Situate was a residency supported by City Renewal Authority and Canberra’s iconic You Are Here.
In 2018 we undertook a week-long residency in the Canberra CBD to dig into our practice and process of site dance making. ie. How can we truly draw from, not impose on, site to amplify its spirit and engage its audiences? What performance is already there? What themes underlie its essence? A process of witnessing, receiving, responding and revealing this place to it self through movement.
We will be working 10-4 pm daily on site. Performances of developed scores and processes are as below.
We came to this adventure with the aim to explore and extend our practice in the public realm. To be immersed and informed by the goings on of time, place and people. Many questions arose from our experiences and even before we began. There were many ‘ great expectations, and then not so many. So rare it is for time and support to dig under the surface of how and why we are making, rather than making in the context of a paying audience or working to a concise concept and outcome. To do this, to allow liberty or abandon from these constraints, uncover its challenges, and bring it back in, together understanding why we might place certain limitations on things, is a process.
Situate was a challenging and revealing place for us to all enter. Individually and as a process for us as a group of dance artists and musicians. The path was unclear, the compass spinning wildly, so we had to create the tools to navigate it. What we termed “observing” became probably the key tool here. Beginning a tuning, noticing to the space passively and then much more actively. Sharing and exchanging of these excavated spatial discoveries was exciting. The noticing of what/where we were each drawn to receive and respond.
It became clear about two days in that we were falling into the rhythm of processes of operating creatively in situ, and to break them and try another way in was obvious, but how to do this, and break the organic flow was tricky. input from the group, new space and discussions around purpose, audience and intent enabled this. A liveliness and consciousness to all that we ‘decided’ to do or create were awakened in each moment. Each space brought both possibility and emptiness. A kind of truth of what it is and or what it might allow. The city’s concrete playgrounds were often uninviting spaces to feel free to move, yet each step, tile, or pavement, ie. what we were observing right there and now became digestible.
On the final day, we were inside, at an ‘event’ at New Acton, and were thrust into decisions of audience/performer politics. Do we do our thing? Do we consider their experience at all? What role does this kind of process/experimental work have in relation to the audience? This became a key question for the week. Because they are people of this place, but therefore are they audience or are they something different? A witness or observer perhaps of their own kind.
We reflect that this practice, is a practice, that must be practised. To do this at this time was vital for our developing work as a company whose practice is largely in and of place and site. To start to label/understand and then undo processes that we found is hugely important, as well as considerations of the type of work that we want to make in these contexts. Who is it for? What is it doing? and Why is it doing it? Do we need to know these answers? We seem to have arrived at the sense that yes, they are important to enable a way in, to allow reception and access for what we are doing. As ultimately, we want to be making work that is felt and experienced, not ignored and outcast. And that is the situation.
When: August 2018 Where: Garema Place, Bunda St, Petrie Plaza, City Walk, Civic Square, Bus Interchange, NewActon and Nishi Grand Staircase.
Olivia Fyfe, Alana Stenning, Steve Gow and Alison Plevey with musicians Tim Wickham, Alex Voorhoeve and Simon Milman