At 6pm this Friday and Saturday night the standard flow of commuters and locals drifting between restaurants and bars on Errol Street, North Melbourne, will be interrupted by a twitching, turning, falling mass of dancers in a series of satellite performances.
The work in total is Action/Response, part of Dance Massive 2013, whose program has featured distinctive contemporary dance works around Melbourne this month.
Action/Response presents new performance works by a cross-disciplinary bunch of artists made in response to two written texts that describe everyday movements ¬– actions that also serve as metaphors for understanding the world. Curator of Action/Response Hannah Mathews describes this iteration – ‘Turning’ and ‘Falling’ – as her own response to living in a dense urban area and a desire to offer people an opportunity to pause and reflect.
“North Melbourne is becoming more and more gentrified. I wanted to see something here, just as it is now, something that will cause passers-by to stop and think about their everyday actions and their movement through the place.”
Mathews corralled 20 emerging and established performers to create the work (including Daniel Crooks, Alicia Frankovich, Nathan Gray, Bianca Hester and Laresa Kosloff). But first she needed something they could respond to and build the work from. In collaborating with writers Ramona Koval and The Age’s Chris Johnston, Mathews settled on the actions of turning and falling.
In describing the writing of the text ‘Turning,’ Koval says she approached it like she was herself moving on “some celestial dolly camera from out in the galaxy to coming right in to what happens on earth.” Koval’s early training as a scientist is evident in the text with its telescopic and then microscopic perspectives, ranging from planets turning in orbit, down to strands of DNA, that ‘turn and turn about an axis, like a twisted ladder, coding all of life.”
“The more I read the more I remembered,” says Koval, “I began to think the whole world is about turning – turning around the sun, the sun turning around our galaxy. And I thought why don’t I start there.”
“I’ve always been fascinated by microscopes and telescopes,” she continues. “The idea that there was an instrument that could make you aware of a world that you had no knowledge about…It’s also a little bit metaphysical. There are things that can go on in your world and you are not aware of them unless you are able to see a little bit closely or feel or pick up vibes or something.”
Peering through Errol Street shopfronts and then out onto the street, passers-by may chance to see something of themselves, ‘Turning on, turning off, turning over, turning round’ or ‘Falling in love, falling down, falling apart.’ Everyday actions reflected back, some banal, some beautiful.