Posted by Thom Smyth, July 22nd, 2014
World-renowned Australian choreographer Antony Hamilton’s work defies easy description. His company Antony Hamilton Projects brings together artists from across art forms, creating dance work that seamlessly integrates technology, visual arts and innovative design. He is currently on the road with Keep Everything, a work commissioned by Chunky Move tracing the path of human evolution from ape to robot and back again. It’s a collection of elements of previous works, creating meaning out of seemingly disparate elements. Performing Lines WA’s Thom Smyth (TS) got the lowdown from Antony (AH) ahead of their performance season at PICA from 23 – 26 July.
TS: How do you describe the kind of work you create?
AH: That’s hard to say, as the work tends to describe itself in ways that language cannot manage. Meaning lies in things that can sometimes not be spoken or written, however if one were pressed, I would say that the work I create is an ongoing stream of ideas, where the last work, and events in between that work and the next, inform a kind of chaotic progression of curiosities.
TS: Keep Everything has been described as a “scrapbook for the stage”. What can we expect when the lights go down at PICA?
AH: One can expect the unexpected I would say.
TS: How did you go about putting the show together? Did you find any broader themes or ideas emerging from piecing together fragments of other works?
AH: Yes, well despite my best intentions, a very humanist sort of organisation of the ideas started to happen. I found myself trying to make sense out of, and create meaning from items that by their very nature are in fact fairly meaningless. So the process started to reveal to me my own very human fixation on creating order out of chaos.
TS: How do you edit and tighten a show that seeks to ‘keep everything’?
AH: In the very same way that we edit and tighten our lives. In real life we are living in a kind of devised, fictional narrative of belief, and the same is neccessary for any creative work- you have to devise a fictional narrative that has an instinctive truth of some sort about it. Keep Everything is not in fact as fragmented as it sounds, but in a way has smoothly blended many ideas into an arc that explores meta-narratives of progress, history, myth and the utopia/dystopia dichotomy. Rehearsals are much like any other, being led by a kind of instinct towards a resolve.
TS: You worked closely with Kim Moyes and Julian Hamilton on the soundtrack. What are they like to work with? Is contemporary dance a particular interest of theirs, or was this a one-off collaboration?
AH: Well Julian’s my brother, so that places him pretty close to the dance world, having grown up together, him picking me up after ballet classes and all! Also, together Julian and Kim make dance music anyway, so it wasn’t such a difficult transfer to make. That being said, the music for the work is quite a different territory for them. Fairly atmospheric and less beat driven for the most part. It was a really great collaboration. Quite easy really because we know each other so well, and understand each other’s influences, interests and so on.
TS: You were over here in Perth recently leading workshops for Strut Dance. How do local WA dancers compare to other dancers you work with?
AH: Yes, I was. The dancers themselves were great to work with. With my current interests, it’s not really about how good you are at something, even dancing! I’m not as interested in virtuosity as I used to be, but more interested in the performers true colours, in quite exposed situations. While the dancers were all great, I was more interested in exploring flaws and failures, and what it might mean to situate those in a performance context.
TS: Ideas of evolution feature strongly (and quite literally) in Keep Everything, and also in your work more broadly. Do you ever want to sit in a certain style and really hone that, or do you see your choreographic practice as more of an inquisitive and evolving thing?
AH: Yeah, I find themes repeating across my works, and I do like to try and explore something quite different every time. So in a way it’s often quite a surprise to reflect back on works and notice the strong similarities. The thing I think is most useful to develop in new directions, is to think more about the differences you can make to the audience situation. Otherwise, if you always work in the convention of the black box theatre with a show that has a set duration, you’ve already restricted yourself to a great limitation. Basically, a beginning, middle and end as defined by you. So open ended audience engagement is something that interests me for the future. So yes, evolving through inquisitiveness is right.
TS: What’s your next big project? What are you looking forward to?
AH: My next big project is touring my work Black Project 1 to Taipei Arts Festival in August, and I’m very much looking forward to it!
Mobile States and PICA present Chunky Move’s Keep Everything
23 – 26 July | 7:30pm | PICA Performance Space
Join Antony and Strut Dance’s Paul Selwyn Norton for a post-show Q&A Fri 25 July
Click here for tickets
Toured nationally by Performing Lines
Filed under Performing Lines WA News