Dancing with drones and jewels

Ed: Alison Plevey is a QL2 Associate Artist: deeply enmeshed with our programs for young people. She receives Curated Residency access throughout the year as part of our support for local independent dance artists.

Alongside the chaos of creating for QL2’s All the things, this past month I have engaged in some rather out of the ordinary projects, involving some quirky external players and objects.

Its not often that a dance artist, or anyone for that matter would see themselves playing and moving with a drone. I get to!

This does seem rather exciting to me because of its peculiarity and novelty but actually in its reality is quite scary and intimidating concept and experience. The project ‘Dancing with Drones‘ which eventuated out of a residency at Bundanon Trust in 2013 with video artists Josephine Starrs and Leon Cmielewski, has developed to include video projection of footage of the drone and myself in various natural (Bundanon) and industrial (Carriageworks) locations with myself and the live drone performing alongside this ‘video surveillance’ esc footage. Commissioned for Performance Space’s Liveworks season running in October to Novmber, this has been an exciting iteration of the project enabling exposure to a much broader audience.

Photo by Josephine Starrs

Photo by Josephine Starrs

I took time at the QL2 studio before performance in Sydney to rehearse the details of the performance alongside the video, a technique that I have been working with for a few years, and is incredibly tricky to be accurate. This time to work with the video in the studio was vital giving strength and confidence in the movement material and content before connecting with my collaborators for the technical rehearsal and opening show. I showed the Senior QL2 students the developing piece, and their responses were intelligent and curious, and somewhat astounded at the unusual nature of what performance can be. It was great to hear their thoughts and feedback and allowed a space for critical dialogue and exchange about art making not just technique and form.

Previous to Drones, I had been fortunate to be commissioned by Craft ACT and the NGA to create a dance response to a travelling contemporary jewellery exhibition Bodywork. This collaboration saw me engage with musician, Alex Voorhoeve and Jeweller, Simon Cottrell, an incredibly interesting process that enabled a dialogue between form, in process and product. The prime consideration here was related movement and sound to jewellery making, particularly that  of Simon’s process, tools, thoughts, materials and the impact of the jewellery on the body. this performance was really something unusual. eventuating from long conversations between artists and curator, Gwen McNamara, we discovered and developed ideas that we all connected focussing on three core concepts: Materials/instrument characteristics, creative process/questioning/impulse/not knowing and the outcome, the product and its influence or function as a lived/worn experience and expression.

More than ever I am realising my interest in pushing what I know about making and performing work, bringing my own skills and history to the table but being open to being re-inspired, shaken up and to try new approaches. I love the drive that seems to come into play when collaborators though different form/background etc, come to a common place of understanding and can follow interest through together in their way.

These particular commissions have continued to develop my collaborative relationships and create new connections and fusions across form. I thank QL2 for their support in the way of a curated residency to allow the space for me to explore and develop these new works.

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About Alison Plevey

Alison is an award-winning choreographer and dance and physical artist based in Canberra. Her practice spans youth dance and theatre, education, cross-disciplinary collaborations, festival commissions, solo research and arts industry development in regional NSW and the ACT. Alison holds a first class honours degree from WAAPA. She is a member of The Childer’s Group, an independent arts advocacy group in Canberra. Recent works include ‘Mine!’ (ACT National Science Week 2017), ‘Nervous’ at Mount Stromlo Observatory, and ‘Strings Attached’ at New Acton, ‘Dancing with Drones’ (Performance Space LiveWorks 2015), ‘Shake It’ (Art, Not Apart Festival 2017), ‘Autonomous’ (You Are Here Festival 2017), ‘Sprout’ (Art, Not Apart Festival 2016), ‘Heatwave’ (Dance on the Edge 2016), ‘Johnny Castellano is Mine’ (The Street Theatre 2014), ‘WORK IT’ (Art, Not Apart and You Are Here Festivals 2015). Alison is Co-Director of dance and physical theatre company Lingua Franca with Adam Deusien. Based in Bathurst they create visceral original performance engaging professional, emerging and community artists. Their recent work ‘unsustainable behaviour’ was presented at the Regional Arts Australian Conference, ArtLands Dubbo 2016). Alison is Leader of new Canberra company Australian Dance Party, driven by her ongoing study of dance as a universal communicative medium and a powerful practice for humanity to experience, debate and celebrate. The Party is an evolution of her work as a solo artist and inspired collaborations with diverse artists in Canberra. She aims to build the sustainability of professional dance in our political capital and legitimise the role of the arts in our contemporary context.