Feature

A Review in Five Parts:

Keir Choreographic Award

By Alexandra McCallum

17 April, 2020

This piece is one of two articles commissioned in response to the 2020 Keir Choreographic Award, a national biennial award dedicated to innovative, experimental and cross-artform practices in contemporary dance. Both authors attended Claudia La Rocco’s writing workshop, where they were asked to consider how language lives in time and space—on the stage, the page, in the body and the mind. 
The four finalists for the Keir Choreographic Award were Angela Goh, Amrita Hepi, Alison Currie & David Cross and The Farm. You can read Jazz Money’s response, Rinse, here.
 
 

1.

Hold me.
Hold me closer.
Don’t listen to the words I say
Or the words I display on my t-shirt.
Always another layer to strip
Always another argument
Between you and me,
Skin and skin.

Submerged together in sound
We are just our bodies—
You and I.
My feet, my heart, my brain
Are wet with music and
With German words that drip
Like satisfying sweat
Onto my tongue.
20 Hertz.
We pump faster
And above my heart I hear
Ich bin meine Machine.
I am my machine.
I think first not of the flesh machine on stage
But of my phone, my laptop.
My machines. Are they me? Am I them?
And then my hands, my head, my hips—
Mine yes, but not a machine.
Then there is no more space for words
No more space for anything
Between you and me
Skin on skin.

2.

Stop. You have been thinking of me on stage.
But that’s a lie.
I’m sitting in the front row.
Watching the sundial, the woman, the can of orange soft drink leaking onto white space.
From the blankness around her I know we are suspended
Outside ordinary time.
And the cap she’s wearing and the way she hides herself behind her hair
These things don’t re-start the world as we know it.
I worry at first that my brain is too full of Hollywood to see this properly.
If time travel were possible, happening at that exact moment,
Would I notice?
Or would I call it good lighting
And happily re-drink the coffee a stranger bought me
At 4pm and drip my way across the theatre a second time?
Instead I am sung backwards
And questions are pushed away by the force of sound
I watch her fall again
But fall differently.
And she sings out a response.
Lights flash red, green, blue.
I realise I am holding my breath.

3.

Dance is everywhere.
Everywhere that people move and pay attention.
Because there is care here and beauty in
The checking and laying out and smoothing.
All the rhythms of work we keep hidden.
But is this really so familiar?
What are the vinyl-covered boards and inflatable arms flailing.
Holes for our faces. Covered in thin film
Through which we could see but not breathe.
The worker sits down for a break and I wait for new terrors
This is not our world.
I want to know more.

4.

Listen. This is a story.
The story of a dancer
But not a dance about dance.
There is a difference.
This story is about Vienna and NAISDA.
About how the West tells its stories the loudest.
And how, in the beginning, you can inherit a dance from your ancestors
but think of it as ugly.
It’s about the work.
There are pauses here. Between the words and movement.
And questions about the body
As this body moves in space
Can you quiet your mind and listen
To the beginning?

5.

And afterwards. Something else began.
A time in which I would not be wandering out into foyers
And eating cheese from shared plates.
And yet, you are reading this, you are here.
Our bodies are here.
And our words are touching.

 

Angela Goh, Sky Blue Mythic (2020) 
Keir Choreographic Award, Carriageworks 
Image Credit: Zan Wimberley 

 

Author’s Note: I am indebted to The Farm for the German dialogue and to Amrita Hepi (Bundjulung (AUS) and Ngāpuhi (NZ)) for the phrases ‘the West tells its stories the loudest’ and ‘a dance about dance.’