Men of the Red Earth, was the title of the Future Landings project in the Pilbara that included performances by 7 local men in two locations, Point Samson and Karratha for the Red Earth Arts Festival on 18 & 20 September 2013.
Overturning stereotypes was what this project was all about. This performance culminated in a man abseiling head first from a crane to the stage, then ascending again with another dancer for an ironic aerial ballet – a little dig at the untrue stereotype that ‘footy players in tutus’ was the extent of men dancing in the Pilbara.
The dancers who came from a range of backgrounds – tradesmen, managers, scientists and a drag queen – wanted to show that there was more to being a bloke in the Pilbara than just drinking beer.
The performance opened with a film by local artist Tangiora Hinaki featuring Xena, the drag queen, simply walking along the highway, the vision is interrupted by a series of text messages, all actually received by participants, that express ’surprise’ (but in more colourful language) at the idea of men dancing.
Karratha choreographer Megan Wood-Hill and her mentor, Perth-based Jacob Lehrer have facilitated an empowering creative process that embraced the challenges and celebrated the sheer fun of being a man of the Pilbara.
Local businesses got behind the project with all manner of heavy equipment being provided free like buses, the crane and a donga used for the set. The project attracted extensive media interest with local, state and national media running stories.
In an interview on ABC regional radio one project participant, Fonda, described how the Men of the Red Earth project had embraced him fully, making space for both Fonda and Xena (his drag queen persona). When asked by the reporter what he had got out of the project Fonda said, “new friends and a sense of belonging and everyone in that dance group has pushed their boundaries and really, really come together. It is one of the most amazing things I have ever been a part of.”
Megan Wood-Hill – Choreographer
Megan grew up in Karratha passionate about dance. Completing a Bachelor of Commerce, Megan has developed her dance career alongside a career in market research and commerce. She has worked as a dance teacher and performer in South Korea, Japan and Australia. Megan independently established Ovation Performance Company in 2010. With the assistance of Aboriginal dance leader, Michael Leslie, Megan created the first local ‘boys only’ ballet class. Megan choreographed, Heat, which for Michael Leslie’s Spin FX Youth Festival in October 2010 in Roebourne, WA. Megan was supported by Ausdance WA’s Regional Professional Development Fund to participate in the Regional Dance-makers Choreographic Lab in 2012.
Jacob Lehrer – Mentor
Jacob has performed with Strange Fruit, DV8 (UK), Lucy Guerin and Chunky Move, Shelley Lasica, Legs on the Wall, State of Flux and Sue Healey Company. In December 2004 he wrote, performed and produced a play, Homunculus, at La Mama, which was remounted in November 2005 at the Malthouse Theatre. The beginning of 2006 saw him working on the Stephen King series Nightmares and Dreamscapes as personal movement coach to actor William Hurt. Jacob is one half of davidandjacob.com their show Excavate – A two-man dig premiered at the Australian Choreographic Centre, as part of the Canberra Theatre subscription season. Excavate was nominated at the Australian Dance Awards and was toured, in part, to The Movement Research Festival in New York 2006. David and Jacob also presented The Boys – 10 Men Dancing for the Melbourne International Arts Festival. Most recently Jacob was commissioned by Ochre Dance Company’s to choreograph works for their inaugural season Diaphanous. Jacob was a mentor artist for Ausdance WA’s Future Landings 2011.