Clouds Above Berlin

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Clouds Above Berlin


First billed is Melanie’s Tilted Fawn – an abstract piece choreographed by the dance mistress with musical backing provided by electronic music aficionado Chris Clark. A stripped back solo show and part sound installation, the choreographer has used unorthodox techniques to bring the show to life, including an analogue orchestra.

“We use a lot of tape machines to produce the sound. It’s an orchestra of tape machines but they’re concealed in boxes. So it ends up being a bit of a visual sound installation as well.”

But the collaboration, says Lane, has been a ‘painstaking’ process to pull off, eschewing newer, digital technologies in favour of labour-intensive old ones to bring her part of the performance to completion.

“It’s a very lo-fi old medium for recording sound, so it was quite long and labouring because every time you make a change in the sound you have to re-record all the tape machines again, and that takes a whole day in itself. But it was really fun because it was not only about choreographing the movement, it was choreographing the sound and it’s definitely different.”

Music man Chris Clark was brought on board for the performance, whom Lane met in Berlin. Running under the moniker Clark, the UK born electronic act has collaborated with her three times, and has an album due to be released in a month or so. His musical fans will certainly see the influence the music has on the performance of movement.

Antony’s subsection of the performance, however, provides something different entirely. Something of a reunion for the university buddies, who’ve come together 14 years later to make another show together, his performance is both thematically and visually dark. Where Tilted Fawn has a bare and animalistic vibe to it, Black Project 1 – which they will both dance in – lends itself to different interpretations. Their diverse aesthetics perhaps speaks volumes about their career trajectories since they last danced together at university.
“He works a lot with visual art and dance together, so his work is based on creating this really unearthly universe that is built from different visual art techniques – painting, and all sorts of stuff, so that’s why we decided to put the two works together in the one evening because they both work with using objects and materials that transform the environment into something other.”

Black Project 1, Lane says, is a visual journey into space and time creating a specific other-planetary, futuristic environment. And the darkness in it isn’t just implied, with sets, costumes, and the entire performance completely black, including the dancers.

But what each of the dances have in common, she says, is abstraction. “We both have similar interests in creating a universe that’s really far from what we know as our normal environment, so with the dance it’s like a completely different language. It’s all about sensations rather than bringing in a narrative or a story. Bit more cerebral I guess, in a way.”

Although both performances are different thematically and in technique, Melanie notes that they offset each other nicely, using a variety of art forms to communicate.

“The two works together offer something really different and special, especially in contemporary dance because they both cross over between different art forms. The first piece is inviting the audience to get involved in the sonic experience. The second work is not only dance, but bringing the audience into a very visually sensitive environment. So they’re both really crossing over different art forms in a very collaborative way, rather than just touching on them.”

Contemporary dance, it seems, it the perfect forum for internal expression, with the usual structures, techniques, and forms for dance – i.e. boundaries – able to be stripped back. Their performance, while not necessarily narrative based, is therefore expressive in a different way.

“I just connected to [contemporary dance] because there are so many more possibilities. There’s not really a definition of what it is, and you’re able to really explore in different directions rather than one technique or style. So you’ve got a lot of freedom in that form. That’s the main focus.”

Lane has been dancing for 24 years, staring with being taken to ballet lessons by her mother dearest. For this performance, the Canberra-bred dancer is bringing her work to Australia for the first time after having danced overseas for many years.

“We just performed at [Perth’s Fringe World Festival], so that was the first Australian premiere and it went really well, we won best dance show which was nice. But this is the first time that I’ve ever shown anything in Melbourne, so for me it’s a great opportunity.”
Called “hypnotic” and defying gravity, space and time, the performance could only be pulled off by seasoned professionals. It certainly seems it will be an other-worldly experience.