From choreographing Barking Gecko’s Perth Festival show Driving Into Walls to working with Kate Champion as the Associate Director for FOOD, Danielle Micich (or Dank as we all know her) is on a roll and it just keeps getting better.
In September Dank will tour her highly successful work Shiverto seven regional venues across the state. Shiver is a dance and theatre work taking an honest look at life and loss in all its unpredictable beauty. Four strangers find themselves trapped in an unknown place with no exit. Together they dance tango, search for answers and recall moments when life ran out of control. From the exuberance of young love to the grief of loss, their only hope of moving forward is to face the past. Accompanying the tour is a program of film projects, dance works and installations created by the community made possible through the new CircuitWest Pilot Touring Model. I caught up with Dank to find out all about the upcoming tour.
Shiver 2011 premiere Photo: Ashley de Prazer
Words: Tom Cramond (TC) and Danielle Micich (DM)
TC. For readers that weren’t fortunate enough to see the Perth premier of Shiver in late 2011, can you explain a little about the work and what viewers can expect from it?
DM. Shiver is about the journey of four people and their stories of loss. They each play an important part of telling the stories and all have different outcomes. Shiver was created to reflect on how we personally cope with loss and how we choose to assist others dealing with loss. In moments it is funny and other quite breath takingly too close for words.
TC. Now that the Shiver is going on tour – how do you go about adapting the work to travel across the state?
DM. The first adaptation is replacing a cast member from the original cast. This is a very difficult job. I was not looking to replace a dancer as such but to find a personality that would reflect the character and there role within the whole work. After a nation wide search I have found such performer, Billie Cook from SA.
Shiver 2011 premiere Photo: Ashley de Prazer
TC. Given that each venue you are touring to has a different stage size and technical capacity, how do you customize Shiver for each performance space? Will you have much time to rehearse in each venue?
DM. Shiver is made up primarily of duets, so the stage size I’m not worried about changing from show to show. Each venue will carry it’s own nuances and so it will be up the individual performer to gauge how to project physically and orally for this. We have a very busy schedule so we don’t have much time in each theatre but the time we spend bumping in, teching and running the work should be enough for the performers to adjust.
TC. The touring schedule sees you performing 10 shows right across WA in the space of two and a half weeks – Are you looking forward to the travel involved, or a little nervous about such a hectic schedule?
DM. We have a very experienced team and cast so I’m not too worried about a hectic schedule. I myself have done a lot of touring so I know how to pace myself. Distance just gives us time to listen to really good music on the road and share good old tour stories ourselves.
TC. So just how are you guys going to be travelling around? Can we expect some kind of Almost Famous road trip across the state?
DM. We all get put into a car and drive around together taking turns to drive and arguing about the next pit stop. No doubt with Gerard on tour it will be a blast. He is known to be the fun on any occasion. Our journey will be well documented so keep your eye on our blog and instagram feed.
Shiver 2011 rehearsal Photos: Sarah Rowbottam
TC. Once the show has gone back into rehearsals and is ready for touring (remounting), does your role as the choreographer/ director effectively stop? What role do you think you will be playing on the tour?
DM. No my role as Director is even more important as the face of the tour. I will be responsible to make sure that the performers are looked after in every venue we entre and make sure that the work is looking it’s best at every theatre we go to.
TC. With this tour you are also embarking on some amazing community activities in each of the regional centres. What have been some exciting moments so far and what effect do you think it will have on the greater tour of Shiver?
DM. It has already brought together people of varied ages that would never otherwise mix. I had asked some to bring stories and photo’s of personal loss and this in itself is a very bonding experience. I have been blowen away about the type of losses people are sharing. It also makes for really rich material as we construct some of the Pre Shiver tour events. I hope that others might follow the blog and see what each town are doing and see how distance does not impact the way we deal with loss.
Dance film made for Shiver tour which will premier in Merredin on 2 Oct 2012 at Cummins Theatre Photo: Ashley de Prazer
TC. Shiver is the result of a nearly five years of development and production, all as an independent artist. What are some of the lessons you have learnt over the run of this work? Do you have any advice for up and coming independent artists?
DM. It is unbelievable how one project can change from year to year. This happens because the as the time you have between each development continue to accumulate, so does your learning. It does have value to see a project to it’s end. Even though Shiver was completed in November 2011, I still have plans to make changes for the tour to make the work better again.
TC. Earlier this year you choreographed Barking Gecko’s show Driving Into Walls and was Associate Director for FOOD, a co-production between Force Majeure and Belvoir Street Theatre in Sydney. Have these theatre works influenced how you are approaching the remounting of Shiver?
DM. The actual work itself has not, because we were working towards a specific outcome for both shows. Working with the two directors John Sheedy and Kate Champion has. Watching the way they work and talking about the process and being part of how they structure a work made me rethink what I would like to achieve for Shiver.
Driving Into Walls 2012 Barking Gecko Theatre Company Photo: Jon Green
TC. After the tour (and I imagine a little bit of rest) what’s next for Danielle Micich?
DM. I’m forming a new partnership and starting a new creative development with two amazing musicians here in Perth, Gillian Catlow and Charles Hoernemann, assisted by an Australia Council for the Arts grant. And then some professional development time for myself, up-skilling and trying out methods and ideas with writer Suzie Miller and director Kate Champion.
For more information on the tour, or to find images videos of the production please click here
Danielle Micich Danielle is an independent choreographer, director and performer. She performed with Buzz Dance Theatre for five years, toured internationally with SQUINT and was a recipient of an Australia Council Young and Emerging grant. Danielle was the Artistic Director of STEPS for four years and choreographed the Curriculum Council TEE Set Solo. In 2011 she performed in WISH with Humphrey Bower (Nominated for Outstanding Female Performer 2011), choreographed Plan B for Buzz Dance Theatre and Into The Shimmer Heat for Nova Ensemble. Recently, she choreographed Barking Gecko’s Driving Into Walls and was the Associate Director for FOOD (2012) a co-production between Force Majeure and Belvoir Street Theatre.
Community members from Merredin were the first to contribute their lost notices to a state-wide collection of stories of loss. This project created in partnership with Ausdance WA is part of the community engagement program for the upcoming tour of Shiver. From losing pets to precious objects to opportunities and friendships, experiencing loss is an essential part of being human and sharing our stories can help connect us with each other.
Over 100 unique and locally made ‘Lost Notices’ will displayed around Merredin and community members are encouraged to find and photograph the posters and send them online through Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #shivertour
For more of the Lost Notices you can see the full gallery on our Facebook site.
Last weekend Danielle Micich, Ashley de Prazer and Annette Carmichael spent three days with 12 volunteers from the Merredin community, making a film about personal loss for the upcoming Shiver tour
Danielle shares some quick thoughts about the project….”The one thing we asked each person was to give everything we do a go. For some there was a lot they had never done before. We laughed, moved, ate delicious oranges and found a common thread that we put onto film. A wonderful collective! I look forward to putting it all together and sharing it with the rest of Merredin.”
The film will premier in Merredin as a curtain raiser for Shiver on 2 October at Cummins Theatre.
Check out some behind the scene photos on Cummin Theatre’s facebook page!
Pictured: Ellen and cast on Cairn Rock
Pictured: Ghosts. Images made from the sand.
Pictured: South Merredin Primary school sand pit. Cast performing their collapse movements.
Pictured: South Merredin Primary school corridor. One of the two primary schools recently closed down.
Pictured: Cairn Rock. Searching sequence.
Photos courtesy of Ashley de Prazer
Photos courtesy of Ursula Andinac, Cummins Theatre
To kick start the 2012 Shiver Tour, Annette Carmichael from Ausdance WA has been busily creating a community engagement/ audience development strategy which involves working with local artists in towns throughout regional WA.
Last week 15 young dancers from Esperance were the first to work with Shiver director Danielle Micich, on the creation of a short performance that explores personal stories of loss. These photos picture each young dancer walking up to a camera and stating the name and age of a person or pet they had lost.
The final performance will premiere at the Esperance Civic Centre as a curtain-raiser to Danielle’s dance theatre show Shiver on Friday 5 October, 7.30pm, tickets www.esperanceciviccentre.com
The ultra charming Kingsley (Kings) Reeve brings an impressive track record of awards and sound design compositions to Shiver. Before taking out the WA Equity Guild Awards, Ausdance Awards and WA Screen Awards he was nominated for a Helpmann for Best Theatre Sound Design on Black Swan’s Zastrozzi, the Master of Discipline. Kings has collaborated with Danielle Mcich on Shiver since its humble beginnings in 2007. Between making new music for the highly anticipated premiere this Thursday 17 at The Dolphin Theatre, Kingsley took a moment to share what’s been happening in the rehearsal room as the team prepare for Production week.
Words: Kingsley Reeve (Sound Designer) Photos: Sarah Rowbottam
Pictured: Kingsley Reeve
Week three began on a Monday the way all good rehearsals should begin. the things we knew we were certain of and the things we didn’t know remained utterly uncertain. We had a big goal ahead of us – to get to the final bell by the end of the week without being pile-driven by a wrestler much heavier and sweatier than we were. So we took each day as it came. We bashed our heads together and asked each other the seemingly hard questions: “is this working?”, “does this bit suck?” and importantly, “are we making sense?”
Being brutally blunt and forthrightly honest was what we had to be to push the show into a new gear. And blunt we were. New things were added, some things had to go and we reconsidered things that we might have loved previously but had to give way for a tighter, leaner performance. We reworked one section in particular that had been evading us and the solution came via random express. I can’t give it away but let’s just say that my offer to string a piñata up didn’t meet with instant refusal…
Pictured: Gerard van Dyck, Leanne Mason and Jacqui Claus
As the week progressed we started to stretch our sea-legs and we ran what we had from whoa to go. To our relief, things were making sense and the road-blocks now seemed more like roundabouts or at worst, small speed humps in a 40 zone.
Each day was met with new understanding of the material, both on the interior and from the all-important audience perspective. We were consolidating each time we ran it and by Saturday, we were starting to feel its groove.
For myself, I enjoyed the daunting task of transferring quantities of semi-coherent sound improvisations into the final tracks to be played in the master sequence. So no mini-golf for me this weekend, I stayed strapped to my headphones until I had a something worth putting through the PA.
This week begins the final frontier; horses shod, stops pulled out and top-lip waxed… it’s game on and we have our first audience on Thursday. No pressure. None whatsoever…
PLWA. Tell me a little bit about yourself. Kings. I am a sound nerd, self-confessed. I basically can’t help it. Somewhere in my DNA is a molecular love affair with moving air and it does something to me, I can’t really articulate it elegantly but it’s a big part of who I am.
I’m a lover of silence too. Nothing is as beautiful and painfully terrifying as the absence of sound, so I look for it actively in our world and rejoice in it’s scarcity.
I love the idea of music and again, I have no words for it’s complexity. I don’t know why a note can mean so much, it’s frankly beyond me but I’m happy to bask in it’s supreme influence over me.
PLWA. What is your role in Shiver? Kings. Shiver and I have a long-standing relationship. Lately of the long-distance kind, but still connected. I began this process with Dank back in 2007 when it was called something else and inhabited a completely different space structurally and conceptually. The piece has evolved from humble beginnings, grew to a bloated excess of big ideas and techniques and now occupies a position poles apart from it’s original instigation. It’s a lean, hungry animal now and my job as always is to tell the story, either in the front of the frame or in the blurry bits off to the back and sides through sound. My task has the ironic impression of playing some (hopefully agreeable) music under the movement and text. If only it were that easy and the sound was only answerable to my own desires. No. The sound, music or otherwise, has as much dramaturgical responsibility as the choreography, the text, the set, the lights, in fact, everything… So when charged with this duty I have to come up with a palette of sounds that are not only ‘appropriate’ but have something to say in our story. The task then is to add a bunch of these until it makes sense and gives the clearest meaning. This often means eventually stripping away so many of these sounds until you can honestly know that what is left is necessary and purposeful. If I can’t justify it in the action, it gets cut. Treating silence as a sonic tool is also a big part of the job, knowing when to shut up and earn the next cue.
It’s an ongoing negotiation and adherence to a strict ‘less is more’ mantra. Hopefully we get it right and the quiet bits are quiet and the loud bits are loud…
PLWA. What has been the most exciting day in the rehearsal room thus far? Kings. That would have to be Monday to Friday this week, not a single day but a collection of five that had great upwards momentum the more we worked. It’s thoroughly satisfying when things take their proper shape and you start to land these ideas and concepts that may have been eluding you. A lot of that happened this week. We solved, cleaned and trimmed and from that came the smiling face of coherence.
Kingsley Reeve graduated from WAAPA in 1995 with a Diploma in Sound and from the Theatre course in 1998 as an actor. Now based in Sydney he works regularly with Sydney Theatre Company (STC) and teaches Sound Design at NIDA. In Perth he has designed sound and music for Black Swan (2002 – 2008) and for Perth Theatre Company since 2003. In 2005 he was nominated for a Helpmann Award for Best Theatre Sound Design on Black Swan’s Zastrozzi, the Master of Discipline. Recent designs include Barking Gecko’s The Red Tree, STC’s Ruby Moon, Deckchair’s The Modern International Dead and Yirra Yaakin’s Waltzing the Wilarra. He has designed sound and music for Danielle Micich since 2006.
Performing Lines WA delivers the Managing and Producing Services for theatre and dance artists in WA (Maps for Artists), which is a joint initiative of the Australia Council for the Arts, the Australian Government’s art funding and advisory body, and the State of Western Australia through the Department of Culture and the Arts.