Thinking, making, sharing: Australian Dance Party at work

Ed: Australian Dance Party (ADP), brainchild of Alison Plevey, is Company in Residence at QL2 Dance. QL2 supports ADP with space, resources, advice and mentorship; and ADP engages with young people in our programs in mumerous ways.

The Party has been out and about, here and there, dancing up concoctions of all kinds these past few months, in what has been a huge festival season for Canberra. Though a little exhausted, both physically and creatively, I am continually motivated and energised by the opportunity to bring my ideas, thoughts and concerns to the fore through the dancing body – its honesty, playfulness and vulnerability. In this tough funding climate I am encouraged and driven to think, to make and share with our Canberra community.

Dinner Party, Sun. Down. Get. Down

First in 2017 we began with Dinner Party at the Ainslie and Gorman Arts Centre Garden Party, Sun Down Get Down. Invited as a part of the launch of their annual program dance artists Michelle Norris, Jessica Ausserlechner and myself performed in the outdoor courtyard to a packed and mixed audience with barely enough room to move. As company in Residence at AGAC and QL2 Dance we were excited to engage and contribute to this celebration of arts activity ahead for 2017. Audiences eyes were glued, curious and joyous as we stood punching fists in the air and breaking into dance that got the party started.

SHAKE IT, Art Not Apart

Our next adventure was SHAKE IT, for Art Not Apart festival, presented at the day long multi arts festival, 19 March 19. The Party created a 30-minute performance asking: What do you want to change? A personal and collective question that we should regularly ask. We referenced ideas of misogyny, barriers and borders, narcissism, environmental disruption and integrated opinions of the public.

Although a short and intense process as they often are, creating this work was with Olivia Fyfe, Michelle Norris, Eliza Sanders was a great challenge to combine issues of change in a short site specific work. Adding to the work was the skills of guest live percussion from Tess Said So, initiated by Rasa Dukus who I have been working with during The Party’s Friday CO.LAB. It was a rockin team!

We presented the work twice during the afternoon of the festival in the NFSA courtyard and had an absolute blast! With the help of music by Rueben Ingall and cocktail mixologist Charlie Salvador audiences young and old were engaged and up shaking it themselves by the end. The piece proved fun, provocative and potent and displayed the diversity of the work and context in which The Party can move and shake (pardon the pun). ANA is a wonderful platform for the development of local artists to present and connect with the broader arts community and GP.

 

Autonomous, You Are Here

Next we got a little more experimental as The Party joined the annual arts festival You Are Here, 5 April. Party artists Oliva, myself and joined by QL2 Alumni Jack Riley and Alana Stenning undertook a 5 day development experimenting with the relationships and parallel movements of the body and the car in Autonomous. Audiences ventured out to Weston Park near the lake for their own experience of car choreographies, vehicle shenanigans sitting inside and outside of their car. A drive-in performance! Following two 30 min performances, the feedback from both festival and audience acknowledged the quirky and risky nature of the work, that offers a memorable experience for all. It seemed a real addition to the festival program which proved much more adventurous and developed than the resources allowed perhaps demanded.

TWO, Dance On The Edge

As an opening to Ausdance ACT Dance Week celebrations, Belconnen Arts Centre held its annual season of short dance works by local independent dance artists, Dance on the edge. Alongside other Canberra independent dancers, The Party presented three performances of a new short work TWO collaborating with artists Holly Diggle and Olivia Fyfe. We created this work across a 4 day creative development/rehearsal process, again a compressed time period of which was particularly challenging for this work as the subject matter highly complex and varied. The piece peered into the curious, unknown, beautiful state of pregnancy motivated by Holly who is herself adventuring through this foreign land of pregnancy. Through verbatim theatre, movement and story we took but a peek into this complex time. Wow, what an incredibly beautiful, sensitive and fun little process this was. Audiences responses to the work were emotional, personal and joyous, many revelling in the humanity and storytelling nature of the work integrating text and dance.

CO.LAB

We have held 4 Friday CO.LAB sessions at QL2 Dance studio across Feb and March, with dancers, poets and musicians attending, some regularly and others when they can. The time to explore creative process and fusion of art forms has been most valuable for company networks and ongoing development of ideas/practice methods. Provocations that I offer act as a starting point for creatives experiments and dialogues, which are now really starting to form and take shape to the point where performance outcomes and trajectories for the group are arising.

The group is inspired by each others reflections and questions spruring new impetus for the next research task. Attendees include: Rasa (Tess Said So). Melinda Smith (poet), Alex, Gavin, Tim (Ample Sample) and dancers Debora Di Centa and Olivia Fyfe. As we begin the sessions again next week, I look forward to how this process evolves and where these ‘jams’ may lead.

 

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These creative projects and performances of Australian Dance Party have been made possible with support from QL2 Dance. As Company in Residence we humbly thank and acknowledge the support in enabling the time and space to play, question, research, experiment, toss, refine, discuss, debate and doing the work of the dance. This is vital to the growth of The Party its practice and performance outcomes.

Looking forward I am stategising a fundraising plan for our new work Mine! we are aiming to present later in 2017, and continuing to invest time in practice and collaboration.

If you would like to support us in our work please visit: australiandance.party/get-involved/donate/

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About Gary

Gary is General Manager at QL2 Dance, previously General Manager at the Australian Choreographic Centre which developed the approach to youth dance programs which forms the core of QL2's work. He is a recovering computer programmer and live sound engineer. He discovered social dance through contemporary dance.