In Conversation with Tyrone Robinson: Love and Prime Cuts

Posted by Thom Smyth, September 12th, 2016

nik_2730This week choreographer Tyrone Robinson premieres his new solo Being in love is not a good reason for two people to stay together in PRIME CUTS, a double bill presented by Strut Dance in partnership with Performing Lines WA for the 2016 MoveMe Festival at the State Theatre Centre of WA. We had a recent chat about the inspiration behind this work and his dancing life.

FdG: Where did your dancing roots begin and who has inspired/supported/mentored you during your dancing journey?
TR: I began training in dance at the age of 10, studying dance styles such as jazz, hip hop, acrobatics & tap. I then went on to further those skills in high school and it was there that I was encouraged to join STEPS Youth Dance Company, which was my first encounter with contemporary dance. Within 3 years of dancing for STEPS I was given my first professional choreographic opportunity as an Assistant Choreographer for the 2010 STEPS show Phoenix, mentored by Alice Lee Holland.

From this came the opportunity to study at the WA Academy of Performing Arts under four greatly influential and supportive lecturers Alice Lee Holland, Claudia Alessi, Rachel Ogle and Sue Peacock. To date I am still mentored by Sue Peacock. Sue’s keen eye for detail and unique perspective make her an incredibly intelligent artist, one I was very keen to continue learning from. Sue’s support, generosity of knowledge and patient guidance has been integral to me finding my creative identity.

FdG: I assume your new work ‘Being in love is not a good reason for two people to stay together’ is about love?  What inspired you to explore this topic? Is it based on a personal experience?
TR: The work is about love, and was the natural progression of a prior work I presented at STRUT Dance 2016 Short Cuts Season called “Jimmy is funny”. This is the title of a poem written and performed by spoken word poet Sasha Banks. Her performance struck me not only on an emotional level, but a physical one. The passion and rhythm in her voice as she delivered the very personal text inspired me to move and so began the interest in the potential of using spoken word as a base for a show.

In exploring the concept, I found that the subject matter that provoked such passion in people’s poetry was either anger or love.  With a lot of anger seeming to stem from issues of race, gender and identity, I found myself connecting with the love poetry, finding similarities with my own experiences with love regardless of the poets’ race or gender. I thought as an idea for a work, that it may be something audience members from many different walks of life would be able to relate to in some form or another.

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FdG: What are the challenges of making and performing your own solo dance work? Did any of them surprise you?
TR: I suppose the biggest challenge of creating a solo work on yourself is a complete lack of objectivity. I ended up recording myself during rehearsals so I could get some idea of what it was I was creating. Unfortunately watching a live event off a recording doesn’t do it justice, and so it became apparent that I would need a collaborator with whom I could share a creative understanding about the piece. So I sought out a dramaturg.

FdG: Did you find working with theatre dramaturg Will O’Mahony changed the way you thought about, or structured, the work?
TR: I don’t know if working with Will changed the way I viewed the work, mainly because I couldn’t view the work at all really. I had structured the work blindly hoping that it would read a certain way, but was then very reliant on Will’s interpretation of the work to gauge whether I was heading in the right direction. There were definitely some observations that Will would make that hadn’t even crossed my mind when creating certain images, but I suppose a subjective response is to be expected when working in an abstract art form.

What was great about having Will in the process is that coming from a theatre background he tended to view the work in terms of a narrative structure, which for me always clarifies a lot about the work I’m creating. Being able to see a story play out would tell me that the flow of the piece was working.

FdG: After ‘MoveMe’ you’ll be dancing in Lucy Guerin’s new production ‘The Dark Chorus’.  This is the first time you’ve worked professionally with Lucy’s company.  Can you tell us about any memorable/auspicious moments so far?
TR: Well today we tried on our beautifully extravagant costumes and visited the Meat Market theatre where we will be performing. I feel like this has been the most memorable moment so far. From what I know the work is very different from anything else Lucy has created on her company. It is quite theatrical in its concept and quite absurd in the way of movement, so it was really quite incredible to see these two key elements of costumes and space come together and bring new life and clarity to the work for me. I am slowly beginning to see the grandeur of the spectacle she is creating.

FdG: If you weren’t dancing, what would you be doing?
TR: If I was not dancing I would be definitely be working in the fashion Industry. Most likely design given my interest in creating. Fashion has always been a great love on mine and I am in constant awe of the glamour the innovative creativity that comes from the world of fashion. It’s an art form that reaches everyone, so it’s capacity to influence everyday life is so tangible and fascinates me greatly.

PRIME CUTS presented by STRUT Dance in partnership with Performing Lines WA
Featuring a double bill of new work by Shona Erskine and Tyrone Robinson
Sat 17 + Sun 18 Sept | State Theatre Centre of Western Australia
Produced by Performing Lines as part of MoveMe Festival 2016

SOLD OUT | Click here for more info>>


Prime Cuts 2016: White Matter at Move Me

Posted by Thom Smyth, September 12th, 2016

This week Strut Dance presents their annual Prime Cuts double bill in partnership with Performing Lines WA during MoveMe Festival. The program features a redeveloped performance of White Matter by Perth choreographer Shona Erskine, alongside a new work, Being in love is not a good reason for two people to stay together, by Tyrone Robinson. The show captures the lived experience of people living with the complex symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS) through the eyes of two siblings and is a highly personal work exploring the most widespread disabling neurological condition affecting young adults around the world. Dancer Scott Elstermann from The Blue Room Theatre premiere season in 2015 is joined by Dominik Mall. We caught up with them for a chat.

FdG: Where did your dancing roots begin and who have inspired/supported/mentored you during your dancing journey?

SE: I began dancing when I was 7 and have a versatile background in styles such as jazz, tap and competitive ballroom dancing (DanceSport). I was fortunate to have achievements in all of these genres including Junior Australasian Jazz Champion and Youth Queensland Ballroom Champion before successfully auditioning for the Bachelor of Arts (Dance) course at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts. I refocused my training on contemporary dance and graduated as the Dux student in 2014, receiving the Palisade Award for the most outstanding graduate.

Inspiration and support comes from my amazing family and friends and the incredible artists I have been exposed to thus far. There are too many to name but I cannot thank them enough.

DM: I began dancing in high school, starting with an interest in break dancing – this pretty quickly shifted to a love of contemporary after being involved with STEPS Youth Dance Company for a number of years. I could list dozens of people who have been incredibly important in shaping the dancer I am today, but a few of my very influential mentors, teachers and choreographers have been Alice Lee Holland, Brooke Leeder and Justin Rutzou.

FdG: As a dancer what do you look for in a choreographer? 

SE: I look for a choreographer who is articulate, open and intelligent. Someone who explores concepts and themes in a way that excites, inspires, interests and challenges me.

DM: I think what I look for in a choreographer is an ever evolving thing, but at the moment one of the traits I am drawn to is a real sense of intelligence in the process of creating as well as analysing their own work in detail.
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FdG: What’s the great thing about dancing with Dominik/Scott?

SE: One of the greatest things about working with Dominik is his reliability. Dominik will always be there on cue, always at rehearsal early, always giving 100% of his attention to the task at hand.

DM: Scott is a close friend of mine so that already makes it great! He has quite a different movement style to me in the piece so navigating that is really enjoyable and means we are constantly learning from each other.

FdG: Shona Erskine’s White Matter explores a challenging subject. Did you have to research to prepare for the role? 

SE: Yes!! A lot of personal and collaborative research has been conducted in and out of the studio. Reading stories of individuals with MS, hearing personal accounts from Shona, watching YouTube videos of cells to reading poems about loved one’s experiences has all been part of the process.

My role is very observant and alert as I watch Dominik confront some of the symptoms of MS and consider ways to support his journey. Having this background research has aided in informing my decisions about how to approach Dominik and gain a better sense of the work’s theme.

DM: I wasn’t involved in the initial development of White Matter so I did miss out on a lot of the research they did in the beginning. However, in order to understand a lot of the subtleties of the work I did need to research different aspects of MS, including lots of biology to see how the body is affected on a cellular level.

FdG: This production premiered at the Blue Room Theatre in 2015. What if anything is changing about it for Prime Cuts in 2016?

SE: As an original cast member I have noticed many changes for the Prime Cuts season. The work will now be presented in a double bill and the length decreased from the original version. The space and lighting rig has changed, and welcoming Dominik as a new cast member has resulted in us having to find what the relationship is between us (how do we interact, the tempo of certain movements, the intention behind touches and glances).

DM: I wasn’t in the 2015 Blue Room Theatre season so I guess the main thing to note is that I have had to find my own journey through the piece. So in many ways how I perform will be different from the original dancers.
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FdG: If you weren’t dancing, what would you be doing?

SE: If I wasn’t dancing, I would probably be teaching.

DM: Hard to say – after high school I began studying computer science before deciding to switch to dance as a career, so the common factor for me there is that I would be doing something that is creative and involves constant problem solving. Nowadays I find it difficult to imagine doing something that isn’t physical so who knows what that would be!

Prime Cuts is presented by STRUT Dance in partnership with Performing Lines WA
Produced by Performing Lines WA

PRIME CUTS | State Theatre Centre of Western Australia
Sat 17 Sept: 6pm | Sun 18 Sept: 3:30pm
Tickets | SOLD OUT

Images by Emma Fishwick.

Filed under Dance, Shona Erskine