Australian Dance Reviews

DirtyFeet presents Out of the Studio 2022

Tra Mi Dinh’s 'And, again'. Photo courtesy of DirtyFeet Out of the Studio 2022.
Tra Mi Dinh’s 'And, again'. Photo courtesy of DirtyFeet Out of the Studio 2022.

East Sydney Community and Arts Centre, Sydney. 
10 September 2022.

DirtyFeet presented its latest offerings from the Out of the Studio series, with two fresh works in development by emerging choreographers Gabriela Green Olea and Tra Mi Dinh. After two years of no live performances, wading through a pandemic and all that came with it, DirtyFeet has finally been able to bring us a live performance, and we are so very grateful.  

Much is happening in the DirtyFeet space for the remainder of this year, and these performances have certainly started it all on a high. 

Out of the Studio is a program that grants choreographers the funding and space to be able to bring a first draft of work and present it to a live audience, with opportunity for discussion and feedback at the end of each work.  

Gabriella Green Olea’s Spaces of Belonging. Photo courtesy of DirtyFeet Out of the Studio 2022.
Gabriella Green Olea’s Spaces of Belonging. Photo courtesy of DirtyFeet Out of the Studio 2022.

Heading up the night was Gabriella Green Olea’s Spaces of Belonging, exploring the many facets of connection between humans. Working with a variety of artists with a wide range of ability and background, each brought something unique to this beautiful piece. Prior to entering the studio, the audience was asked to write down what we were curious about. This was later used in the work, with audience participation, sparking conversation and connection between strangers. The audience viewed, but also participated throughout the work, and it brought a wonderful sense of awareness to the space, to the others in the room, and gently coaxed out our curiosity and sense of connection to one another. The artists used the space traditionally, as on a stage, but also interspersed throughout the audience, and at times the audience was in the work, throughout the space, and we merged between observing and participating. Often, being asked to participate in performances can feel quite awkward, but Olea’s method was quite special, leaving us feeling at the end as if we wanted more. 

The unique bodies and movement styles with the cast made this work quite rich, as Olea chose to work with dancers and performance artists with and without disability, something that DirtyFeet champions in the arts sector, the result being work that opens up the possibility for creativity, inclusivity, unique ways of moving and concepts that go beyond where the ideas might go otherwise. It certainly enhanced the sense of connection the audience felt with the work.

Tra Mi Dinh’s work And, again, in collaboration with dance artist Mitchell Christie, explores the concept of starts and beginnings, questioning where does something truly start? The concept of starting an engine, starting a process, the tuning of an orchestra at the beginning of a symphony, and all the metaphors behind the concept, have worked their way into Dinh’s process. This follows on from her Keir Choreographic Award-winning piece, The_, which explores endings. Both works are questioning the concept of time, the framework that presents and its ubiquitous nature in our lives. 

Tra Mi Dinh’s 'And, again'. Photo courtesy of DirtyFeet Out of the Studio 2022.
Tra Mi Dinh’s ‘And, again’. Photo courtesy of DirtyFeet Out of the Studio 2022.

And, again was a simply stunning piece of dance in and of itself. It was absolutely refreshing to see these dancers utilise their high level of technical skill and the space in a vigorous, energetic and intricate way, using sync, unspoken communication and connection in a manner that had the audience captivated from start to finish. There was a sense of looping and repetition, which brought a sense of recognition amidst the seeming chaos of multiple starts. A poignant sense of beauty, trying to grasp time, reach into a start, but not quite reaching it before trying again, relationship, everyday tasks, life….an overall sense of wholeness pervaded the work, despite starting points being the focus, which felt incredibly satisfying. The soundtrack consisted of sounds that were in the literal movement ideas, a motor starting and an orchestra tuning, among others. They enhanced the concept but did not take over, a finely balanced partnership.  

At the end of each performance, there was a chance for the audience to make comments and ask questions. Each work brought something very different from the other, and the sense in the room was that we had witnessed something very special in each. Olea’s work for her ability to include the audience in an inviting and non-confrontation manner, and Dinh’s work for the journey she and Christie took us on whilst showing some wonderful choreographic ideas and energy.

Watch this space. It will be a treat to see where each works goes and what the next stage of development holds. Thank you, DirtyFeet, for giving artists the chance to create work and mentor them through the process. Without such platforms, works such as Spaces of Belonging and And, again may never have found a voice. Do not miss the next instalment; it is a chance to see work in rough draft, and a great way to enhance one’s understanding of the creative process of a variety of choreographers and dance makers.

By Linda Badger of Dance Informa. 

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