2012 Year in Review – Martin del Amo

It’s that time of year – the end of the year is fast approaching. Time for a review and some previews. Well, it’s certainly been a busy year for dance!! Here are some of my favourites. And yes, I’m focussing on the locals:

Force Majeure’s Never Did Me Any Harm. This intelligent and entertaining dance theatre work, exploring the complexities of modern-day parenting, premiered at the Sydney Festival and was subsequently presented at the Adelaide and Brisbane Festivals.  The piece continues director Kate Champion’s interest in working with both dancers and actors. Teaming up with longtime collaborators Geoff Cobham (set & lighting design) and Roz Hervey (associate director), Champion is at her most assured here, in terms of directing, demonstrating that the team has perfected a distinct theatrical language which they have been developing since the company’s foundation in 2002.

Anton’s Supermodern – Dance of Distraction. Presented by FORM at the Lennox Theatre, Parramatta Riverside in March, this work marked Anton’s debut as an independent choreographer of full-length dance works. Pairing up the brilliant Kristina Chan and Timothy Ohl with talented young guns Robbie Curtis and Sophia Ndaba, Supermodern Dance of Distraction is a fast-paced, highly original, often funny exploration of the franticness of contemporary city life. Very enjoyable. Let’s hope this work will get the chance to tour. More people should see it.

Matthew Day’s Intermission. I’m not sure if I should include this work here, as I worked on it as dramaturg. As I wasn’t the creator of the work though, maybe it’s okay? Intermission was the third and final instalment in Matthew’s acclaimed solo series TRILOGY, exploring the body as a site of continual becoming and infinite potential. If you like your dance concept-driven and rigorously executed, you can’t really go past Matthew. For those who didn’t get to see the piece at PACT in July, there will be the chance to catch it at Melbourne’s Dance Massive in March next year.

Jane McKernan’s Opening and Closing Ceremony. This piece is living proof that Jane, until now best known for her work with The Fondue Set, is developing into a powerful solo artist as well as a master in fusing dance with storytelling. Mixing family history with humorous and insightful musings about mass sport events, the work was presented by Performance Space at the Arlington Oval in Dulwich Hill. Seeing Jane dancing as a lone figure in the enormous oval, under floodlights, was a truly memorable and moving experience.

Julie-Anne Long’s Something In the Way She Moves. Her first full-length solo in ten years, this piece concludes Julie-Anne’s Invisibility Project, exploring notions of invisibility relating to middle-aged women. True to its byline “everyday dances for an invisible woman”, the piece consists of a series of dances alternating with versions of domestic task-based actions such as hanging out the washing, washing up and bringing in the shopping. Stand outs are the hilarious buttering bread routine to Whitney Houston’s I’m Every Woman and the achingly beautiful final dance to Cindy Lauper’s True Colours. All in all, a poignant dance work, magnificently performed.

As for next year, it’s almost too early to say what 2013 will hold. A lot of presenters are going to announce their program either later this month (Carriageworks) or in early January (FORM). What has been announced, however, are the programs of the festivals in the first quarter of the year.

The selection of dance at the 2013 Sydney Festival is small but impressive. I especially look forward to Raimund Hoghe’s Sacre – The Rite of Spring and Branch Nebula’s Concrete and Bone Sessions.

Hoghe is a German writer turned choreographer who also worked as dramaturg for Pina Bausch for many years. He is sometimes referred to as “the godfather of conceptual dance”, having been a major influence on important European dance makers such as Jerome Bel, Jonathan Burrows and Xavier LeRoy. His work is not everyone’s cup of tea, partly because it is extremely slow-moving but I personally have always felt inspired by him. I saw a show of his at the 2003 Melbourne festival – still one of the most memorable theatre experiences I had.

Branch Nebula’s work is set at a skate park in Dulwich Hill and brings together skaters, BMX riders, parkourists, breakers and dancers in what is called “a confrontation between bodies and wheels” in the program. If Branch Nebula’s previous works such as Paradise City and Sweat are anything to go by, this is a must-see.

Speaking of festivals, the 2013 Dance Massive program has just been announced. It looks promising, featuring works by dance favourites such as Lucy Guerin Inc and Chunky Move alongside pieces by exciting newcomers such as Atlanta Eke, Natalie Abbot and Tim Darbyshire. Unfortunately the program is extremely Melbourne-centric, not exactly living up to its claim to be a “national dance platform”.  The only non-Melbourne works are by Adelaide’s Larissa McGowan and Broome’s Dalisa Pigram. Still, very worth checking out.

Okay, time to sign off. This is my last blog as FORM’s resident blogger. Vicki Van Hout will take over from me in January. I much enjoyed writing the monthly blogs and am looking forward to reading hers in the future.

All the very best to you all. Thank you.

Martin del Amo


Image: SuperModern Dance of Distraction, Performers: Kristina Chan and Timothy Ohl.  Photographer: Tim Thatcher