Tomorrow Makers, Dancenorth (Townsville QLD)

The Townsville company’s last production of the year gave insights into the dancer’s creative processes.

Contemporary dance is a strange beast – much like its running-mates contemporary art and contemporary jazz, it is what you make of it. And no two people will necessarily come out with the same view of what they saw and what it meant to them.

Such is the mix that is served up in Dancenorth’s last production of the year, Tomorrow Makers 2. This collection of small works remains true to the company’s philosophy of collaboration, and while in the past few years we have seen the company collaborate nationally and internationally, it was with some sense of celebration that the company collaborated closer to home, most notably with renowned Townsville-based international lighting designer Jamie Schmidt.

Curated by Dancenorth associate artistic director, Amber Haines, the dance works were collaborative efforts from the dancers and the entire evening gave insights more about the dancers’ creative processes than about them as performers – particularly in the illuminating Q&A session afterwards.

This group of contemporary dancers have been one of the keys to national and international success that Dancenorth has been enjoying in the past few years. They must surely enjoy their collective reputation, and the work from five of these seasoned athletes – Mason Kelly, Georgia Rudd, Sam Hines, Jack Ziesing and Jenni Large – was as different in content, context and mode of delivery as it was similar in dance styles.

The evening commenced with the audience seated in the round for Mason Kelly’s solo work And Here We Are. This largely improvised work started in working lights with what looked like a warm-up exercise, which encouraged the audience to concentrate on him and his movement. Slow dimming of the lights led into music from jazz trumpeter Chet Baker, and Kelly’s sinuous movements complemented the bebop score.

There was an odd disconnect in the work Sifting Through All the Forgets from Georgia Rudd. Three dancers (Jenni Large, Felix Sampson and Jack Ziesing) performed rather like a contemporary jazz trio – working within certain ‘poles’ in sync but strangely rare interaction between them – either focussing on each other or physical interaction.

Beyond the Marrow was an extremely interesting work from Sam Hines, which certainly screams out for further development and exploration. It explored different facets of masculinity from an internal perspective. Performed by Kelly and Ziesing, they emerged from and returned to a strange but almost funereal angelic monument, centred around a faceless character clad in white calico, from which emerged a rope which gradually defined the dance space.

Ziesing’s solo piece Prince of Darkness: Prologue was born of a fascination with horror movies and Black Sabbath, and performed to the band’s 1970 antiwar song War Pigs. This piece was stunningly yet simply lit by Schmidt, which highlighted Ziesing’s impressive and towering stage presence and costuming.

The evening ended with Jenni Large’s absurdist piece Oh, How My Soul Flares Up in a Minute!, set with interesting counterpoint to an aria from Rossini’s 1821 opera Mathilde di Shabran. The ensemble were all dressed in differently coloured morph suits and white runners, and their deadpan delivery, co-ordinated jerky movements and rhythmic slapping slowly built up the humour to a climax – a perfect way to end the performance.

4 stars out of 5 ★★★★

Tomorrow Makers 2
Presented by Dancenorth
Curator: Amber Haines
Choreography: Mason Kelly, Georgia Rudd, Sam Hines, Jack Ziesing and Jenni Large

Lighting Design: Jamie Schmidt

Cast and collaborators: Sophie Gargan, Samantha Hines, Mason Kelly, Jenni Large, Georgia Rudd, Felix Sampson and Jack Ziesing
7-9 November 2019
Dancenorth Theatre, Townsville QLD

Trevor Keeling
About the Author
Trevor Keeling has been involved in the arts and creative industries for 40 years in Australia, South Africa and Zimbabwe. He has been an actor, theatre director, journalist and critic, publisher, broadcaster, music festival director, event manager and arts administrator. Since coming to Australia in 1991, he appeared in numerous productions in Adelaide, and was Festival Director of the Glenelg Jazz Festival for six years. He was General Manager of Dancenorth in Townsville (2005-2006 and 2011-2014) and for three years was CEO of Mirndiyan Gunana Aboriginal Corporation, which included managing the world-renowned Indigenous Mornington Island Dancers. He has worked in urban, regional and remote environments in Australia and has a particular focus on regional arts and the connection to community.