Make Your Own World
Tuesday 12th March, 2019
North Melbourne Town Hall
Presented as part of Dance Massive 2019
Choreographer: Lucy Guerin with the dancers
Dancers: Tra Mi Dinh, Benjamin Hancock, Rebecca Jensen, Alisdair Macindoe, Jessie Oshodi, Lilian Steiner
Composer: Daniel Jenatsch
Lighting Designer: Paul Lim
Costume Designer: Andrew Treloar
Five minutes late to the world premiere of Lucy Guerin’s Make Your Own World and I had to wait to be admitted into the Magic Theatre of the North Melbourne Town Hall.
Together with a handful of latecomers, we waited by the door. Our timing marked us a group. Some of us bristled at being painted tardy: “Locked out!? How rude!” Me, I believe it added to my excitement: what awaited me behind the door? How quickly would my eyes adjust to the transition from foyer’s glare to theatre’s embrace? But above all: what was I missing? We’d come from the 6.45pm session of Paul White and Narelle Benjamin’s Cella at the Meat Market located around the hind leg corners of North Melbourne. We’d not been at Cella together, and yet, now, in our lateness, we had. We’d raced from one venue to the next, and owing to the first performance finishing later than scheduled and the second starting on time, we were a group. How fitting, given that Make Your Own World Visible is “inspired by groups, communities and societies in flux…. through timing and spatial formations”.[i]
ENTRANCE NOT FOR EVERYBODY”[ii]
I do not know what I missed as I felt my way in the dark. (I do know that I stepped on a few toes of the people sitting in the back row as I clambered to the furthest seat in the theatre. And I know that in arriving late to the larger, seated group, I was on the outer once more. In flux, indeed, this belonging.) Yes, dropping away the realities and constraints of physical time and space, I do not know what I missed, but I was free, after all, to make up the beginning to my “Own World”. Invitation accepted and impulse taken, I was time-muddled within the pages of Hermann Hesse’s novel Der Steppenwolf (1927) in Dance Massive 2019.
“I can throw open to you no picture-gallery but your own soul. All I can give you is the opportunity, the impulse, the key. I help you to make your own world visible. That is all.”[iii]
That is all. And that is more. Between states. On the stage Tra Mi Dinh, Benjamin Hancock, Rebecca Jensen, Alisdair Macindoe, Jessie Oshodi, and Lilian Steiner were improvising, making decisions “in the moment, their unique, individual qualities and their thoughts firing their movements”.[iv]
As with Der Steppenwolf, life within Make Your Own World “oscillate[d], as everyone’s does, not merely between two poles, such as the body and the spirit, the saint and the sinner, but between thousands and thousands”. And so, for Guerin, the beauty and urgency of the unpredictable improvisation of the dancers hummed alongside the “controlled, repeatable experience for the audience. … [forming] a dialogue between these two ways of making dance: the known in discussion with the unknown, the past with the present, the imposed with the spontaneous”, the formal and the informal. Between thousands and thousands of articulations, movements, formations, and the reading of them, the “inner personal worlds of each unique dancer …. co-exist with[in] the collective formations of the whole”. From microphone crackle to hushed tones, big arcs to small pulses, dense to scattered, hard to soft, quick to measured movements, a layered, marvellous whole.
Seeing Hancock, Macindoe, Oshodi, Steiner, Jensen, and Dinh (Jensen and Dinh in their first work with Lucy Guerin Inc.) map their own spaces and expand their worlds, sometimes connecting with each other in various pairings and groupings, was joyful. Their fluid pairings reflected the world as I feel it to be and as such felt true and refreshing. Hancock and Dinh formed a pair in blush-pink jodhpurs, and later Dinh and Oshodi, linked arm in arm, formed a pair. In twos, threes, fours, fives, and as a whole, thousands and thousands of possible formations. If we are making our own worlds, let it be one where everyone is represented and everyone is valid.
In sea-greens and pearl-pinks, fluorescents, and a block of gold in the form culottes worn by Macindoe, the costuming by Andrew Treloar reflected the overall sense of hope I felt throughout the performance. The changeable sound composition by Daniel Jenatsch extended the terrain to explore, from a stadium to the jungle beyond: behind the roar of the crowd, did I hear a big cat pad closer? Seated as I was up in the back corner, furthest from the door, for one glorious moment I was able to see what the search light of lighting designer Paul Lim saw. It tickled the necks of those in the rows before me, and appeared to blind those that spun around, but from where I sat, it burned through me.
As the dancers joined together and transformed into a sea urchin on the stage floor as sea bed, I thought: thank-you for the key to make my own world visible.
[i] Lucy Guerin, artist statement, Make Your Own World Visible, Dance Massive 2019 Arts House program, 2019, p. 9.
[ii] Hermann Hesse Der Steppenwolf (Melbourne: Penguin Press, 2009), p. 49.
[iii] Der Steppenwolf, p. 204.
[iv] Lucy Guerin, Dance Massive 2019 Arts House program, 2019
Image credit: Lucy Guerin Inc perform Make Your Own World, by Pippa Samaya