Not much to say on this one as I unfortunately didn’t get to see the work itself…
Originally posted on The AU Review.
On View: Live Portraits is dance and live portraiture work that is set to push the boundaries and preconceptions of dance as an art form in a stunning work that weaves deftly between both live performance and recorded dance portraits. The AU discussed this visionary new work with its choreographer Sue Healey.
How is On View: Live Portraits unique as a piece of dance choreography?
With this work, the actual artist is the subject. Perhaps this makes it unusual. Essentially I want to show the dexterity and sheer genius of the dance artist – I believe that dance has always been under-played, under-valued, although central to our culture (we all move, or else we die). This work for me, celebrates the unique knowledges and diverse ways of thinking through the body that a dancer embodies. It highlights the skills of a dance artist in revealing complex constructions of identity and suggesting new ways of being. Dancers are masterly. They know how to be seen. They know how to see.
I also bring my filmic eye into the choreography. I’m interested in the subtle nuances that a close up or dynamic camera, or different perspective, can achieve. I have orchestrated the audience to both move around the choreography, as well as be seated, in the hope that an awareness of how we view is experienced.
How do you keep the balance between the live performance and recorded dance within the work?
It is a constant weighing-up of what form speaks the most eloquently for a given moment or idea. It is indeed a tricky balance – I shape and craft each moment, absolutely aware of the conflicting powers of the live body and the mediatised presence. Also, this work is about the dialogue that occurs between the cinematic and the live, so I am interested in the spaces between – the differences in how our perception alters when we read an image on a screen, or a real, breathing body. There are sections where I am also trying to fill the whole space with image, distorting and breaking away from the traditional flat picture plane surface. I hope this helps bridge the gap in our awareness of seeing space. Light is everything. Light in the cinematic image and light in the real space. Lighting designer Karen Norris is a key component to this – she activates the space around the screens illuminating the live bodies so that the dialogue can occur.
You mentioned that we are a screen-based culture, used to experiencing an overwhelming deluge of moving images daily. How has this shaped your choreography for On View?
This is a great question and at the heart of my enquiry. Because we are saturated with images and screen information, I feel it is my responsibility to be very accurate with the imagery, rather than just add to the cacophony. It makes me hone my ideas, filtering out the unnecessary, and refining what is essential.
How do you help the dancers to embrace your vision for the choreography and the final performance?
We talk and share ideas and trust each other. This artform is a true collaboration. There needs to be utter respect between artists for the magic to appear and I do believe that we have this in this production. All collaborators; dancers, composers, lighting designer, cinematographer, production staff, presenters and producers, bring their skill to the mix. I am not sure politicians understand just how incredible the Arts are in this respect. If our economy was run in a similar fashion I believe we would be in a far better place than we are now.
What was it like to work in collaboration with Judd Overton for the new work?
Amazing. This collaboration is at the core of this work. Every project I have created with this artist is eye-opening and empowering. He enables me to take risks, through his belief that my ideas might hold some merit…and I am so grateful for his skill and problem-solving (which is legendary). We have had some great adventures around the world filming dancers.
You are well known for working as a dance visionary across many mediums- galleries, theatres, tradition and non-traditional venues. How do you approach each of these?
Space is the issue for me – I love dealing with the specifics of any given space and context that is offered to me. I believe that this is the key to all my work…creating the right work for the right space for the right context. Give me a space and I will relish in the task of creating something moving and meaningful for it.
And finally, what do you hope audiences will take away from the On View: Live Portraits?
Look at a portrait in a different way.
Think about creating their own portrait – of someone or themselves.
Really see something – go deeper than the surface.
See that our identities contain many shifting layers.