Thursday, June 9, 2011

A photographer's point of view

Heidrun Lohr, you have spent 20 years photographing performance, dance and theatre, but this is the first time you've experienced working with Restless Dance has that been for you?

Just wonderful. But wonderful in the sense of the word....full of wonder.

I think it is the richness, the layeredness, the other worldliness that the performers created in this time in Bundanon, and how the place informed this work...and probably the place also created a certain feel. Sometimes it was quite ancient.

So for me for instance, disability was something that was really in the background, I noticed it of course, visually, but it was very much in the background. I think because it was the material...because the subject and what you're working on is not based on disability, and working through that, but it has a subject matter which is totally different. For example, the habitat comes up again and again. Talking with Dean there was habitat, which was a strong theme, visually. When they sit somewhere and find their place, whether it was in the studio or outside, when they get out of the cocoons, was like the habitat of creatures. So the place of where you have been working is very dominate in the work. Its very beautiful... its stunning.

What I talked about yesterday, is what is quite special about Restless is the sincerity and the focus of the performers, especially Matthew. There is such a dedication and sincerity which is quite profound and in this sense also very moving for the audience.

Were you surprised by anything?
Yeah I think I was by the performances and by the richness of the material and also the many ideas that came together.

You've worked with Dean on a number of occasions, how does this work compare to his work elsewhere?
Usually I come in at a dress rehearsal, but here we spent two days with the company and just to see him working as a choreographer was revealing. I think how he worked with the performers is beautiful. He doesn't want to shy away from disability and he has a desire to learn, to expand and deal with the challenge of working with different artists. I enjoyed his way of observing, his calmness and enthusiasm and tireless energy, also the surprise and curiosity. The curiosity of working with these performers and working in this place Bundanon.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

I am a tree

Elizabeth responds to a task about her experience of a tree in the paddock. Here's what she wrote:

I have the beginnings

I am the start

I have been here since the beginning and I will be here at the end

I can see

I can see all things

I can feel and I can become

I can become

I came from you and you came from me

I will move like you because I see you

I am becoming

I have become

I will be



A reflection

A rock that has been there forever and is ready to move

The end.

He has witnessed many things in his days


Is inheritantly wise

Living at his best

Comes naturally to him

He has witnessed many things in his days

Many secrets are stored in his limbs

He leaves the leaves whisper

They whisper to the wind





Husshhhhhh hush hush

I will tell you some things if you would listen

I have lullaby for you just for you

I was here before you were born and I will be here after you were gone

I like that you are looking at me

That you all see me

That you have me in your sights

I am John

I am your relative

I am your father

I am your great grandfather

I am your distant uncle

I am your forgotten brother

I am all of you

And you are all of me



A tree

The End.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The wilderness within

Dean Walsh debriefs today's rehearsal. There have been some very arresting images arising out of the dancer's work. His ideas about where In-habit is heading is becoming clearer. Dean explains where his thoughts are at this final stage of the Bundanon residency.

When I feel the image come on I just like to let it have its space. I don’t want to claim it or own it. I sometimes just work instinctively, that’s why I like setting up parameters so that the performers have their space to perform using their imaginings. Then it comes time for me to say, "We’ve been talking about this device and appendages that inhibits, mutates or adapts the body and how does this group inhabit those inhibitions. How does this group inhabit the inhibition?" So sometimes I'm going, “god there are images coming to me", so I put it in the space other than in my head and often people start to dream with you because of the image you’ve presented, so to claim it as you own straight away inhibits people to dream into something you’ve constructed.

Apart form the straps being used straps for yoga, how do they become binds between us and nature? So Matt’s story about these bindings that inhibited his movements I felt was a really good chance to have a look at being and forcing a particular nature, another nature onto someone else’s nature. We’re force fusing these branches onto Matt, Dana and Elizabeth’s hands which is kind of provocative, which I like but I cant answer why... it’s just striking. There's a blinding conflict which looks like its growing under that image …man vs. wild, and that wilderness is not just outside, its inside ourselves. Its man going wild, so people form these survivor shows and there's approaching conflict…and so it’s like this kind of forced fusion.

Its like a scientific medical experiment gone wrong – were going to fuse our bones to the bones of trees, (an unnatural force) and then put you into the world and see how you feel. It forces adaptation. Mankind is continually increasing a forced adaptation on so many species because we’re encroaching on natural environments and the habitats of species until they are forced to adapt or mutate at a much faster rate than evolution has done before.

What is an adaptation to the wilderness? Not just the wilderness out there, but also the wilderness in each of us. Wilderness is a metaphor for emotional state of interaction, psychological interaction. It’s like the emotional weather between people, the emotional climate between people and the emotional and psychological habitats that we have to adapt all the time and potentially mutate our sense of self in order to fit in.

The Outdoors

This is a little story by Jianna which she wrote about the outdoors at Bundanon.

Talking bushes
Sense, feel, smell, touch etc... we hear, see feelings, nature. We all relaxed outside. Bushes were here, birds chirping, trees, wind blowing through the leaves. It looks like walking in the dark in the bushes. There were animals in the bushes. Some of them came in the dark with the torch walking through the bushes. There was a talking bushes. I thought sleeping under the stars (a bit like camping). I saw a temple, there were lots of monkeys running around.

The were trees talking, bit like in the forest. It was dark. I couldnt see anything. There were lots of lights in the bushes. I saw houses in the bushes, bit like a haunted house. I thought it was raining and I got a bit wet. There was a shelter. Wind blowing the trees and I brought music to dance to.

Went for a walk in the bushes. I hear nimals far away. Plants, stones, rocks, leaves, trees, bushes, cows, sheep, sky weather, sun, bark from trees, mud, big, huge, small, tiny, plane, jets, clouds and I can smell herbs. I see things. I hear sand and ocean.

Jianna's journal stories.

Dancer Jianna Georgiou reflects on her daily activities and tasks. She writes notes in her journal after each session and at the end of each day. Below are some of her entries and creative writing tasks set by Dean.

Friday 3rd June
Walking Line
The grass is wet and moist. It makes me itchy. The sun burns me like fire. I hear birds chirping in the trees and it blows me away. I fell like an animal in the farm. It makes me drown in the river. I smelt the river smooth and quiet.

Tree Call
The tree is part of nature - it stays there for a long time. It comes from 1981. The tree has very long legs and arms and spine like a strong trunk. It catches leaves off the grass. The wind blows the leaves off the branch. The tree was dancing in the dark. There's a light around all the trees.

Questions that Dean asked about the tree:
Q: How old is this tree?
A: It came from a very long time.

Q: What year or century did this tree arrive here?
A: A long time ago - ages ago.

Q: If this tree was a person, what sort of person would it be? (what is this tree's personality?)
A: It's not a person. it's a womping willow. It has a long spine, has a hole, and it has a light inside.

Q: What are all the textures?
A: Its very colourful and bright. It shines like a sun. Its like a light bulb.

Q: If I was related to this tree, who would the tree be? (uncle or auntie, grandmother or grandfather, brother or sister?)
A: The tree is related to other trees. It calls. It has a family and friends.

The water felt like ice. It was like leather. My feet feels the sand - the sand feels nice and light. The water feels like a waterfall. My feet feels really hot. The water feels my feet really hot and cold.

Blindfold Game
I felt the grass moving and it tickles me. The wind blows me into the grass. I thought I stepped on poos. It smelt weird and gross. My feet feels the grass peaceful and sound. The trees swaying. I hear voices of clapping. Miranda and Philip are doing duets on the grass. She placed the grass etc...the wind blows the grass on me. Philip, Dana, Matt and Miranda, doing monkey business - they are flocking birds. They are marching like a watchman - it looks like they're pooing. (Jianna is laughing hysterically about this)

We did other tasks then we had lunch outside for a picnic which was really nice. Then we all walked back, then we had dinner and got to bed.

Q: If I was a superhero, who might I be?
A: I would be a thorn lady. There is a slim dress/it's a red dress in the background, there's a green thorn. Karate and the thorn spits.

Running up the hill
The grass was wet. It felt funny, smelt funny. The sense was clear. The sun felt really hot - it makes me shakey. It smelt like different poos. (Jianna cracks herself up again) The sky felt cold and icey. The grass tastes funny. I vomit. It looks like poos makes me vomit. My feet felt the grass wet, the rain was hot - it really burns me. First I looked around and then I stayed. I got wet by the rain. I was an ape and the ape died by eating the animals.

Stories about how I adapted:
When I have Down syndrome I have friends. I have a disability different to normal. Its because its not the same - it's just I want to be normal, to be different and in a good way so I can be polite to people.

Saturday 4th June

I felt my feet floating in the sand. The water looks like sunset. I felt like being an angel on the sand. The sand feels like sunset.

Sunday 5th June
We all slept in and had breaky and I stayed and the other people went to see the whales splashing. Then we had a sandwich for lunch and I spent all day on my laptop. Then we relaxed then the others came back for dinner, then we all went to bed.

Monday 6th June
We all woke up, had breakfast then we went for a walk and we did blindfold dance/animal dance, then came back for lunch and worked with Dean. Then we had a break then we all had dinner plus dessert, then we went to bed.

Tuesday 7th June
We all woke up and did some warm up then we had breakfast, then we worked with Dean. After we had lunch and had an interview with Regina from Bundanon, then we worked in the studio. Then we had a rest in the house. Then we had dinner which was a really nice curry, it was a little bit hot but I liked it. Then we all went to bed after that.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Sensory work

Life's a beach of a working day. The dancers recall their experience on the pristine Murrays Beach.

Matt Shilcock:

We piled up and spent a few hours at this beautiful secluded beach, which was probably the most beautiful beach I had seen. We did a few activities like imagining we were washed up on the shore and imagined how we would look. We climbed up on a big old dead tree and imagined that the tree was part of our environment and we became part of it. We did some slow walking on slippery rocks which was exciting.

As much as I love climbing rocks, I'm very cautious and over conscious of where I'm putting my feet and I really overthink how I'm walking on rocks coz I'm forever slipping over. It was a really good experience of letting go of that and focusing solely on where I was - my surrounds and things in the distance and getting a sense of the rocks with my feet being the sole input of where and how I was standing.

And after we climbed and explored for a bit - we did a fantastic blindfold exercise where we broke into groups. One member of the group was blindfolded while the others took them on a sensory journey. When I was blindfolded I had a little while to just stand there and get a feel of the air around me and the sand beneath my feet, what sounds I could hear, what smells I could smell.

I started to wonder in this experience who I was, where I was and what I was. I was then led by the hand to a bush and I started to feel this bush and how it felt in my hand. The different textures with the bark and the leaves - I think it was a bottlebrush. And then I was led away from there and whispered into my ears were some strange almost spiritual sounding noise. I was led down to a log which I was leant against and was given a head massage, buried in the sand and given a rock and was told it was the entire world and told to reflect on that.

I began to really experience the weight of the rock and the textures of it and I imagined if this rock really was the world, was it a burden to me in some way or was it something that I enjoyed holding and being with and experiencing. It was the taken away and I was given what felt surprisingly like it was a walking stick and I was told that I was the old salty fisherman. I was led by the stick. The more steps I took the more I began to believe I was the old salty fisherman. I began imaging the life the fisherman lived. All the things he had done and seen, the women he had loved and the ambitions he had still left to fulfill. Then it was time to die and I felt a little bit sad that I would be leaving this fisherman because I felt like I had a lot more left to experience in his life even though he was quite old. I was given 20 cents and then I was buried.

There was a good moment there where I experienced everything around me... the textures the sounds and smells and I reflected on the journey I had been taken on. It was almost overwhelming when I took the blindfold off and returned to the real world. I had become so wrapped up in this fantasy of the fisherman and just really focused on my senses other than sight that when it was returned to me and I was invited to step back into the real world, it was like waking up from a really good dream you're enjoying. I wanted to cling to that fantasy a little bit longer. I had never done anything like this before.

I then joined the rest of the group and caused mischief to our victims.

A day in the life of a dancer's day off

North-migrating humpback whales were the centre of attention today on Jervis Bay for some of the Restless dancers. Here are some their accounts.

Matt tells about his experience from dusk til dawn.
It was extremely exciting. I got up early this morning about 5am and got myself ready to go for a hike down to the river where we spent Friday. I wanted to watch the sun come up over the river. It was quite exciting on the walk and I took my bamboo stick with me to feel for wombat holes. I took my little torch as well but mostly kept it off and only used it when I needed it. The light was just starting to peak over the hills. It was almost the same sort of light as early evening.

I was walking down the stony dirt path and ticking away with my bamboo stick and I heard a little rustling and thumping next to me on my right. To my left I heard click click click click click. So I stopped where I was and reached into my pocket to turn on my torch and I was standing in the middle of about eight really big kangaroos probably about 1.5m away. I was a bit scared cos they were standing tall upright as well and I heard their voice as well - that's the click click click thing. So I stood there for a second and looked at them and they looked at me and then after a bit they all turned away and jumped through the fence and into the next paddock. They squeeze between the wire.

So I got through the first gate and I totally forgot there was an electric fence there and I put my bamboo stick down on it and because it was wet it gave me a little spark which came out of the electric fence. The rest of the trip down to the river was quite uneventful. I came across a couple of wombat holes, had a look at them and journeyed on. When I got to the river the tide was out til about half way across, at least it was half as wide as I remember it from two days ago. The bank was quite muddy and boggy, so I didn't go too close to the edge. It was dark when I got there but the sun started peaking just over the hills and it was quite beautiful reflecting off the water.

There were some little footprints on the bank next to me. At first I thought it was a child's footprint, but then when I looked closer realised it was a wallaby or something. They sort of started just where I was standing and led a fair way up the bank and into the bush. After about 20 minutes of my standing there, I started to see a lot of fish swimming and breaching the surface and then started jumping as it got lighter. So I stood there and watched and listened to the sounds. When I could see very clearly I started to turn around and head back and on the trek back home I stopped here and there and thought about the things we did on Friday. That was really nice to look back and reflect on those experiences and think about the very new things I'd done. Like the blindfolding and walking barefoot across the prickly paddock.

When I got home I put a load of washing on and then I went to check out Arthur Boyd's homestead with Elizabeth and Miranda. I took some beautiful pictures of the lake which I found out was not a normal occurrence. It's usually just a gully but because of all the rain this year a lake was formed. I had a quick peak around the homestead before it was time to head off with the gang.

We went on a road trip to Huskisson and were privileged to go on a whale watching boat which was very exciting. We saw a pod of about eight whales as well as some dolphins and seals and a big old seabird called a Ganett. That was the first time I had seen whales. We were really close so it was really good bang for our buck. On the way home we saw some beautiful natural formations in the cliffs. It was a magical experience.