Dance Massive 2019 is the third iteration of the biennial contemporary dance festival in Melbourne. It spans many venues, and is anchored by Dancehouse, Artshouse, and The CUB Malthouse.
The Dancehouse 2019 program for Dance Massive features a unique proposal: We Move You, sensory encounters where the audience participate in parts of the choreography or physical score featured in the dance that they afterward will proceed to watch. This sensory encounter, offered 15 – 24 March, is led by choreographers James Batchelor, Siobhan McKenna and Russel Dumas. The sessions are designed to increase engagement and enhance the experience of watching the performance.
“I am really excited about the We Move You concept,” says James Batchelor, one of the artists presenting a We Move You session, “because I am interested in the total experience of going to the theatre and how we watch dance. The formality of the silent seated audience and the ‘staged’ performer can only offer so much. I am interested in how offering to share and embody some of the movement practice in the work will affect the audience’s experience and reading of the performance.”
Batchelor is known for work that has architectural sensitivity to space and rhythmic playfulness. He has presented work around the world in traditional and non-traditional dance spaces. Batchelor is presenting HYPERSPACE at Dance Massive, which he describes as “a meditation on the unknown – looking into the void, falling through a black hole, time-space stretching and bending, the alien, the invisible. It is a dance that playfully manipulates senses and scale, demanding close attention/inspection of microscopic details against the super-massive backdrop of the universe.”
Siobhan McKenna is an emerging choreographer who won the 2017 Fringe Award for Best Dance. Her works are concerned with the experimentation and play between voice, sound and movement. She is presenting Utterance at Dance Massive, a work which proposes new and exciting ways of perceiving the role of sound and language in relation to the moving body. “It takes audiences on a rhythmic journey,” McKenna describes, “navigating entangled patterns of sound and proposing intriguing new ways to understand the relationship between language, sound and the human body.”
McKenna says the We Move You session she will be leading will be a “great way for audiences to experience the dance of the artist with their own body before watching the performance. I am approaching it with this in mind and intend to share some of the choreographic ideas and artistic process with the people who join me for this session. I hope they will enjoy having some insight into the process of making Utterance and experiencing this in their own bodies before viewing the work itself.”
McKenna continues, “I am really interested to see how undertaking the We Move You session will affect the audiences interpretation of Utterance. I hope people will be able to relate to the work on a more sensorial level and get a greater sense of what the work is about through engaging in the process themselves.”
Batchelor says that his We Move You session will be “an interaction with the audience where the physical practice is shared. I will guide the participants through some very simple movement-based ideas that focus on creating sensitivity, focus and attention in the body. It is a preparation to the show, literally a ‘warm-up’ for the audience. I haven’t done something like this before with my work, but I definitely have a desire for more intimate and informal exchanges between the artist and the audience.”
He adds, “Absolutely anyone can participate in the We Move You session. It is not a dance class, nor is it about ‘dancing’ even. It is more a simple exercise of mind and body, intended to be gentle and playful. There won’t be any choreography or ‘steps’ to learn. You don’t need to bring anything; all you need is your body. I promise, you have nothing to lose!”
McKenna says, “We Move You isn’t necessarily about learning exactly what the dancers are doing in the work but playing with the ideas that Utterance explores in a fun and creative way that includes everyone.”
For more information or to book for a We Move You session, click here.
By Tamara Searle of Dance Informa.