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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>>


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Say hey to Little Shout!

Posted by Thom Smyth, November 13th, 2015

Throughout my time at Performing Lines WA, and in my previous role at The Blue Room, I’d constantly field requests for publicists in WA. Who’s around? Are they good? Are they available? Can’t you just do it?

The WA market is small, and it’s a huge jump to go from finding a freelance publicist willing to go on co-op to taking on a full fee PR company for bigger projects.

With our funding recently secured until 2017, Performing Lines WA was able to have a good hard look at just how we can best serve artists in WA to get exciting new work up and around the state, the country and the world.

While we have big plans for our core business going forward, we also came up with a great idea for a way to provide support for artists whose work we aren’t producing.

Say hello to Little Shout – a small marketing company designed to get the word out about your big ideas.

Opening its doors just last week, Little Shout is me (Thom Smyth – hai!) and Rachel Audino, an emerging arts marketer we’ve been mentoring for the last few months. An initiative of Performing Lines WA, we’re able to provide marketing and publicity services at a subsidised rate for independent artists and small-to-medium companies.

We’ll work with you to determine what you need in your campaign, and help you nail it. Our preference is more challenging work, as that is the area we generally work in, but come at us with projects and we’ll try and help out.

We’re trialling this model to see how it all goes, and we can’t wait to hear what you’ve got coming up that we might be able to help with.

You can get in contact at heythere@littleshout.com.au | Check out our website here>>
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Performing Lines WA secures new funding agreement

Posted by Thom Smyth, October 29th, 2015

Thanks to recently announced theatre sector funding through the Department of Culture and the Arts, Performing Lines WA will continue to provide creative producing services and support for Western Australian contemporary artists until mid-2017.

Having delivered the Managing and Producing Services initiative in Western Australia for the last seven years, Performing Lines WA is excited to be transitioning to a project-based producing model that engages with artists working across theatre, dance and contemporary performance. For more information on our Artistic Policy, click here>>

This announcement of $180,000 a year for two years allows Performing Lines WA to continue producing transformative Western Australian arts experiences, and advocating for artists, presenters and the sector more broadly on a national basis.

As part of this new model, we will introduce a high-quality, cost effective marketing and publicity service for independent artists and small-to-medium companies to help them market their work and connect with audiences.

We will also work towards securing additional funding to implement a broad ranging producer development program to assist independent producers to take the next step in their careers and provide further pathways for artists to get their work produced and seen.

The support Performing Lines WA offers to independent artists is part of a broader scheme funded by the Department of Culture and the Arts that includes The Blue Room Theatre’s new LOFT program of funding, and the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts’ exciting new performance programming model.

We would like to acknowledge the hard work and commitment of the staff and boards of both of those organisations, and look forward to working closely with them to realise these exciting new opportunities for Western Australian theatre artists.


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Interview | Andrea Gibbs | Barefaced Stories

Posted by Thom Smyth, October 15th, 2015

Barefaced Stories is on the road with The Skeletal System’s Great White tour collecting stories and running community engagement workshops along the way. Performing Lines WA’s Rachel Audino caught up with Andrea Gibbs to chat about the tour.

RA | Can you tell us about the show and how it began?
AG | Barefaced started five years ago. After I arrived back from NYC where I studied storytelling there wasn’t really a space in Perth to practice this format. The only thing close was stand up nights, but there just wasn’t the scope to be so truthful in those environments and also take the audience into a sad space if needed. So myself, along with best mate, Kerry O’Sullivan set-up Barefaced Stories and after our first season at The Blue Room Theatre the owners of The Bird offered us a regular space and we’ve been there ever since. We’ve performed in NSW, NZ, Melbourne & Tasmania and are doing more workshops now then ever.

RA | Everyone has an interesting story, how do you get it out of them?
AG | Ask questions and listen to the answers. It’s pretty simple really. The trick is to ask the right questions. Quite often we think we don’t have any stories, but then when we give ourselves the time to reflect we discover a whole lot about ourselves – stuff we thought we’d forgotten.

RA | What’s the most interesting story you’ve heard so far?
AG | Wow – tough question. I think everyone has a GREAT story in them. I do really like stories about people taking a risk and also storytellers that are brave enough to tell a story about a time they didn’t come across in a great light. It’s a challenge to talk about something bad you did and also keep the audience on your side. I love that dynamic and it’s also very human.

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RA | What do you have planned for the tour and how does it tie into Great White?
AG | I LOVE heading out to regional WA – some of the best stories I’ve heard have come from Albany and Margaret River. I will be working with groups of people in each area to pull some stories out of them. I use a combination of written and physical activites. The story themes we will be drawing on will be taken out of Great White – stories of Growing Up and Moments of Terror. Plenty of story fodder there – I think my moment of terror was the idea of growing up!

RA | What can’t you live without on tour?
AG | I can’t live without laughs. That is why I make sure my workshops are killer fun!

Image by Simon Pynt


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SDS1 Community Engagement

Posted by Thom Smyth, September 8th, 2015


SDS1 – Ahilan Ratnamohan

We caught up with Ahilan Ratnamohan while he was in Perth last month working with Warnbro Community High School as part of PICA’s Spark_Lab program. His show SDS1, toured by Performing Lines for Mobile States, opens this month at PICA so we thought we would do a little catch up!

Quick introduction. Ahil has spent the last six years developing a unique style of sport-in-performance drawing from his experience as a semi-professional football player. He blurs the lines between football and dance, working with footballers to create live shows performed in an arts venue.

While on tour in Australia, Ahil has been facilitating a series of community engagement workshops encouraging footballers/sportspeople, performers and non-performers to get moving!  Ahil uses football as language and helps kids improve their communication skills and ball techniques whilst creating individual and group choreography. He tailors these workshops to specifically respond to the group he is working with and in relation to their community background.

The North Melbourne Football Club’s community engagement arm The Huddle invited Ahil to spend some time teaching new migrant and refugee kids some new tricks. Check out the snapshots below!

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On his recent trip to PICA’s Spark_Lab partner school Warnbro Community High School, Ahil ran workshops with years 9 – 12 as part of an initiative to engage with the local community. In this interactive workshop, he challenged students to explore definitions of football and dance to create individual and group performances. Check out the photos below!

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Following on from his initial engagements with Warnbro, Ahil will be running workshops with a selection of Warnbro students in late September. Ahil will help them work on extending and developing their movement/dance knowledge and skills. They will also get to see Ahil perform SDS1 at Mandurah Performing Arts Centre.

SDS1 is driven by intense movement with a focus on exploring football as an art form and the intense physicality of the game.

“In creating SDS1 I set out to challenge myself and the football-dance-theatre I had been creating.  My first two shows The Football Diaries and Michael Essien I want to play as you… had relied on text to drive the pieces, I wanted to make a piece which was driven by the movement. While I had already been working with common football movements, I wanted to push these further into an abstract terrain, re-contextualizing them as contemporary dance.  I hope that by using this movement vocabulary the piece will access a new audience, to whom these movements are familiar, even if the theatre is not. “

Ahil spent time at Carriageworks in Redfern redeveloping the show with acclaimed performance makers Branch Nebula ahead of the national tour. The show is fast-paced, stripped back and we can’t wait to see it!

WA tour dates:

Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts, Perth | Tickets/info>>
23 – 26 September 2015

Mandurah Performing Arts Centre, Mandurah | Tickets/info>>
29 September – 1 October 2015