soundscapes and a musical score for contemporary dance performance.

SR. How did you get into creating sound scores for dance?
BT. I’m a DJ and record collector first and foremost. It grew naturally from there. Friends would ask me to help them find songs to use in their performances or workshops.

SR. What is the difference between mixing a live set at a {MOVE} gig and mixing live music for a dance performance?
BT. Music and sound for dance performance can serve any number of functions. Sometimes it is about complementing, or even shifting, the tone and emotional atmosphere of the work. It can be used to evoke a sense of time or place. Or it can become part of the conceptual substance of a performance.

Music at a {MOVE} party is something quite different. We try to use music as a way of bringing like-minded people together, to create an atmosphere of escape, freedom and celebration where one can connect to others and oneself in a shared physical and emotional experience.

I guess the difference is not so much in the music but in the dancing.

SR. What has been your process for selecting music for Reflect?
BT. It’s been a highly collaborative and intuitive process. Sue Peacock, the choreographer, was already working with some music. I took this as a starting point and tried to build upon her selections, offering alternatives and trialing numerous songs in the studio to see how it shifted or enhanced the work. Something that changed the work or unsettled the feeling of the space was often taken up by Sue with great enthusiasm.

SR. The music in Reflect spans different generations, from Albatros by Fleetwood Mac to The Godfather (for William Basinski and Snoop Dogg) by Klimek and Husak. How do you marry different music so it flows together?
BT. Finding a common thread or a logical connection / progression through the feeling the songs evoke. Sampling pieces and building musical bridges between two contrasting songs is another way.

SR. On a philosophical level, music is one of the strongest triggers for memory. What are your thoughts surrounding the synergy between music and memory?
BT. Some people have suggested that music is as old as language itself, or older – that communicating emotions with our voice and bodies as sound was evolutionally prior to communicating any specific or practical meanings. It makes sense I guess, it is built into us. We remember emotions more powerfully than we do specific experiences or events I think. Music can certainly be a part of this process, even new music that you have not ever heard before.

SR. Do you remember the first music artist you listened to?
BT. No, but I have very strong memories of listening to Paul Simon’s Graceland Album and The Travelling Wilburys turned up very loud in the family car as my dad sang along. I must have been four or five at the time.

SR. Is there a point in the performance that sparks a distinct memory or feeling for you?
BT. No nothing distinct, but plenty of vaguely familiar feelings that allow the mind to wonder backwards.

SR. How would you describe what memory sounds like?
BT. I wouldn’t.

SR. Through your work with {MOVE}, you’ve brought over some pretty great artists. Ghostpoet, Flying Lotus and TOKiMONSTA to name few. If you could bring any music artist to Perth, who would it be?
BT. Right now, probably Sir David Rodigan…

Ben Taaffe is the Sound Designer for Reflect 3 – 11 May 2013 at the State Theatre Centre of WA Studio Underground.
Click here for tickets and info


Storm Helmore: Task, focus, reflect

Posted by Thom Smyth, May 1st, 2013

Words: Storm Helmore, Reflect performer

Over the past few weeks we have had the pleasure of working with Bill Handley as part of the lead up to performances. His focus is on focus – where do we look when we perform? Why do we choose to look there, if we chose to at all? How does our eye focus affect the performance; both our experience of it and that of the audience? And how do we, as performers, confidently take on the task of decision makers in this aspect of the work.

We begin with restriction. Our first direction from Bill is to walk through the beginning of the work, at all times keeping our eye focus low, at about 45 degrees down towards the floor. This immediately goes against our performative instinct of directing our focus outwards, towards the audience, and proves to be quite a difficult task. The mood shifts, I feel sad, sombre and more serious than usual. At the same time I am anxious at having to resist the urge to look up, open up, to the (not yet there) audience. But then, a tiny bit of comfort sneaks in; I enjoy this section of dancing more when I don’t have to look up, I realise that my focus is always down in that moment, or actually, this just feels right. Then I relax my focus, I loosen the fixed, intense gaze I just noticed I had, and begin to explore the room at 45 degrees. There is definite relief upon finishing this task though – I can look at my cast mates again, can connect with them, am able take in the whole room, not just the floor and the chairs – the sadness and seriousness that I felt during the task begin to subside. I wasn’t the only one that experienced this shift in mood. And this is nothing compared to when we revisit this idea in a few days time.

This task repeated, but in a different section of the work. I am almost crying at one stage then I get so angry my jaw hurts from clenching.  Bill asks us how it felt. I reply that I wanted to shoot somebody. Sue says slyly, that’s how you should feel by the end of that section… Now how to bottle that feeling, and the movement quality that came with it, and recapture it (perhaps not so intensely) next time? Bill seems genuinely excited that we all felt angry and/or sad during this task, and he asks us next time, to make room for the emotions that arise. Make room for them instead of resisting them. Life lessons learnt in the studio.

Here are a few more of those lessons which have taken me by surprise or have been reinforced during this process…

Filling someone else’s shoes is hard work, but making yourself comfortable in them so you can walk your walk (or in this case, dance your dance) is another thing altogether.

Take time to notice what you notice. More and more detail will be revealed to you.

Your time is precious – not only to you but also to the people in your life.

By restricting our options every now and again, a wealth of opportunities can be revealed.

Simple changes may result in huge shifts.

Sometimes what you think you are doing, is not what others perceive you to be doing.

Being surrounded by amazing people can only be good for you. Surely we absorb awesomeness from others by osmosis if we stand close enough right?!

It is hard to stay sad or angry when you are laughing.

Storm Helmore will perform in Reflect from 3 – 11 May 2013 at the State Theatre Centre of WA Studio Underground.
Click here for tickets and info

Storm grew up dancing in country Queensland before moving to Brisbane to undertake a Bachelor of Science degree. At the completion of her degree, Storm returned to dancing and was soon performing and teaching regularly in Brisbane, mainly in hip hop styles. In 2008, she successfully auditioned for a place in the Bachelor of Arts (Dance) degree at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) and made the move to Perth. Storm completed her training at WAAPA in 2011, having had the opportunity to perform in works by Dean Walsh, Matthew Morris, Sue Peacock and Xiao Xiong Zhang during the three years of training. Since graduating, Storm has worked on creative development processes for Sue Peacock, Rachel Ogle and Isabella StoneShe has performed as a dancer in West Australian Opera’s production of The Pearl Fishers, alongside French company Les Commandos Percu for the opening event of the Perth International Arts Festival 2013 and in Sam Fox’s workPersonal Political Physical Challenge at the Malthouse Theatre in Melbourne.