As part of the Dance Massive festival which opens this week, Theatre People spoke to Anouk van Dijk about her collaborative new show ANTI-GRAVITY, working with Ho Tu Nyen, the movement Countertechnique she has been developing, and the Dance Massive festival experience.

“Within ANTI—GRAVITY, we go from representations of clouds through dance and visual design to actually experiencing the cloud; having it surround us so deeply that it actually clutters our vision” said van Dijk.

“The creative process for this show was a highly collaborative one and we were very lucky to be surrounded by amazing and highly experienced artists such as visual artist and film maker Ho Tu Nyen, Lighting Designer Paul Jackson, Composer Jethro Woodward and Costume Designer Harriet Ozley”, she said.

“The whole team created a stunning world made of an array of lights, projections, textures and props that performers inhabit and animate, and that audience will get to experience in a unique way”.

She got in touch with Tzu after she had seen several of his visual art works.

 “I was particularly fascinated by his work The Cloud of Unknowing, a film installation and immersive work around the role of clouds. On further discussion we felt that it would be really interesting to collaborate together and see how we could use this particular work as a springboard and explore how these ideas could translate into dance” she said on her collaboration with the film maker.

Van Dijk wanted to encourage the audience to experience and respond to the work with their own associations and interpretation.

­­“There is no story line in a theatrical sense but our investigation into the iconography of clouds represented throughout art history, has resulted into a series of visually stimulating scenes around our yearning to break free from earth bound restraints” she said.

This kind of yearning is the driver between the work and formed the building blocks for the choreography.

“The title of ANTI—GRAVITY comes from this duality between yearning for elevating yourself both physically and mentally and the impossibility to do so as we are always gravity bound. From a scientific place ANTI—GRAVITY is a concept that has been researched but there’s vary to no proof scientifically that it is actually possible that an object would have no longer any forces of gravity on them” said van Dijk.

Van Dijk is the Artistic Director of Chunk Move, and has been teaching dance since 1989.

“The dancers I choose to work with come from very different dance backgrounds and bring their own unique performance quality, but they all share a talent for fluid and fast movement”, she said.

“The six dancers in ANTI—GRAVITY include Tara Jade Samaya and Niharika Senapati, who have been working with Chunky Move for many years, as well as Luigi Vescio who joined the Company in 2015. There are also three new dancers joining the team: James Batchelor, Marlo Benjamin and Sarah Ronnie Bruce, who all have previous associations to Chunky Move but are new for me in a performance context”.

 Van Dijk is also the creator of dance style Countertechnique.

 “I like dancers that fully surrender themselves on stage. It allows us to go on a journey with them. This often results in highly physical choreography, and Countertechnique, the movement method I developed over years of extensive investigations into how a body can move with less effort, allows dancers to go further than they think”, she said.

“The extreme awareness they develop by applying Countertechnique trains the dancers for longevity, allowing them to have the stamina and perform physically demanding choreography including jumps, falls and lush movement without ‘damaging’ their bodies”

 This is her third work for Dance Massive, with 247 Days in 2013 and Depth of Field in 2015 both co-presented with Malthouse Theatre.

“Depth of Field was quite a different experience for us and audiences members too as it was a site-specific work performed on the forecourt outside of our building with the city as backdrop. As the dancers performed in these unique and vast surroundings, the audience wearing headphones, got to experience a glorious autumn sun set over Melbourne. It’s a very different experience to come back to the intimacy of the theatre but a relief not to have to worry about the weather forecast!” she reflected.

Don’t miss ANTI-GRAVITY, running 17 – 26 March. More information and tickets at: http://dancemassive.com.au/program/anti-gravity/

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