Strut / Maxine Doyle with Sarah Dowling 3

The last two weeks have been a peak experience for me.

I’ve made new friends, new collaborators, and I’ve really extended my technique as an artist.

I was so sad to leave the group… on Friday, we had a de-brief after the showing we performed on Thursday. We consolidated audience feedback and gave feedback to each other. We had a really touching “final improv” together at the end of the day… during which we physically went over things that we’d learnt and covered, or actually repeated some core experiences we had during the workshop.

It was particularly touching to take a “real life” experience and reenact and abstractify it. One night in the second week a group of us had gone out for dinner in Northbridge and walking back to get ice cream we passed a homeless aboriginal man who seemed to be passed out, shirtless, shoeless, in a pool of his own vomit. There were wounds on his back “his wings had been cut off”, Kynan said… we were forlorn about it, because he looked like he needed help… so I went to him and asked him if he was alright… when he came to, he told me he thought he was going to die, he was in so much pain, he’d been stabbed. I called an ambulance, and held him until they came. He told me he thought he was dreaming and that I was an angel.

Sarah began that movement with me and I got back to that very real experience again, but this time in a dance improv setting. The emotions came back, and the movements became an exploration, a deepening, of dreamlike transcendence from the horror of pain, vomit and destitution. Recalling it now I can’t remember if Sarah was being the angel or the destitute, at that point the group felt so connected that recalling experiences from a particular perspective is hard, it was such a deep shared experience.

One of my favourite lines from that final day, though, came from Dom, who’d said “I’ve been in this studio so much over so many years and I’d never ever seen that back door opened” (referring to the fire exit door, which was used very successfully by Carly, Dom and Amber during the showing). That was almost a metaphor for the whole 2 weeks.

By the end of Friday night, we discovered that only the single people were left in the group (Dom, Kynan, Dapheny and myself), and Sarah. Things were getting pretty surreal, as we kept dancing throughout drinks, then dinner, and dessert… repetition, games, movement games performed in the carpark, attracting attention, shying away from it.

I had brekky with Dapheny on Saturday, some further scheming for the future. Who knows where it'll end up. When we are together we just laugh and laugh and go deep into absurd abstractification whilst teetering on the edges of pedestrianist reality (or something to that effect).

...

So I'm now in Sydney, sitting with another choreographer, Dean, giving feedback on a few sections of his Arts NSW fellowship application (the deadline's tomorrow). Tomorrow he and I will join Guy in a studio in Sydney as we embark on the creation of a new work - exploring some very dark issues together. I'll be taking a few leafs out of Sarah's book in these next few days, take the red pill and just see how far the rabbit hole can really go...