The Launceston Transplant

A friend of mine informed me recently that I have the life of Riley. Today I am inclined to agree with him. For I am in Tasmania, in residence, in Launceston, at Tasdance.

I was meant to be here on the pretext of choreographing on the virtuosic body of Liz Lea for an autobiographical solo of sorts. I (still) have designs on creating that work of magic realism. This will happen eventually. Just not right now because Liz is inevitably reclining on a couch somewhere other than here, with her foot elevated, because she broke it. Broke something in it enough that she is there and I am here.

Launceston is quite a bit colder than Sydney. Not as cold as the bitter mornings in Canberra, as I was informed by a regular walker of the locally convenient natural attraction that is Cataract Gorge. It takes this man 38 minutes to walk his regular loop. He informs me he is a transplant from Western Australia. I tell him that I am here courtesy of another recent transplant, Felicity Bott, current Artistic Director of Tasdance.

I tell him one of my goals is to be in close proximity of the dizzying heights the Gorge so conveniently provides. It is the proximity to the threat of imminent danger I want to capture for an upcoming radio play I am in the process of devising. I don’t go into detail about the subsequent process of embodiment which involves my spending hours in the studio faffing about, using my fear and the memory of its prescience to create and video little going nowhere phrases.  This culminates in a final review of the hapless movement meanderings in order to create a modest amount of text.

No, this man doesn’t want to hear that.

This has been a terrific residency because although I have come in with no specific agenda, I have quite a few impending projects to address.

For the first few days I went into panic overdrive composing lists with ridiculous deadlines. The thing with lists, they can stymie creativity as much as they can aid in prioritising.

So half way through this residency I threw the agenda out the window and embraced uncertainty. The uncertainty of direction. I just waited for an impulse to strike and scratched that curious itch to see where it would lead me.

It led to late luxuriant mornings writing reflections (and my last lengthy Masters report) from the cosy bedroom of the apartment, situated adjacent to the studio, connected to a recently restored courtyard garden. (Glenn, said restorer, has been realising the original design which is enchanted in appearance and makes me feel like I’m a character in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Glenn also met me at the airport and gave me a rundown on the organisation which is supported by a loyal group of friends, a vital ingredient in every arts organisation.)

Seems I have been so preoccupied with the rigour of writing for academia that I have lost the skill to summon whimsy, to free associate, and so my mornings have been spent speaking to a master of playful banter. What some may label as procrastination I regard highly, this teasing of my repartee reflex, my ability to parry persiflage.

As a dancer it’s really difficult not to deride one’s self for not getting straight to the business of being busy, a busy body. The only other time I set myself such a staggeringly slow pace accompanied by ambiguous ambition, with no specific objective other than a vague assuredness that I would fill at last one expectation, was on a residency at the Cité des Arts in Paris. In Paris it was the art galleries and the awareness of my relatively gauche tastes, in comparison or in juxtaposition to the French epicurean aesthetic and my working class origins, which provided a fertile foundation for creativity and which led to the creation of a work titled Les Festivities Lubrifier for Performance Space’ Liveworks program.

Here it is my age and fallibility against a backdrop of enduring natural wonder. By placing myself at the mercy of the grandiosity of the environment I am so very alive because if I choose to, I could step close to the edge of death. It is at the knife’s edge of mortality that I am dwelling.

See you back in the streets on the safe side.

P.S. I get another stab at the choreography in Tassie in November. Counting down. If you have a dance idea and want a great location to grow it, seriously consider Tasdance.

– by Vicki Van Hout