Artists clockwise from left: Pola Fanous, Vicki Van Hout and Raghav Handa
FORMIDABLES EPISODE 5
EPISODE 5: VICKI VAN HOUT and RAGHAV HANDA
Thursday, 6 May 2021
Two of the most treasured voices of Australian independent contemporary dance disclose with courage and humour the story behind their relationship and common belief in the artist’s responsibility to ask the hard questions. Their provocative and generous conversation makes compulsory listening for anyone interrogating the current cultural parameters, indigenous and non-indigenous, framing contemporary art making in a multicultural society. Vicki Van Hout and Raghav Handa open doors to genuine dialogue and remind us that dance is a language for all.
VICKI VAN HOUT
Running Time: 39 Minutes
Pola Fanous is a young poet and performing artist from Western Sydney. An Egyptian-born immigrant, at age 21 Pola is a prominent figure in Sydney’s slam scene. In 2016, Pola competed in the Poetry Olympics and spoke at the City of Sydney’s Youth Leadership Conference. In 2017, Pola was published in ‘The Resurrection’ Anthology and performed at the Digital Writers’ Festival, The Plot Music Festival, and the Parliament House of Australia. His poem ‘Mr War (Palestine)’ incorporated into Warren Armstrong and Susannah Williams’ multi-sensory artwork ‘Listening Device VII: Felt Histories’, was awarded the 2017 Paramor Prize for Art & Innovation. In 2018, Pola began writing for Honi Soit, performed at the Sydney Writer’s Festival and made waves with his now-iconic ‘Westies’. Pola was the 2018 NSW Slam Champion in the Australian Poetry Slam National Final at the Sydney Opera House. In early 2019 he released his debut collection of poetry, STRONGSOFT. He was the Speaker in FORM Dance Projects’ 2020 Sydney Festival creation ENCOUNTER directed by Emma Saunders.
Raghav Handa is an Australian choreographer and performer of Indian heritage, Raghav has worked with Sydney Dance Company, Force Majeure, Contemporary Asian Australian Performance, as well as First Nations choreographers Vicki Van Hout and Marilyn Miller. Inspired by his birthright – his works combine traditional kathak principles and contemporary movement to create multifaceted and engaging explorations of modern Australian cultural identity. He has worked in a variety of dance roles including choreographer, performer, collaborator, dance lecturer, artist representative and mentor for young performers. His works: TUKRE’ (“Pieces” in Hindi 2014-15, presented by FORM Dance Projects in 2015), MENS REA (2016) and FOLLY & TIME (2018-19) have been performed across Australia and internationally to strong critical acclaim. In 2019, with support from Australia Council, Raghav completed a residency with Attakkalari dance company in Bengaluru, India and appeared in Melbourne’s Dance Massive season of YOU ANIMAL YOU by Force Majeure. In 2020, his work CULT OF THE TITANS was performed by Sydney Dance Company as part their New Breed platform and his work DAWN featured in the Sydney Opera House digital season of Unwrapped. He appeared in the Sydney Festival 2020 premiere of DOUBLE DELICIOUS, an immersive theatre work by the Contemporary Asian Australian Performance and Asia TOPA festival in Melbourne. His creations are woven through collaboration, incorporating diverse dance languages, spoken word, film and sculptural set design represent the Indian artistic and spiritual tradition and the multicultural face of Australia around the world. His latest work TWO was premiered by FORM Dance Projects, produced by Performing Lines in February 2021 at Riverside Theatres.
Vicki Van Hout
Vicki Van Hout is an Indigenous independent artist with Wiradjuri, Dutch, Scottish, and Afghan heritage, and over 20 years’ experience as a director, choreographer, performer, dramaturg and mentor.
A graduate of NAISDA Dance College and the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance in New York, she went on to perform with major Indigenous dance companies, Bangarra Dance Theatre and the Aboriginal Islander Dance Theatre, before joining forces with Marilyn Miller as a founding member of Fresh Dancers. With Marilyn, Vicki performed Dear Carrie for One Extra Dance and Quinkin for the Adelaide Fringe Festival. Her show Briwyant was the first ever show by an independent Indigenous choreographer to tour nationally and was nominated for an Australian Dance Award for Best Achievement in Independent Dance. Vicki was awarded the 2014 NSW Dance Fellowship for established and mid-career artists – the first Indigenous winner of the Fellowship. She has also completed various residencies in Australia and overseas, including in Austria and Singapore.
FORM Dance Projects has commissioned Vicki as Blogger in Residence since 2013, and during this time Vicki has been a voice for valuable critical discourse within the dance community and arts world, around traditional and contemporary dance in Australia. FORM Dance Projects premiered Vicki’s award winning solo plenty serious Talk Talk in Dance Bites 2018. Vicki Van Hout was the recipient of The Australia Council Dance Award in 2019, which recognised Vicki’s outstanding and sustainable contribution to Australian dance and the impact on Australia’s cultural narrative through “her commitment to charting new territories through her work, challenging existing stories and prompting contemporary conversations.”