March Dance – one hell of a splash!

March Dance made one hell of a splash on our dance calendars and it seemed like every other mover was featured. In fact, this was one mean feat featuring over 102 events, 122 artists and 15 dance organisations. The majority belonging to the independent dance sector. Sadly, I was only able to top and tail the whole event but I did make the wrap up part. This followed a promising collaborative showing-in-progress of Renae Shadler (Australia), Maria Nurmela and Kalle Ropponen’s (Finland) immersive work titled Sussurus at Critical Path, to officially close the inaugural season.

No, that’s not entirely true, for as I perused the newly minted website I realised I was actually a mad March mover as well. Yeah, I had (actually still have) an installation nestled in the fifth floor of the library at the University of New South Wales. Why include a gallery installation? Well, if it’s to celebrate one of the true tour de force champions of the independent arts scene, in the guise of an official farewell of RealTime Magazine (1994-2017 in hard copy and 2019 as a web entity) and to launch the official digital archive, then I would be terribly remiss not to include this monumental happening in the month-long programming.

Titled In Response: Dialogues with RealTime I was chosen as an artist featured in several editions to contribute to this transformative juncture.

Why me?

Besides being incredibly honoured to show beside Martin del Amo and Lee Wilson and Mirabelle Wouters of Branch Nebula I was initially shocked. Felt unworthy somehow.

Then I realised it’s because of Keith Gallasch and Virginia Baxter that I am where I am today. Writing to you in this blog and making my small mark on the dancesphere. Don’t get me wrong, I would still be around in one guise or another, as I have had more than a few legs up along the way to where I am.

What I am about to regale you with is but one chapter in my career. Here goes…

In 2010 I made a work titled Briwyant. Everything about it was epic. The set featured a sixteen-metre river constructed of over forty mats which housed over two and a half thousand playing cards, five projection surfaces and a complicated interactive camera set up commanded by Imogen Cranna. Each card was representative of a dot. This river, my contemporary painting, a topographic map of country, my Grandmother’s country, and a simultaneous acknowledgement of the proliferation of wealth from the proceeds of artworks within communities through gambling (a kind of grassroots casino).

When you go to arts school, or whatever, you are encouraged to find your own voice. That thing that makes you, you. You’re fed the line that this is the key to arts success. As my 43rd birthday transpired I had already been making work for a number of years but to the Australian public it was then that I had been officially born. Leading up to this moment I was becoming increasingly overwhelmed and despondent in turns and in equal measure.

You see, Keith and Virginia were in the audience, scribbling away in the semi darkness, and when the show was over Keith sent out a viral email to all his networks. In it he urged people to come to the show, apologising for his unorthodox approach, but aware that his published review wouldn’t make it in time for them to attend. Producer Harley Stumm sent it to his networks and then Jo Porter from the Malthouse in Melbourne offered to present the work – sight unseen.

All of a sudden, I had a tour.

All because of a generosity of spirit that dared to engage with a show on the artist’s terms.

I will never forget this.

In that moment, I realised the power of the review. In that moment, I realised that I wanted to be able to write about dance. Not in order to deal out a pithy header and a star rating but to facilitate other emergent dance voices.

Keith and Virginia set the bar for me and in my own way I strive to maintain it. I was given a chance to grow, represent and share insight about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander dance and its significance to the perpetuation of culture, as a RealTime contributor. I found my legs with RealTime and now I run with FORM.

Alright, now the plug. I am to conduct a performance lecture at UNSW on April the 10th on said fifth floor from 6.30-8pm. I can state that I have supplied some spoilers, but I can’t state whether you’ll require shoes. If that sounds even a little intriguing then here’s where to click