a-bridging-place blog

What

Welcome to our residency blog!

Over the next ten days 16th – 23rd May we will be reflecting on the adventures of our exchange and collaboration as we seed new knowledge and approaches for site dance creation and begin the development of a new work ‘a-bridging-place’.

We are hungry to meet in the flesh and to experience process in place together and to allow for inputs from our residency consultants Uncle John Graham, Daniele Constance and Glenn Barry to feed our journey. We hope you will follow them here…

– by Alison Plevey, Australian Dance Party
Scott Belzner Photography

14/05/21 – Zoom meets in April/May

Over the last month Gogi Dance Collective and Australian Dance Party have been meeting in the virtual site, not breathing the same air just yet, but definitely talking the same language. Our four zoom sessions have laid a meeting place for us all to start to reflect on our work, who we are as individuals and collectives and to develop structures and scaffolds for the residency to come. Our conversations have been joyous and powerful, time to recollect and imagine, to share and listen. Daniele has joined us to introduce concepts and background for accessibility and audience experiences, in a completely positive and exciting talk, that seemed to open up much possibility for us when we meet in site with our whole sensory selves. Remembering of bridges, questions of site and subject, planning, imagining, and juggling quarantine and other work/life bits, all in the mix here as we move towards time together for ‘a-bridging-place’…

– by Alison Plevey, Australian Dance Party

17/05/21 – Day 1, Supercell Makers, Home of the Arts (HOTA)

Super!!! first day at Supercell.
Met the Gogi girls and bunch of the Supercell peeps, and kicked off the day with soul trains on the incredible indoor HOTA stage and outdoor textures  amidst trees and paths. It was energised and powerful to be in the same space busting out with Amy Zhang and getting grounded speed date style with the HOTA parklands. The community of dance is here.

Our first session of the day and this entire project was welcoming and nourishing beyond words. Led by the generous, open and wise Uncle John Graham. He welcomed us here to the Yugumbeh, Kombumerri country of the Nerang river and HOTA precinct, the site where we are creatively working for the next week.

Below are some words and take aways from this powerful session with Uncle John, who shared with us, witnessed our first dance on the bridge as two companies connecting body to body. He guided us to connect to the significance of this place, drawing on remembering when he was young, mullet fish and mangroves. The river as the life blood of the ecosystems – of the people.

As we sat, walked, talked and moved, a process of laying ground, knowledge and respect to this place for our adventures hereafter. We are not sure where the week will go, and that’s not the point. As uncle John reminded us it is the journey, the peaks and troughs.

Respect
Reciprocity
Relationship
(Reconciliation)

– by Alison Plevey, Australian Dance Party

18/05/21 – Day 2, This is our job!!

 

Today on the bridge, while we were working (and having fun), a passer by shouted out to us- rather aggressively:  Have you ever thought of getting a real job?! That was a highlight. Because well, Mister, improvising, playing and dancing on a bridge with peers who already have become friends on day 2 IS our actual job. And we love it. If only you knew what you miss by not being a dancer at Supercell festival. You’d be devastated. Because:

Waking up tickled by golden Gold Coast sun rays. Getting up, getting a coffee and going to morning class where we learn from Amrita Hepi how to sing Italian opera and dance at the same time. Also, being lifted up into the sky by 6 people while having the precious time to imagine your favourite place in nature, your favourite water place and your favourite enclosed space. What a treat. Afterwards channeling being an octopus with guidance from amazing mover and octopus expert Prue Lang. Warmed up and with loose limbs we walk to our bridge into rehearsal.

We start day 2 with a task called “History of yesterday”, loosely and freely trying to replicate and remember moments from the improvisations from the day before. We realise that we already have lots of shared material.

Then trying new tasks, games and ideas. Combining states and tasks, for instance following prompts:
-Towards- away from
-Absurdity
-Sticking with what you are doing

This leads to plenty of fun moments. Highlights are :
-chasing down the postie on his bike
-tour guiding the bridge
-codeword “mullet”
-scaring real dogs by pretending being a dog too
-becoming a sherpa loaded with backpacks
-throwing a dancer off the bridge (almost)

You get the picture. And yes, this is our job. And we love it.

After a lunch break we have mentor Meryl Tankard come and watch us and gifting us a task of hers:
Holding up the sky with six body parts, mosquitos chasing you and a hot bridge. This leads to instant nice solos (and exhaustion). It was really nice to have her with us being an outside eye and exchange working practices and performances.

Sundried, with cracked lips and happy heart we walk home while the sun is setting.

This is a day of dancers in the makers program in Supercell. And I have to say it again: yes, this is our job. And we love it.

– by Viviane Frehner, Gogi Dance Collective

19/05/21 – Day 3, End to End

The morning treated us to another combo workshop.

Ben introduced us to our spines, to buoys, chains and anchors and we searched for the memories of every show we ever will ever perform. The beginnings of a task that encompassed everything, and ended before it began. Merinda led us to a thousand green textures and to contemplate what it might be like if those textures touched us back.

The bridge, and by extension us, is subjected to many predictable changes in rhythms and direction. The water beneath us breathes, rising and lowering with the tide. The sun draws the shadows over us in the afternoons. The songs of birds especially present this morning as a choir of seven forced our attention to the branches. And perhaps the most impactful on the process, the frequency of dogs and their walkers. A slow tide of paws and wet noses, soft ears, energetic tails and quiet growls.

We have discovered a great power of our collective focus, able to magnify from macro to micro in an instant. In a space so concrete, it’s spacial trajectory so direct, to go against the rhythms. To be still in a current, is a small rebellion.

This doesn’t get unnoticed by the dogs, who pull at their leads to investigate the strangers breaking the conventions of bridge-walking. To them we must seem like alien backpackers. We have made the blue bridge our home that we share with crossers for fleeting moments. Today we waved at a ferry until they, confused, stopped and watched as we continued waving. Long after it became awkward. We engaged in watching as well today, negotiating how we might guide the audience through the experience end to end. While we haven’t settled on exactly how, we have noticed that the space guides us to continually cross.

Baked and worn by days of sun, we gratefully sheltered inside the HOTA theatre for some meaning making in a moment, 5 probing questions in 5 ways, amidst old friends.

– by Ryan Stone, Australian Dance Party

20/05/21 – Day 4, Heart and Sense

ADP went to the daily class with Dancenorth while the Gogi’s spent the morning shooting a promo video at the beach in Miami. After spending the morning apart all six of us came back together and reconnected through our first creative session of the day, led by local Gold Coast artist, Glenn Barry. Having been so focused on the site of “the bridge” for the week it was refreshing to have Glenn lead a session around connecting to each other and back to ourselves. Together Glenn facilitated us to go deep, get vulnerable, share with each other and receive a word that came from the heart. Staying out of the head and going with instinct allowed us to deepen our bonds with each other and learn more about ourselves.

Delightful, trusting, mysterious, leader, winnie the pooh, keto (a made up word), warm, generous, possibility, brave, love, joy, uncomplicated, sad, alone, closed.

We spoke about why we dance. Why do we keep doing it? Why do we need to dance? We danced for Glenn and he danced with us. We sat in a circle and Glenn played his didgeridoo and we received it from his heart. Glenn successfully “brought us back to our inner site as site makers. Who we are and what really matters in art and life – connecting to heart.” – ADP

We took a lunch break and after lunch met up with local Gold Coast artist Daniele Constance whom we had been working with over zoom in the lead up to this development. Daniele’s focus for this session was bringing awareness to ours and others’ different senses, and offering accessible options and considerations to site work. Daniele sent us on a sound hunt around the bridge, collecting sounds, sharing them with each other, orienting ourselves to the sounds, dancing to them and navigating listening as a group, eyes closed and eyes open. These were just a few of the things we began to explore. We named our sounds; hanging rubber, galloping horse, mechanical gurgling…

Sound moved into touch moved into visual and together we played, discussed and deepened our sensory awareness of our surroundings. Daniele informed us, and showed us a few ways to consider from the outset of making any new site work around audience accessibility. This isn’t something we have always considered first in our past works but something we all recognise is a consideration for our works going forwards as we continue to deepen not only our site practices but our audience accessibility and experience. 

**Mid session with Daniele we had the ABC come and film us dancing around on the bridge while festival Director Kate Usher “watched and admired us” as the ABC director described it… I think we might now be famous??

-by Ashleigh White, Gogi Dance Collective

21/05/21 – Day 5, TODAY on the Bridge

A jam-packed day of dance! Let’s unpack:

8-9am – We were filmed by the TODAY show as part of their weather section and danced in the background on the HOTA Bridge behind presenter Tim Davies interviewing Supercell Festival Director Kate Usher. Ushing drones they captured us as tiny, coloured specks before zooming in closer as we connected hands and limbs to form our own moving bridges.

9-11:45AM – After participating in classes all week, we made the decision not to take morning class and instead continue our practice on the bridge. Supercell offered so many opportunities over the festival and we did our best to attend as many as we could, but we needed to prioritise a-bridging-place, especially before tomorrow’s showing. We returned to Daniele’s tasks from the day before and worked with the words that had been written down in response to the sounds, sensations, and sight the bridge offered and created some set choreographic material (a first for the week).

Scuffing shoes – lamenting – mechanical growling – hundred of splatting puddles – flip flop – dancing dots – falling upwards – hypnotic rhythms – dissolving hinterland – loose fragments – thousands of tiny reflections – sagging rubber

11:45AM-1:30PM – As the sun reached its strength, we took some rest in a cafe close by to eat and plan out what we would show for the Saturday showing. With our heavily written on and doodled butchers paper containing all the tasks and ideas gathered from the week, we were able to piece together some different tasks and audience viewing/participation options as well as plan out what we might like to discuss and share with the audience.

1:30-3PM – As we digested, we were treated to the ‘Moving Communities’ workshop with Everybody NOW focusing on Community Practice. This workshop focused on the language we use and meanings of different community practices. It was also a space to talk freely, ask questions and problem solve any experiences we have had or are having. It stirred up beautiful memories of past works and community engagements.

3-6PM – Network drinks and nibbles with all artists. This was a lovely time to connect in with all the fantastic artists (not just dancers and dance makers but visual artists too) gathered for this festival.

6PM – Work-in-grogress showing RINSE by Amrita Hepi. Check her out here
7:30PM Work-in-grogress showing Cool Asian Mum’s Guide-to-Life by Amy Zhang. More on Amy here

7:30-9:30PM – Pizza at Salt Meats Cheese with Gogi dancer Ashleigh White and WA Independent Artist Talitha Maslin

Summary – As quoted by Amrita Hepi at the end of her showing. “Thank you. I love dance.”

-by Olivia Fyfe, Australian Dance Party

22/05/21 – Day 6, Experimenting with the audience

The literal bridge that stands between the glamorous island suburbia of Surfers Paradise and the eccentric HOTA arts precinct was the perfect metaphor for this residency. It was here that our two companies’ site dance approaches intersected to explore the patterns, psychologies and choreographies of the bridge. And now these experiments were taken to an audience.

In the public space of a bridge, the natural order is to keep moving, pass by and get to the destination. Similar to the flow of the tidal river below that never pauses. Thus, it was our collective desire to keep the audience in motion as they watched our improvisations.

Alas, humans who have come to watch art have an inbuilt code of behaviour which is to be still, be quiet and focus in. Our experiments then were attempts to disrupt this code and enable a more natural and free engagement with the happenings of the bridge, the performance and coincidences that occur between the two.

The results of our experiments are yet to be analysed by the companies, but our methodologies are outlined below.

Experiment 1: Choreographic Tour Guiding
This improvisational score was to choreograph the audience as they traversed the bridge and at the same time take them on a tour through their senses. The audience was divides into two smaller groups and started from each end of the bridge, gradually join together in the middle.

Experiment 2: Let’s take a walk
This improvisational score was for the audience to stay in motion as they walk. Non-stop across the bridge. Meanwhile a simple duet between Gogi & ADP unfolded. The curious duet was also in motion and the dancer’s followed a score to always keep their face facing the same direction whilst their bodies were on separate journeys.

Experiment 3: Morphing Mullet Mob
This improvisational score was for the audience to follow but with more autonomy to stop, hold back, move around (although this was not clearly communicated so the results are obscured). The dancers played with a flocking score that would morph from pedestrian to absurdity. An enjoyable peak moment was when a party thumping jet skier cruised by and his tunes burst into the improvisation igniting the mob into a rave.

Experiment 4: The Theatrical Reveal
This improvisational score took delight in the arc of a bridge and slowing revealing the dancers bodies from behind the arc. Now placing the audience in a traditional stationary viewpoint, the bridge was shown to have a pleasing staging effect.

-by Alicia Harvie, Gogi Dance Collective.
Scott Belzner Photography.

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