Development and plans...

I’m down at Sydney Dance company… I was here at 8:30 because Dean teaches the pre-professional year kids, although I’m not in a class with him until 10, I get to hang around the cafe, bump into old friends (who are working with Gondwana choirs, I saw their GM Bernie here the other day and conductor Amandine today!), and get some work done.

It’s been nearly 2 months since my last update, and a lot has gone on. I’ve had 3 performances, two in January and one early March… “Exile Nothing” with Dean, and “Vignettes of Identity” a solo show I got together very quickly for Guy James Whitworth’s exhibition for Mardi Gras.

Vignettes of Identity - I invited some of the audience to dance with me whilst I was nude and they were clothed, imitating a slow ascending and descending modality that Dean taught me. Photo by Sarah Malone

Vignettes of Identity - I invited some of the audience to dance with me whilst I was nude and they were clothed, imitating a slow ascending and descending modality that Dean taught me. Photo by Sarah Malone

Both experiences were exhilarating, and the reason I’m here at SDC - I love incorporating movement into my work and so I’m doing stretch and ballet classes, and training with Dean during the week, to become a better mover.

Exile Nothing is the first part of a triptych. It is just Dean and I, a lot of costuming, music I’ve written and music we’ve selected… we presented two versions, one for the Sydney Festival for Really Good Sex, and another in a showing for our supporters. 

We arrived at the content through Dean’s creative process… although I’d have liked to have had more input into the approach to creating this work than I did, for the sake of time and expedience (and curiosity) I let Dean take the lead. 

We started off with a long discussion (about 2 hours) about why we were doing the work. I took that text and we distilled it (as quickly as we could) into themes and our reasons/passions for the project. We used that distillation to create movement as metaphor, state as premise for movement, and plotted a modular chronology of events that made sense. Although we didn’t have the time to really tie everything in together and make something that transcended itself, we came up with a string of scenes that made sense, and were very impactful.

Exile Nothing - Really Good Sex Festival performance. Photo by Sarah Malone

Exile Nothing - Really Good Sex Festival performance. Photo by Sarah Malone

The movement came from Dean’s creative/choreographic methods. There were a few things I put in there (which weren’t exactly new to the world of dance, but stuff I could actually do), but most of it stemmed from improvisation exercises that Dean lead in the studio. I love this sort of approach to creating, and I’m adopting it for two works I’m writing at the moment - “Out of the deep” for The Song Company (which will be premiered in June) and 30/31 for Australian Art Quartet (to be premiered in May). I’ll have the quartet hands-on during a residency in Bundanon next month, and the Song Company I simply have to come up with the notes and send them through.

I’m thinking for the Song Company work that I’ll leave some creative licence or creative exercise for the singers… I need it to sound soulful and fresh - every performance, and to do that there needs to be a slight chance of failure.

I’ll figure it out.

Ballet class was extraordinary to me last week… it all looks so easy, when a professional dancer does it but when I get in there I feel all these muscles that I haven’t worked before, and forms I don’t understand, language that is new to me... it is a wonderful experience. I hope I’ll be able to take these lessons into my workshops with Maxine Doyle, Sarah Dowling and Andrew Morrish later this year, and my play with Dapheny Chen, and my further developments with Dean… and of course my development with the AAQ.

There’s a number of projects that have gone on the back burner for me, and I need to figure out, somehow, how I can manage them… I have people willing to help, but I guess I’m getting things lined up in my own company herein Sydney… Limelight is going well. I’m about to hire an administration assistant. I put the ad up yesterday arvo at 3pm, and it’s only 9am today and yet we’ve had 50 responses already. 

Limelight’s making enough surplus now for me to not be worried about the future… and although certain things are taking longer than I thought they would, we’re going to be fine… though I really need that new website to be up before the next financial year. It’s coming along well, but progress is slow and careful (and every step gets it right), rather than fast and haphazard. If things stay as they are, by about December the company will have some surplus income… which, at this stage, I’m not sure what I’d do with… honestly, I’m really tired, and may just take a few months off, or get another staff member (a senior) part time to take care of the management that I do so I can concentrate on the next major business development project; Vordenker and Recommend Live.

On a more personal note, things with Dean are amazing. We got away for about 5 days (though I had to do a bit of work each day nevertheless) camping with our new dog, Liam, who’s a greyhound rescue, 2.5 years old. He’s getting on really well with Harvey now, and loves to curl up in bed with us, which is gorgeous, considering how timid and snarley he was at first. He has his ways of asking for things, and he’s cheeky in the kitchen (I’d bake a whole new loaf of bread, and he steals it off the counter when I’m not looking and eat half of it!). I really want to help Dean by building a company structure to help him realise his dreams… we will plan it this year, and execute it the next.

I'm running with Harvey and Liam at a beach near Huskisson, where Dean and I were camping for 5 days. Liam needs to wear a muzzle and be on a lead at all times as he is a rescue greyhound.

I'm running with Harvey and Liam at a beach near Huskisson, where Dean and I were camping for 5 days. Liam needs to wear a muzzle and be on a lead at all times as he is a rescue greyhound.

I think we could use Chronology Arts company structure, and that will create a new revenue stream for it, and reason for better funding, so we can make a full time producer / GM / agent position. Shaping into an interesting company - an artist collective, artists represented and projects created… and we create opportunities for those artists to make work… I could get Dean in the company then, maybe even talk to Daph about it too… and open a Singapore branch to agent our works from there as well as have a base in Singapore for the software developments.

Anyway, dreams… all this is too next year.

Andrew Batt-Rawden

Arts Illuminated Pty Ltd, Level 13, 167 Macquarie Street, Sydney, NSW 2000

Publisher and artist. I have a background in music composition, festival direction, media publishing, some uni teaching here and there as well as performance art. I make websites for various projects that I'm involved with.