Posted by Thom Smyth, April 25th, 2016
The team for microLandscapes have arrived in Melbourne!
Choreographer Emma Fishwick and dancers Ella (CO3) and Niharika (Chunky Move) spent last week rehearsing at the beautiful Abbotsford Convent. These guys know how to groove their way through a busy week, check out the pics below!
Don’t forget to grab a ticket to the show if you’re in Melbourne. microLandscapes is happening at the Northcote Town Hall 4-8 May. Next Wave will get your tickets sorted!
Melbourne. We’re coming for you! See you soon Niharika!
Going a little coffee crazy!!!
Home for the week.
Little bit exhausted!
Good colour palette!
Shall we dance?
Niharika is groovin’
Posted by Thom Smyth, October 6th, 2015
Formed in 2008, Company Upstairs is a Perth-based project company led by the choreographic and conceptual talent of Bianca Martin. 2014 saw Bianca admitted to the Supreme Court as a Lawyer in Western Australia. She also completed a Residency at Critical Path, Sydney, and a PICA residency on From Afar on a Hill. Since May 2015 Bianca has worked as a Lawyer in the UK. From Afar on A Hill is showing at PICA until 10 October. We caught up with Bianca Martin to chat about the show.
RA | Welcome back to Perth! What were you up to before heading back here?
BM | It’s great to be back seeing so many changes and so much work happening here. I qualified as a lawyer last year, after juggling my law studies with my arts practice, so about 5 months ago I took a job as a solicitor in London. It’s a great small firm where we are encouraged to leave at 5.30pm each day, so luckily I am able to continue making work around that.
RA | Tell us about From Afar on a Hill
BM | After a long road of development, the work has progressed into a performance work about immigration and privilege. We have three superb performers, Bernadette Lewis and Rhiannon Newton who are well known to Perth audiences, and we have added LINK dance company graduate Sarah Chaffey to the team. Our sound artist is Chris Cobilis and he is also a performer in the work.
Its quite an immersive experience for the audience, but nothing to be afraid of. We are hoping that by the audience experiencing the work physically that there is something extra to be gained, a more emotional communication that they receive. The most frightening part for me is is to engage the audience in such an emotional matter. But then we have to remember its only the theatre!
You have been working on this show for a quite some time. Has it shifted from when it waspresented in Copenhagen in 2013?
I had the privilege of working at Copenhagen’s Dansehallerne and being mentored by UK’s Rosemary Butcher as an addition to the activities I already had planned whilst on DCA’s mid-career Fellowship. Making that development was a brilliant learning curve, I worked with two Danish performers and basically let go of all the hang ups I had about having made my performance works in a conservative town. I realised I no longer had to make ‘steps’ and it was like an unbelievable lightbulb moment. The work really started there, and although no choreography has made it through from that development showing, the ideas have certainly been refined from the Dansehallerne showings.
RA | From Afar On A Hill was sparked by the awful Christmas Island boat tragedy in 2010, but the tension around asylum seekers has persisted in Australia to this day. How do you tackle a politically-charged issue like this as an artist?
BM | Well I think what has been made most clear to me through the development period, is that I can only tell my own story. The intention was never to mine for other people’s trauma, but to find a way for someone like myself, reasonably engaged with current affairs, to understand the whole issue of government policy around migration in Australia. I think those tragedies led me to question, what can art do about it, and where do I fit in to that. We have worked with a sociologist from UWA, Farida Fozdar, so the work is grounded in research, but really its about a privileged Australian society, those which come to the theatre, and as an artist that privilege is something you have to concede you are part of. We have wanted the whole time to consider that privilege, and try to access it by giving the audience a visceral experience of how it would feel to lose it.
With the recent publication of tragic images of three year old Alan Kurdi on a beach, it seems like the international conversation has changed. Do you feel that filtering through to Australia?
Things do seem to have shifted. I was in the UK at the time those images were published, and the official reaction there was much like Australia’s has been – we are an island, and so we can stop people coming here. The locals were more welcoming than that of course, but not like in Europe where there is much more of an understanding of being connected through the borders. Whether things are really changing here I’m not sure.
RA | What do you hope people take away from the show?
BM | Well I hope the show gives them an interesting interactive experience to take away. Perhaps it might give the audience an opportunity to consider where they place themselves within the subject matter. But I’m quite happy if they’ve just been engaged during the evening!
Company Upstairs’ From Afar on a Hill
6 – 10 October | PICA Performance Space
Image by Traianos Pakioufakis
Posted by Thom Smyth, March 31st, 2015
In the second instalment of our Next Wave run down, Pony Express’ Loren Kronemyer gives us her take on what went down, artistically speaking.
Loren here, one half of the duo Pony Express. Collaborator Ian Sinclair and I have recently joined forces and been welcomed into the Kickstart development program for Next Wave Festival 2016. Our project, called Ecosexual Bathhouse, is a multisensory environment that invites people to develop a sexual relationship with their ecology. We ponies have just returned from the first milestone in our development process: a 5 day intensive in Healesville, Victoria with the entire prodigious group of Kickstart artists.
These are my dispatches from the field.
Ian and I, new as collaborators but old as friends and confidants, gamely boarded the big plane from Perth to Melbourne and touched down in a characteristic haze of mist. Before long, we were winding up to Healesville in a pair of econovans, with 20 artists and a flamboyant array of luggage in tow.
Once we had deposited our belongings in our Nancy-Meyers-esque lodgings, we got down to work. It quickly became clear that this was a group of artists at the top of their games; diverse practitioners with a wealth of collective experience, yet all committed to making some bold moves with their works in development. Feeling ourselves, feeling each other, with lots to share and the space and time to do it. Through a number of discussions indoors, discussions outdoors, discussions with food, and discussions on the karaoke stage, the theme of the week emerged: Let’s Talk About Ethics, Baby.
This was reinforced by the deployment of 3 expert provocateurs, who each raised the stakes in one field of ethical arts practice.
Paola Balla threw down the first gauntlet with a moving talk given in the frigid shadow of the Maroondah dam. She spoke about personal history, diversity, appropriation, and the mandate for each of us to decolonise our art practices.
Shortly thereafter, cradled and warm back in the Kickstart homestead, we had a session with sustainability expert Matt Wicking. He confirmed the importance of sustainability for artists, and encouraged each of us to hold ourselves to the highest personal standard of sustainability throughout our projects. He also generously treated Pony Express to a heartening project consultation session, which may have devolved into something more along the lines of eco-therapy.
Thirdly was Katrine Gabb, who spoke to us about the importance of accessibility in the arts sector and the many forms that it should take. I found this especially illuminating; hearing her champion accessibility in such a firm and reasoned tone left me eager to better serve more diverse audiences through our work.
These invigorating sessions were punctuated by the necessary frivolities of artists at play. Dance parties, garden frolicks, jacuzzi storytime, taco consumption, and a visit to the Healesville captive platypus were among other highlights, all of which we mined for Ecosexual propaganda wherever possible.
When the intensive came to its end, we all left with many high hopes for our projects and friendships. Though we were sad to go, we at Pony Express had one last treat in store to ease our reintegration into the world. Thanks to a tip from our associate producer, we spent our last morning in awe of the Amorphophallus Titanum flower (https://twitter.com/RBGTitanArum), a rare evolutionary masterpiece of unequal grandeur.
In the presence of this insane, regal, and grotesque lifeform, we were reminded of all the motivations that inspired our work. The unfolding has just begun, and we still have much to learn.
To see Ecosexual Bathhouse take shape, follow Pony Express:
Read previous Next Wave dispatch by Emma Fishwick>>
Main image by Julian Frichot. Supplementary images by Ian Sinclair.
Posted by Thom Smyth, March 31st, 2015
Heading into the Victorian countryside last week, Next Wave hosted artists from the around the country as part of its Kickstart development program. Western Australia was very well-represented, with visual artists Katie West and Dan McCabe, dance maker Emma Fishwick and new performance duo Pony Express (Ian Sinclair and Loren Kronemyer) jumping on the bus to Healesville. We’ve got two dispatches from camp for you – the first from Emma Fishwick.
My first Art Camp… it happened, I was there and so were 20 other creative folk.
Next Wave Festival occurs biennially in Melbourne and in the alternate years Next Wave run Kickstart – a curated development program that assists emerging artists in the formation and production of a select work.
Two weeks ago I embarked on my Kickstart journey by spending six nights in Healesville, Victoria. Filled with excitement, nervous uncertainty and an awkward kind of speed dating between 21 artists and producers, the week began. A heterogenous collection of makers and thinkers made every day both enlightening and challenging.
We examined cultural appropriation (i.e whose holds the right to talk about what), colonisation and accessibility in the arts, eco-friendly practice and the role of the audience. It challenged my thinking and blurred my understanding of my practice and it’s role within the wider community. As such a career holds a unique and powerful platform to evoke discussion, shift perspectives and provide a voice for the voiceless, am I doing enough, am I saying enough?
At times the discussions left me feeling paralysed with an abundance of information and experiences, some of which were foreign to me. However, I realised that simply ‘being aware’ is enough to spark creative discussion, both in and out of the studio. Not being aware and not talking about the wider issues facing our nation/culture, does more harm than good.
A constant state of amnesia by Julianna Engberg was one of many readings we had to do in preparation for this intensive. Her comment on Australia’s perpetual artistic adolescence emphasised how imperative such an awareness is for young makers. Whilst I consider myself a socially, politically and historically concerned individual, my arts practice to date has been focused primarily on form, technique and process. Whilst this is still a valid and necessary conversation, I did find myself wanting yet unsure of how to incorporate these wider issues.
I concluded that whilst I wanted to, I couldn’t change the world into a more inclusive, respectful place in one hit. What I could do was to expand my awareness, be diligent in instigating these conversations beyond the studio and in turn allow it to begin to emerge as an underlying presence in my practice.
Art camp also held much frivolity from: visiting Maroondah Dam, late night Jacuzzi sessions, red wine, wood-fired pizzas and Mexican breakfasts, gallery trips, lounge room dancing, chickens, and karaoke at the Healesville local. What is evident to me upon reflection is that the future of our creative identity was in good hands; interested, invested, experimental, intelligent and diverse hands.
I’ll conclude with words from Chus Martinez who wrote in Clandestine Happiness: “Artists, like scientists, are pioneers when it comes to creating new forms of connectivity between worlds that seem to have nothing in common….an endless study of everything that contributes to different formulations of what we call reality”.
Art Camp…it happened.
Follow Emma’s Next Wave project development
Next dispatch from Pony Express’ Loren Kronemyer>>
Group shot by Rani Pramesti. All other images by Emma Fishwick.
Posted by Thom Smyth, March 26th, 2014
Subiaco Arts Centre has opened its doors for the inaugural Independent Theatre Festival, providing free venue hire for chosen works, including James Berlyn’s Crash Course (produced by Performing Lines WA), Brooke Leeder’s Dancers Speak Volumes, and Houston Sinclair’s suburban take on The Little Mermaid. Thom Smyth chatted to contemporary dancer and performer Jacinta Larcombe, the titular mermaid in this contemporary exploration of Hans Christian Andersen’s dark fairytale, about the chance to revisit the character and her recent Best Newcomer win at the Performing Arts Western Australia Awards.
TS| First of all, congratulations on the win! It’s just champagne and limos from here on in right?
JL| Let’s hope so, until I actually become a bottle of bubbles myself!
TS| Shifting from movement to more text-based work can be a real challenge. How are you finding the challenge?
JL| I think with each experience I have with text-based work I am becoming more confident. I remember when I first started devising The Little Mermaid; I was so terrified to speak. Which is kind of silly because I talk all the time. But it’s just a different thing talking with your body and thinking that I have say something interesting with my words.
TS| You’ve been pretty busy, going from shows with Steps to The Blue Room Theatre to taking the stage at the State Theatre Centre in Barking Gecko’s OneFiveZeroSeven for Perth Festival. How has that experience been for you?
JL| I feel pretty privileged to be doing so many different works, that I am all really passionate about. Being a part of OneFiveZeroSeven was one of the biggest learning experiences I’ve had, both about myself and being in a festival. The thing that stumps me is that this is my job now, and I’m constantly learning about the way that I work and how everything else does.
TS| The Little Mermaid is back. Is Grace a character that is close to your heart? Do you slip back into it easily, or is she more of a challenge?
JL| It sure is! I was really looking forward to visiting her again, because at that time I really was her. She just has this innate magical feeling about her, without even doing much. I think she stemmed from being on the brink of something, like a transition or transformation, going from girl to mermaid or weak to strong. Finding her again is both easy and difficult, because I know what she looks like and I know how she feels in her body and the way that she is but I think I’m in a different place now so I’m going to have to dig around to find all those nuances again.
TS| What’s up next for you?
JL| Well I am currently rehearsing for the next STEPS show, which is on in May; this years’ show is celebrating 25 years of STEPS. I think it’s going to be a really special experience and my last show with the company. STEPS have done a lot for me as a performer and a person so I can’t wait to go out with a bang. Then I think it will be nice to live life for a little while and see what comes my way!
Jacinta will appear in: