Puncture: The beginnings

I am working this past week and there’s buzz about a new project in the offing from several dancers I come into contact with. They’ve just completed a comprehensive auditioning process with Legs On The Wall and haven’t heard news of the results yet.

I ask what it’s about and glean vital tid-bits of information as it filters through. Ten lucky young and emerging performers, five men and five women, will get the chance to be a part of the first stage development of a new work Puncture by Legs On The Wall, FORM Dance and Sydney Philharmonia’s youth choir, VOX. Conceived and directed by Patrick Nolan who will work with Kathryn Puie, as choreographer, Puncture’s first stage will run for two weeks and the performers will be mentored by a very impressive line-up of mid-career dance practitioners, Kristina Chan and Josh Thomson who incidently have just spent a week in residence at Bundanon artists retreat workshopping in preparation for this event.

The audition occurred in two stages over three hours (6 hours in total) and was led by three key mentors, Paea Leach, who introduced a theatrical element comprised of physical tasks with a conceptual component honed through her experience with Chunky Move under the direction of Gideon Obarzanek (Dance Like your Old Man comes to mind) and refined with the likes of Sidi larbi Cherkoui (Babel).  Josh Thomson, most renowned for his ongoing work with Gavin Webber (Dance North, Splinter Group, Food Chain Collective), can dish out a pretty gruelling class, challenging upper body skills consisting of lightening fast transitions into and out of the floor, alternating effortlessly between the upright and inverted state, also led a class/workshop, as did Kristina Chan whose body seems to know no bounds, able to twist and contort, extend and execute with unparalleled precision and whose well-deserved reputation as one Australia’s leading female dancers precedes her.

I ask participant Travis De Vries (recent Bangarra Dance Theatre company member) what he hopes to receive from the experience and he replied he had no particular preconceived expectations. When I ask him what Legs (the company) represents to him, he answers, “Rowan Marchingo”.

“I think of performers like Rowan Marchingo with strong bodies. I think of ropes and harnesses and flying through the air” De Vries adds.

I ask him whether Kathryn Puie led one of the workshops he replied, “No, but she was there, watching.”

He (Travis), told me he didn’t know much of her but that she had a formidable upper body. This writer knows first-hand from working with Kathryn what an understatement this is. As a performer she possesses a physical confidence and daring that enables her to work in many capacities, whether with myself in ridiculously high heels, a boot, a kimono and a three metre pole, negotiating a skinny staircase in the city as part of a performance for  the fabulous Tess De Quincey (No Cold Feet) , stilt walking and harness work with Stalker or body slamming against concrete in a skate park for Branch Nebulla.

I ask Anna Healy, another successful participant, what she hopes to gain and she speaks directly of an experience understudying Kristina Chan for choreographer Anton in Supermodern, performed at Parramatta Riverside Theatres last year. She remembers it as one of the most rewarding experiences, constantly aiming to match the standards set by Chan.

“To be mentored in this way is an amazing opportunity. I plan to make the most of it. I can’t wait. This is what I do it for. I am going to focus on giving 100% of my ability”, Anna shared.

Such enthusiasm is infectious.

Incidentally she shares a bit of her audition experience. Of the moment this giant blonde guy (De Vries) walks up to her and asks to be her partner in a counter-balancing exercise. He tells her he’s been watching her and she looks like she knows what she is doing. Apparently it didn’t seem to matter that he had more than a foot on her diminutive frame.

The project development starts today. Watch this blog space as I do a follow up in a couple of weeks.


Image Credit: Brett Boardman