By Leah Vlatko
Coinciding with the excitement of Pride Festival, the opening night of the MoveMe Improvisation Festival was everything one would expect from a beautiful celebration of dance, music, and performance creativity. Comprising of innovative contemporary dance and elements from all disciplines, if the first night is anything to go by: this festival is not to be missed.
Kicking things off with a bang, MC Sam Longley warmed up the crowd with a comedic sketch addressing the question, “What is improvisation?” (through, of course, improv). The audience rose to the challenge set by this veteran of the Perth theatre scene, providing words at Longley’s behest and laughing as he incorporated them into a monologue. Stipulating that the audience was central to improvisation, Longley cultivated the notion, carried throughout the night, that the public was witnessing private moments.
The first of the two shows for the evening, ‘Beast #3’, featured a mesmerising dance performance that encompassed contemporary style, improvisation, and a unique self-awareness that captivated and amazed the audience. The shared energy between the dancers carried each move into existence, and was beautifully intimate. The piece began with two dancers conversing on a step. Explaining that they were, “still looking for a song,” they launched into a silent routine characterised by cyclical steps and movements. Navigating that space somewhere between tension and release, the piece grew in sound, depth, and in the number of dancers occupying the space. With a rotating cast of eight, and a changing wardrobe of black and white, this show (which is the third mutation of Jo Pollitt and Paea Leach’s side by side song cycle of movement), stood out as a very different approach to dance.
At the conclusion of this piece came a twenty-minute interval, and the thrill of the community out and about for Pride Festival made for a colourful and exciting PICA Bar experience. Contrary to those who advocate WA’s stereotype as a ‘sleepy’ destination, I witnessed countless people going to countless events in celebration of acceptance and the arts.
The second show of the night, No-one will tell us…, is an intimate encounter between four artists, the audience, and on this Saturday night, a moth. Rosalind Crisp, Andrew Morrish, Hansueli Tischauser, and Marco Wehrspann all united to create an experience that was both deeply personal and collaborative. Opening with a spotlight on Crisp in the back corner, the piece deconstructed and analysed movement, and its silence intensified the drawn-out period of solitary dancing. The tension was high as the audience was let in on what felt like an immensely private ritual. Her movement continued as Tischauser took to the stage with his electric guitar and pedal boards, setting the mood with dreamy nostalgic chords embedded in a pool of fuzz. As they filled the space together, a presumably lonely moth joined the duet by chance, and Tischauser demonstrated the magic of improvisation as he incorporated chasing the moth into his routine. Morrish entertained with storytelling, taking the audience on an adventure through love and friendship; red dirt and no shoes. As the artists’ pursuits overlapped, the piece grew deeper. Whilst at times the piece was slow and tense, the layering of each art form was truly beautiful, and a very unique experience to behold.
Ultimately, the opening night of this festival was an intellectually stimulating and boundary-pushing experience. The performances scheduled to come will open your mind to the possibilities of improvisation and the creative potential of human beings, a must for any truly devoted dance/theatre lover.
The MoveMe Improvisation Festival runs until Sunday November 30, so ensure you make time to experience the wonderful performances on offer.
Photo Credit: Jakub Wittchen.