07 Aug Co:Youth’s Project NEXT: Dual Perspectives
Guest contributors Dana Nguyen and Ariane Beyer provide unique responses to Co3 Australia’s recent Co:Youth production, Project NEXT.
Response 1: An Audience Member’s Perspective.
Co3’s Act-Belong-Commit Co:Youth ensemble presented Project NEXT on Saturday 15 July 2017, performed in All Saints College’s Centre for Performing Arts. Using four of the Company’s acclaimed works as a stimulus, the ensemble was asked to reimagine these pieces to create their own choreography under the leadership of Ella-Rose Trew, Isabella Stone, Andrew Searle and Laura Boynes. The works burst with energy, and challenged audiences to see artistic, technical and thematic concepts through the eyes of the next generation.
The first of the four works, 518UMT, inspired by Larissa McGowan’s Transducer was a contrasting and imaginative look at the transference of energy and its sources. Ella-Rose Trew’s choreographic leadership triggered the dancers to stretch, roll and shiver evoking images of kinetic, electric and frictional energy. The skilled youngsters were able to freely switch between fluid and rigid movements and showed a mature and professional stage presence.
The second piece You, Me, Us, We was a reimagining of Unkempt Dance’s Paper, Scissors, Rocket! under the choreographic guidance of Isabella Stone. The piece examined the idea of togetherness and ‘play’ through the eyes of children. The timing, technique, control and fluidity of movement displayed by the dancers was exceptional and only added to the heart-warming and sometimes humorous performance. Audiences found themselves smiling and laughing as the dancers built a fort, ran piggyback races, played imaginary games and pulled silly faces. A highlight was the innate sense of joy displayed by the dancers as they interacted with one another, reminding audiences of the core theme: the basic human need for companionship, and the feeling of togetherness through play.
Passage drew inspiration from Raewyn Hill’s The Gates, and Rodin’s sculpture The Gates of Hell, both of which describe the struggle and fight to avoid the descent to the seventh circle. The choreography, led by Andrew Searle truly captured the eerie beauty of struggle as the dancers gracefully floated in suspended motions dressed in long black gowns. The piece held juxtaposing images of evangelism, tragedy, sadness and beauty similar to Rodin’s sculpture and its literary source, The Divine Comedy: Inferno by Dante.
The final piece, based on Sydney Dance Company and Co3 Australia’s Crazy Times originally created by Antony Hamilton was choreographed under the direction of Laura Boynes. Non Compus Mentis evoked images of evolution, aliens and the discovery of new lands yet similar to the original work it could be freely interpreted by the audience. Animalistic, dehumanised and primal movement contrasted sharply with images of uniquely human moments such as practices of worship. The rapid evolution of ideas and images offered a look at the history of our planet and humankind as a species with a somewhat ambiguous conclusion.
Project NEXT was a program that exceled in demonstrating the rich talent and outstanding perspective of Perth’s future dancers and performance makers. The occasion itself held a sense of ceremony, as though passing down a legacy to the next generation, and it served as a reminder to continue to encourage and nurture the youth as the next generation of leaders, workers, carers and thinkers.
Captivating, beautiful and inspiring, Project NEXT affirmed the talent of the Co:Youth ensemble as well as Co3’s ability to build a bright future for youth dance.
– Dana Nguyen, Guest Writer for Ausdance WA
Response 2: A Performer’s Perspective.
Project NEXT was my third major season with the Act Belong Commit Co:Youth Ensemble, and the program was devised from re-imaginings of four previous Co3 works. My group You, Me, Us, We, under the direction of independent artist Isabella Stone, worked from Paper, Scissors, Rocket! by Unkempt Dance. The work was originally created for a regional primary school tour to the South West region in August 2016.
Working from existing repertoire was definitely an interesting process. It was certainly nice to have a backdrop to fall upon in sticky moments or when you are looking for inspiration, but it can often feel inhibiting in exploring new ideas. In re-imagining the work there was an interesting balance between keeping what made the original work brilliant and also creating something new. Through the process of improvisation and tasking, we naturally formed ideas, themes and conventions as a group that meant we were able to build on the magic of the original work and make it our own.
Personally, what made the process really interesting was the age range of dancers. I am currently the oldest at 18 and our youngest dancer Cassie is 7. When I started at Co3 I was hesitant about working with the younger dancers, but it is now my favourite part! This structure is often discussed in terms of the younger dancers, having role models and being able to learn from older dancers. What is not discussed is what we can learn from the younger dancers. They bring an energy and a joy to the studio that really enhances the work. You, Me, Us, We is a joyful work, which you don’t often get in the world of contemporary dance, and having the younger dancers involved made it a lot easier to tap into the fun and play of the work.
– Ariane Beyer, Act-Belong-Commit Co:Youth dancer