Showreel

Someone recently pointed out that it is the year 2020 and my two showreels present work from 2000-2009. The “stage” and “screen” showreels were beautifully edited by Jane Wallace in 2009. That was before I had made a lot of work including Hey Scenester, Slowdive, Video Set, and Flaunt, and not to mention long before having commenced dabbling with dance film and even more daunting: editing my choreography.

My first dance film “Pulse” in 2012, was filmed with hand held DSLRs, thanks to Jane Wallace and my brother (filmmaker) Grant. Upon completion of the shoot, they informed me that it was time for me to learn to edit my own work. I was initially reluctant, however they patiently mentored me through editing Pulse. I had some struggles as it was engrained from years of making and seeing dance for the stage to want to frame the whole body, so learning to use mid-shots and close-ups took time. With more practice I eventually realised what an important tool editing was; not just for the sake of editing, but as an additional layer to the choreography.

As a choreographic tool, editing has changed processes by how I choreograph live work. When piecing work together, rehearsals are recorded and dropped into a time-line, replacing old forms of using Post-it notes!

My understanding of a showreel is to promote work and highlight the best parts. However, in making a showreel sometimes the editing drives a new story, carving micro narratives and, for dance, how the movement connects is an important factor. Each snippet of dance when cut together from various works (as existing stories) then essentially forms a ‘new dance’ in the edit with the music and cinematic elements all suggesting some sort of meaning or evoking emotion.

Needing to update my 2009 showreels, I assessed footage and decided to make a few showreels around the categories of my work as these have different audiences/ functions/ aesthetics.

Editing the dance film projects saw two different 5-minute reels emerge.

Dance film reel version 1:

Dance film reel version 2



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Shift (dance film) Part 1

As the creative output of my Master of Fine Arts (Dance) at the Victorian College of the Arts, University of Melbourne, I am making a series of experimental dance films.

One of the many things I love about doing my masters at the VCA is that I am exploring ideas I would not otherwise consider. Having the opportunity to experiment has seen the birth of new ideas and new creative processes. “Shift” is the second of my dance film projects as a part of my MFA.

Richard Causer and Lucy Hood

It was great to be reuniting to work again with dancer Richard Causer, and cinematographer Kevin Holloway.

Lucy Hood was someone I had not worked with before, but she was a delight.

The idea was to film as much of the duet in as many locations that we had permission to. Rehearsals saw excursions to locations to test and adapt the choreography to the locations.

Following the 4-5 days of rehearsals we went straight into a 4 day shoot. Working with a small crew meant working quickly. Over 4 days, we filmed in 17 locations.

The budget was tight so I wrangled most locations in kind. It meant pulling favours from friends who were generous with the use of their homes and businesses.

In some locations where we were permitted to film, we could not gain exclusive access, so four awesome young humans helped us hog the playground!

One of my favourite locations was Susan and Chris’s 1950’s home. They were incredible hosts and we lunched together on set. Host(s) with the most! Left to right: Amelia Le-Bherz (make up artist) Chris, Susan, Kevin, Lucy, Richard.

A section of choreography was adapted to their incredible pool.

Another location was Phase 4 Records and Cassettes. It’s one of my favourite record bars in Brisbane. Business owner and music gurus Julie and Donat were so kind letting us carve up the choreography at their store.

A long time student, Kirrah was having her 19th Birthday the weekend of the shoot. Her family have been long time supporters of dance and have been so kind to me over the years. I thought that a birthday scene might be an option and Kirrah’s family were fine with us crashing Kirrah’s 19th. I don’t think Kirrah even knew we were rehearsing there. Older sister Sabrina had been so helpful in all the organising.

Mrs Jobst made the dancers a coffee between rehearsals at her house.

My Friends Steph and Dave were so kind to let us film at their house. Unfortunately, the chandelier didn’t last the entire shoot….

The four days of filming went well (sans chandelier incident)
The next step is editing… I have no idea how this is going to turn out. Embracing experimenting!

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Flaunt 2.0 Tour 2016

Sue Benner Bump out

The Flaunt set was bumped out of the Sue Benner theatre on the Saturday night of the 14th of April 2016.  The truck was driven up to Cairns by Felicity aka ‘Flick’.


Costumes had been neatly packed.

Cairns Centre of Contemporary Art

CAIRNS: The first stop was the theatre. It was good to see Charles Wiles who runs The Centre of Contemporary Arts, Cairns. I had been to CoCA in 2011 for a visit when Charles had programmed my work Slowdive for the Cairns Festival at the Attic Nite Club. Fran and Matt had already arrived before me and along with Felicity had already laid the tarkette and assembled the set. The dancers arrived on the Wednesday and we began to rehearse in the space.

Audience development takes time, but due to the strong dance audience in Cairns thanks to Charles Wiles work developing dance audiences. we had two shows at CoCA. 

Every venue is different and that impacts on how much space there is, and especially on lighting. We had the time to tweak the lighting and there were some specific things I had wanted to fix following the Metro Arts season. Below: rehearsing in the space at CoCA:


I thought it might be good to get some aditional photographs taken of Flaunt in a larger theatre. Photographer Marc McCormack was recommended and was available. Here’s some my favourite images he took of Flaunt 2.0 at the Centre of Contemporary Arts Cairns.

We bumped out of CoCA on Saturday the 23rd of April, and flew back to Brisbane on Sunday the 24th (not without a cast and crew photo before we left).

The truck was driven back to Brisbane and ready for the next venue which was Toowoomba:

TOOWOOMBA:


I had a few days of workshops in Toowoomba in the lead up to the performance in Toowoomba. I am told that Toowoomba only programmes one contemporary dance show per year. In 2017 it was ADT! So as an independent artist it was a big deal to be taking my work to Toowoomba. We had one show in Toowoomba which was at the Armitage Theatre at the Empire Theatre.

I had been to Toowoomba the month earlier for the screening of my film Ward of State and I took some photos while testing the film to show Fran and Matt who were not familiar with the space.

Bump in:
We didn’t have a photographer for Toowoomba, but here’s an iphone snap from during the performance:.

We bumped out of Toowoomba the night of the 14th. It was two weeks before the final show, so everyone was starting to feel a bit sad about it being over.  The final stop was the Ipswich Civic Centre on May the 27th.


Ipswich Civic Centre

It is said that dance is a hard sell in Ipswich, but I had built connections there over the years. It was nice that the final show was in Ipswich with a lot of students, friends, and familiar faces in the audience. The local high school dance school teachers where’s I’ve taught guest workshops brought their students along. It was nice to feel supported. Ward of State was screened after Flaunt as a double bill. Many people had not seen the screening in December 2014, so it was a chance to show the film again.

Here’s the team at the Ipswich Civic Centre:

The Ipswich Civic Centre seats 500 people, and the Flaunt sales were close to 400 which is a massive fete for dance. I’d been told to expect 50-100 if I was lucky. Metro Arts and my local connections worked so hard to encourage as many people to attend.

Ipswich discovery

One strange thing did occur in the time between Toowoomba and Ipswich. In all my family research that informed my film Ward of State, I often wondered if my Great Grandfather Charles Thyer had ever performed in Ipswich. They had performed in Brisbane, Newcastle, Sydney, and New Zealand. I could never find any evidence that they had performed in Ipswich, but had a feeling that they did. Occasionally I search the Trove website and had never found any evidence of them performing in Ipswich. However in the lead up to Flaunt and Ward of State in Ipswich, this information had just been digitised and leaped out of the screen!

My Great Grand Father would have been too young to have joined his siblings in their toupee called “Les Thiers” at the time. But his older siblings, Ada, Maude, and Wattie (acrobats and contortionists) were on the bill as “Special Engagement by the Wonderful Thyer Family”. I read further below and their father “Mr Charlie Thyer” was also performing and listed him as a banjo soloist and a comedian.

The Thyer Family performed at the School of the Arts in Ipswich. It’s still there, directly across the road from where Flaunt was shown at the Ipswich Civic Centre. The timing of this appearing was quite surreal as I was in Ipswich making a work that came about from my family research, (as a starting point in looking at how women pushed themselves in history), and my show was performing literally accross the road from where performed in 1898, almost 120 years earlier!  This was the School of Arts in Ipswich Qld (now is the Art Gallery).


http://picture.ipswich.qld.gov.au/awweb/main.jsp?flag=browse&smd=1&awdid=12

Flaunt Bump out

On Saturday the 28th of May, we bumped out of the Civic Centre and retuned to Mill Street Studios where the set would live. The post-show blues had kicked in. When you invest so much of your time, money, and passion into something, it can be hard to say goodbye.

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Flaunt 2.0 Redevelopment 2016

FLAUNT 2.0  Redevelopment in 2016photo by Mark Greenmantle

It had been a little over a year since Flaunt had its first season at the Brisbane Powerhouse. During that year there was so much planning in motion for a Queensland tour of Flaunt. My producer Jo Thomas at Metro Arts had been working to generate interest in the work because contemporary dance is a hard sell to venues.

We had interest from Cairns, Toowoomba and Ipswich, but we would need to do a remounted season in Brisbane which Jo Thomas lined up to be at Metro Arts. If Flaunt had already received Arts Queensland funding, it would have been harder to get this tour up because Arts Qld only invests in a project once, and not a subsequent development of a work. Fortunately, in late December 2015, we had confirmation that Flaunt would have a remount and a small Queensland tour thanks to funding by the Australia Council.

I’d only ever toured once before – which was Slowdive which occurred at  Arts Centre Gold Coast and Cairns Festival. Dance companies tour work frequently, but as an independent artist it’s a very big deal to tour work.

Editing my own work saw a lot of time to look at the 2014 version and to reflect on it. How I envisaged the re-developed Flaunt 2.0 was very different to the 2014 Brisbane Powerhouse show.

The programme notes said it best:

Flaunt is about women’s gender, power, sexuality and projection of themselves. Flaunt examines what women project, publish and promote about themselves over some pivotal red letter dates over the last century.

In each time-period, I examined what was happening historically for women as well as how they were projecting themselves, or being projected. The changes for women over the past 120 years have been significant, but are we there yet? Or are the current times of social media where women are socially conditioned to police each other’s ‘acceptable’ images a step back in time for women.

Background of the idea: While researching my family history I became interested in the lives of women at particular times in history. I found a photograph of an ancestor who was an entertainer – frequently photographed and often published in the newspapers in the 1920s.

Simultaneously, some young people I knew were beginning to use social media to post photos of their bodies in various states of undress. I questioned the virtual identities that young women project and how they are often extreme and paradoxical. “Who is this for, to publish yourself in this manner? Do we post for ourselves or to compete with other women? Do we progressively become ‘monstrous versions’ of ourselves online?” I wondered what people in the future might think of these images and what they say about women today. I wondered what the women of the past might also think. I thought about the concept of a body frozen in time, brought back to life and dissected for investigation throughout history.

I wondered, “What might the body might say?”

Above photos by FenLan

TEAM: Rather than work with four dancers as I did in Flaunt 1.0, I thought it would be wiser to invest in some technical people, so we recruited Frances Hannaway (set designer and Production manager) and Mechanist (and Flaunt Technical Manager) Matt Staples on tour. Matt was head of Staging at the Brisbane Powerhouse at the time, and we were thankful that the Powerhouse let him take the time off work. Because there was a lot of safety risks associated with Flaunt, it was important that the set was constructed by people who knew what they were doing.

I was feeling more clear about the direction of the new work and I had David Fenton’s mapping formulas in my head as a starting point.

CAST: Courtney Scheu, (center) who was about 25 at the time and had been establishing a name for herself in Brisbane as a performer and independent artist/ choreographer.

Essie Horn, (left) who grew up in Brisbane but studied at WAAPA (as did Amelia Stokes). Essie was the youngest of the team as a recent university graduate.

Amelia Stokes (right) was no longer the youngest of the group and over the year and a quarter between Flaunt 1 and 2 had been busy on a lot of independent projects.


REHEARSAL TIME: 
Taking on working with two new dancers would see a longer rehearsal time frame. Working with the original cast would have been faster because they would have remembered the choreography, and the movement style was embodied. In contrast, a new cast would have a lot of material to learn, which takes time.


PRE-PRODUCTION: 
Digging out the set. The Flaunt Set had been living down in a shipping container for a year. Fran and Matt and the team retrieved that and assembled it


SET CHANGES:
 The additional rehearsal time meant we had a few extra days. The creative process of working with Matt and Fran was collaborative in the second development too. For example, there had been discussions about being able to have more than one dancer at the top of the set. With the safety guidelines and without any additional bracing we were only permitted one dancer. Fran and Matt built additional bracing on the set and which was really exciting to work with choreographically.

Below: the dancers excited to have the aditional steel bracing on the set.

Working at Mill Street was such a productive time. There was no time limitations on when we could be rehearsing or working on the set.

Fran and Matt also had to find more tarkette (we had seven layers in the show) and work out how these could be rolled and re-set easily.

Our pre-show set up of the rolls of tarkette would take about an hour as there was items of clothing that were revealed and some items of clothing ended up in the roll of tarkette. We had to retrieve these items of clothing at the end of the show to ensure they were washed and then reset for the following day.

REHEARSALS: We rehearsed at Mill Street Studios for two weeks commencing on the 22nd of March. During this time I developed a lot of new material and scrapped a lot from the first development. I pieced together the work in a time line in Final Cut Pro. It was easier to visualise this way. David Fenton and Fran and Matt would come in to watch rehearsals. David Fenton and I would discuss the work, my intention, and the creation of meaning in it.  Below: Lighting designer Michael Richardson attends a rehearsal with Fran and Matt.

Costumes:
Costuming was more elaborate for Flaunt 2.0. We had to find costumes representing the 1890’s, 1950’s, 1970’s, 1980, current times, as well as futuristic (just slightly). The 1980’s era was a last minute addition to the work. The 1980’s section saw the dancers in power-jackets and the set was used as a representation of the glass ceiling. I used a snippet of Yazoo’s “Don’t Go” in part of this section. It turned out to be one of the really important parts of the work, connecting to the “fax” section, and the computer generated “Why don’t you love me” section.

From rehearsals at Mill Street to measuring up the Sue Benner Theatre at Metro Arts:

Metro Arts has a very interesting history. You can read about this here: https://www.metroarts.com.au/history/

Bump Out of Mill Street Studios and into the Sue Benner Theatre at Metro Arts: After two weeks of rehearsal at Mill Street Studios, we de-assembled the set, packed it onto the truck and bumped into the Sue Benner Theatre.

Sue Benner Theatre: Bump in 4th April 2016.

In terms of the space at the Sue Benner theatre, the height of the space was a concern due to the height of the set, however I liked seeing the set in a smaller space.

Rehearsals Continued at Sue Benner Theatre, Metro Arts. We were refining the work/ culling sections/ adding details. Dramaturg David Fenton worked  with the dancers in developing their characterisation and performance.

My producer Jo Thomas is also an actor and was very understanding of how stretched artists become in the lead up to a show. Jo would drop into rehearsals and see how we were going and orgnaise times for interviews and press without stress.

INSPIRATION, DEVELOPMENT and STRUCTURE in Version 2.0:
My brother Grant and his partner Jane had been renovating their apartment. They stripped back the 1990s carpet and found 1980s Lino, under that was 1970s tiles, and under those was late 1960s tiles. There were probably someone’s memories attached to those surfaces in time, and I thought that for Flaunt, as we travel over time that the tarkette floors could also be wound back to revel another layer. There were costume changes too.

My creative process (under the guidance of David Fenton) manifested as a massive chart/ document, but it gave the work more clarity. 

SURFACES:
The white tarkette was preset already. This was for the futuristic state where the body is unravelled and examined. (Photos are by FenLan)

Then we had a time travel interlude with stobing lights and sounds suggesting time travel backwards in time. The trio wove in motifs seen over the piece ahead, but performed retrograded (going in reverse).

This was the 1890s section, with the lino made to resemble floor boards (warm lighting helped) and costuming with heavy long skirts. The set was an unclimbable structure as the dancers kept falling.

The lino was rolled back again to reveal black and white check surface leading into the 1950s post-war section. Rather than looking at the idea of women entering the workfore during the war, the focus was on women who had to go back to their household/ housewife roles after the war. Ideas around training little girls to be doll-like and learned feminine behaviour was seen here.

From the 1950s to the 1970s, we used a luscious green Italian tarkette and vintage frocks. I referenced the sexual revoution and juxtaposed this with the 6 o’cock swill which was a slang term for the 6pm rush for last drinks before public bars closed (Men permited only) and the culture of heavy drinking among men. In between all of the more contemporary sounds and atmosphere in the score, I used Donna Summer’s “Love to Love You Baby” in one part of this section.  The Set (structure) represented the character’s missing husbands and essentially patriarchy in this section.

For the 1980 section, Matt found some atrocious grey vinly from the late 1980s. Unlike the luscious green tarkette, it was quite brittle and plastic. In a yin-yang flip to the 1980s section, the dancers were suited up in power jackets rather than skirts. Furthermore, they were able to climb the structure which represented the idea of the glass ceiling.  Again, showing the struggle for women, we looked at the flip side and human side of the stuggle and costs to get to the top (so to speak). I wove in a section of Yazoo’s “Don’t Go” and might have incoporated some of my favourite 1980s shoulder moves.


Current times: looking a current times to make comment is easy when there’s social media, and I looked at the instant gratification of social media. The self-obsessed “selfie” era was referenced with the use of mylar on the floor (as a mirror to be constantly looking into) and the structure was essentially as a platform for the dancers to promote themselves as the traipsed overly sexualised movements informed by images on social media.

The top of the set was also used more in Flaunt version 2.0. It was used often to show more depth to the charachters, or another side in terms of what we saw from them below.

The all-consuming self-obssession builded to the climax of the work. Death by the refelctive mylar.

Following this was a reprise of the time travel trio, but in a forward direction. The final layer (in terms of a surface) is was the clear vinyl that the dancer was wrapped in at the beginng (in the future). The scientists essentially wrap her up and put her back on the slab/ lab side.

The Flaunt v2.0 season at Metro Arts ran from Wednesday the 13th of April 2016 to Saturday the 16th of April 2016. We also had some press in the lead up to the season:


Reviews:
https://bluecurtainsbris.wordpress.com/2016/04/20/4337/

And here:

Flaunt

BUMP OUT OF METRO ARTS: We took a cast and crew photo and bumped out of Metro Arts on the Saturday evening.


“Lucky we’ve got a Titan”

Felicity from The Centre of Contemporary Arts Cairns (CoCA) was on board as lighting operator for Flaunt and drove the truck back up to Cairns ready for the season in Cairns. I felt so happy that I was able to remount Flaunt, and was very excited that it was going on tour.

Below: A few more photos by FenLan

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