By Jazz Money

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 Alexandra McCallum’s response, A Review in Five Partshere.


“When something is about to end 
It’s funny
We begin to want to save it.”
– Amrita Hepi, Rinse

the last time I left the house
before I couldn’t leave the house anymore
before none of us could leave the house
the last time I was in a crowd
            was to see people dance
dance the thing we used to do with one another
watching or pressed together
and now is done in isolation
watching or pressed apart
the way a lounge room can become a stage
or a desk chair can feel like a hug
from a pixelated friend
the dance then
the one with a stage
one with many seats and a crowd of people
enough people gathered
that the increasing cries of pandemic
could be forgotten for one last night

            watching the way the lights change
            which changes the dancer
            which changes you as you watch the dancer change

a choreography competition

it seems sophisticated
less like youtube and more like walking
into a warm mouth
where the thing that a moment ago
now has teeth
now can spit

it’s about movement I suppose
or humanity
or about how movement changes us
about what unites us

            and remembering
            what brings us together
            as bodies
            as bodies that no longer touch

the keir prize reminded that dance is something I touch through a veil
that I can feel the answer
even if I cannot see it
cannot find the words

dance and poetry sit together like that
they take a language we know
and make the form the messenger and the message

remembering the stage
I remember amrita
the final performance
she recites and creates
beginnings and beginnings and endings and beginnings
to remember her that night is to remember
an end of one time and the beginning of another
the final moments of then
the beginning of now

she moves and she becomes
hers is a body that is soliloquy
a voice amplified fills the room

she begins

“In the beginning there are worlds and worlds ending. 
In the beginning there is, and always was, ancestors.”

there is a locating a placing a recognising
typical blakfella
always starting with introductions
long yarns about
who we are who raised us where we came from

            we only become who we are
            because those before us brought us here

of course
whitefellas try to acknowledge things
but they do it wrong
they say
            before we begin I’d like to pay my respects
not understanding
that there isn’t a time before it begins
it has all already begun

and so
amrita moves through
a black box stage

we begin with an individual
            with a body
a womxn’s body
with a womxn of colour’s body
a first nations body

we begin with a body
in space alone
filling the space alone
in a crowd

together she invites us
we circle through beginnings

those words written alone
become the whole room
a brave vulnerable space
of solo of self

a shared breath

of personal history
of context
of matter and mass
sex and pain

            a personal history that we all share in our way
this one is hers alone to tell
a circle of beginnings

a body that tells a history
and the remembered transmissions
of all that body has been and done

open yourself
become transparent
let the audience see into you
without an object to hide with
no set to share the gaze with
just the words as a scaffold
your person as medium

watching something being pulled out
pulls something out of all of us
a connection
a moment of fusing
coming together
we all have a history
a beginning
we’re so predictable
we all must start somewhere
and somewhere before that something starts

            dancers are remarkable like that
            the way that they are so possible
            so human
            and yet
            those human bodies do impossible things

they let us in
to feel beginnings and endings
truths that become embodied
and for a moment
            everyone in the crowd shares a single breath

amrita alone on the stage
and we’re alone with her
in our homes in our rooms
we’re alone
            together in all this
in the midst of another beginning

I remember the crowd and the wonder
of the black stage illuminating a blak body
            and I remember that this was just the end of something
            and soon we’ll all be beginning
together again

“In the beginning you can wonder where the work is, and you realise the work is everywhere.”


Amrita Hepi, Rinse (2020) 
Keir Choreographic Award, Carriageworks 
Image Credit: Zan Wimberley