Partying-on with new Canberra dance company

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ALISON Plevey is a dancer on a mission.

Alison Plevey (front), background,  Lea, Wickham and Voorhoeve
Alison Plevey (front), background, Lea, Wickham and Voorhoeve

The founder of the new Australian Dance Party – that’s a pun on the political kind of party – she is kicking off the performance company this evening at Hotel Hotel in a venture aimed at sustaining practice and employment for dancers.

In doing so she’s found how important it will be to get into bed with business, education, health, science and academia –anywhere where dancers can collaborate on project with shared goals.

Plevey says, “We believe that the arts, and dance is not siloed from society. The Party seeks to find ways where dance can feature more prominently in our experiences, be valued and therefore sustained as important to our society.”

While in the future they’ll be reaching far beyond the normal parameters of the art form, in tonight’s debut show, “Strings Attached,” which extends until Saturday, dancers Plevey, Liza Lea, Gabriel Comerford and Janine Proost join with trumpeter Miroslav Bukowsky,   violinist Tim Wickham, cellist Alex Voorhoeve, double bass player David Flynn, pianist Meriel Owen and drummer Steve Fitzgerald all but one of whom, Bukowsky, have been sourced from the Canberra Symphony Orchestra.

“We’re seeing how our languages correlate and where the differences are,” Plevey says, “how dance and music join together, it’s important for us to explore our humanity.”

Like a political party, the company wants to challenge audiences to actively think, question ideals and debate current issues, but “all with a necessary playfulness….after all, it is a dance party.”

And just in case you thought this was another instance where starving dancers and musicians do a lot of work for nothing, Plevey is adamant this will not be so.  “We always pay artists,” she says. Their biggest supporter is the Molonglo Group who own the NewActon Precinct—they’ve been on board for the initial stages and the planning which has taken place over the past two years.

It’s a professional production in a pop up ‘theatre’ above the Palace Cinemas in Hotel Hotel, now  revamped and decorated with beautiful crochet webs by artist Victoria Lees to the theme of strings.

“There’ll be funky vintage furniture and a bar and it’ll have a cabaret atmosphere and a post-industrial feel,” Plevey predicts.

Contemporary it may be, but “Strings Attached” also is based on a very ancient notion of music and dance being inextricably bound together in the creative process. The dancers and musicians worked together finding out where the two out forms overlaps, using classical themes, Indian rhythms introduced by Liz Lea, and even a hint of Tango, “yet not Tango,” as Plevey says.

After this premiere, The Australian Dance Party can be expected to be seen “popping up in different kinds of spaces, unexpected spaces”, Plevey says, as happened when she ‘popped up’ at the opening of the HotDocs cinema festival at Palace couple of months ago.

Australian Dance Party and the Canberra Symphony Orchestra present “Strings Attached,” the ‘Nishi Playhouse’ floor one, Hotel Hotel, NewActon, 8pm August 25-27, bookings to eventbrite.com.au

 

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