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James Welsby talks ‘Dreamlogic’

By Rain Francis of Dance Informa.

Disappearing and reappearing bodies, the sound of footsteps and breath…is there a dancer on stage, or is this performance just something your brain has conjured up? Next month in Melbourne, audiences will be treated to a brand new work by Phantom Limbs collaborators, James Welsby and Amy Macpherson. Presented as part of the Darebin Arts’ Speakeasy program of independent theatre and dance – and inspired by neurological science – Dreamlogic explores how our brains perceive our bodies and the outside world. We spoke to co-choreographer James Welsby about this exciting new creation.

How long has this show been in the making?

“We have been working on Dreamlogic for six months, but the style of Phantom Limbs has been an ongoing evolution since 2008.”

How would you describe what the show explores?

“The show explores how our subconscious minds make connections, find meaning and influence our decision-making. The show explores a disembodied voice and embodied dancing existing in a parallel space, with the audience deciding how the two relate.”

What drew you to this subject matter?

“Neuro-typical and mental health challenges within our circles.”

It brings to mind the book The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat. Did you use this or other texts in your research?

“The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat is wonderful! It’s simultaneously illuminating and mysterious. We didn’t base our research as much on text, but on lectures and interviews from people such as Leonard Mlodinow. It was important to do first-hand research, so that the information influenced us directly through conversation.”

What stage of creation are you at currently?

“The show is still being developed, but the main premise of the show isn’t changing. We’re going deeper into it.”

What has been the biggest challenge so far?

“Knowing what to invest in and what to abandon.”

What sort of music/soundscape are you using and what other creative elements?

“The soundscape is a lecture on psychology that warps and goes somewhere completely different. It really takes you on a ride!”

What ideas or feelings do you hope the audience might take away from Dreamlogic?

“We’re hoping the audience has a transfixing experience, steeped in mystery. In the show, we perform material which is a manifestation of the research, while pairing it with a related yet disconnected soundscape. The show makes a big change about halfway through, which really turns the information on its head.”

What is the history of Phantom Limbs? 

“Phantom Limbs was established by Amy Macpherson and myself in 2008, the year after we graduated from VCA. The model of the collective is to forge new collaborations. We took our first show Concrete Solace to Adelaide Fringe in 2009, and then had a season at Theatre Works in St Kilda, which won us the ‘Audience Choice’ and ‘Industry Selection’ Award for their Moving Works season. In 2010 we created The Memory Progressive with a new group of collaborators. Our last show was TRTH+FNTSY (A collaboration with Luke George) which won BEST DANCE and Melbourne Festival Discovery Award in Melbourne Fringe 2013. This show sees a return to the form of duet, like the way the company began.”

DREAMLOGIC by Phantom Limbs is performed by James Welsby and James Andrews. It plays at the Northcote Town Hall, Victoria from March 6 – 10, 2015. For tickets and more information visit darebinarts.com.au/speakeasy or call 03 9481 9500.

Photo (top): ‘Dreamlogic’ by Phantom Limbs. Photo courtesy of James Welsby.

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