flex and point

Not just moves – there’s more to con­tem­po­rary dance than meets the eye, says chore­og­ra­pher Me­lanie Lane

ELLE (Australia) - - Contents -

We meet chore­og­ra­pher Me­lanie Lane.

The only fe­male on the bill for this year’s New Breed, a Syd­ney Dance Com­pa­nyled show­case high­light­ing five chore­og­ra­phy stars on the rise, Me­lanie Lane is ob­sessed with the body. From how it moves and how it can be ma­nip­u­lated to the var­i­ous in­dus­tries sur­round­ing it, her work dives deep into it all. Based be­tween Mel­bourne and Ber­lin, Lane’s ré­sumé name-drops some of the lead­ing com­pa­nies be­tween here and Europe and her work has graced the stages of mu­sic fes­ti­vals and in­side New York’s MOMA PS1. Here, she shows how deep her body ob­ses­sion runs...

[DANCE] IS A TOUGH IN­DUS­TRY TO BE IN AND YOU HAVE TO FIGHT HARD, ES­PE­CIALLY IF YOU WANT TO BE IN­DE­PEN­DENT.

There’s a lot more be­hind cre­at­ing a dance work than peo­ple might imag­ine. It’s not just about work­ing in the stu­dio, but re­search­ing and try­ing to find out as much in­for­ma­tion as pos­si­ble that will in­form the mak­ing of the work. Then, of course, there are dancers, sound mak­ers, cos­tume mak­ers and light de­sign­ers. It’s a col­lab­o­ra­tive process, not just about mak­ing up moves.

I CAN GET OB­SESSED WITH THE SUB­JECT I’M WORK­ING ON.

I just pre­miered a piece look­ing at the night­club en­vi­ron­ment – so I did a lot of re­search with lo­cal per­form­ers from ex­otic clubs, bur­lesque and drag (in­clud­ing male strip­pers) and we had them give us work­shops. I’ve also cre­ated a piece with two fe­male body builders where I looked at the body’s rep­re­sen­ta­tion and the in­ten­sive train­ing of body builders. I did their diet, train­ing and ev­ery­thing – I just wanted to know what it felt like. I love im­mers­ing my­self in peo­ple’s worlds so that I can un­der­stand them. For me, the best way is to get my hands dirty.

THE LACK OF FE­MALE REP­RE­SEN­TA­TION IN LARGE DANCE COM­PA­NIES NEEDS TO BE TALKED ABOUT.

There are loads of amaz­ing women work­ing as chore­og­ra­phers in Aus­tralia – they’re just tak­ing a while to be recog­nised. It’s quite com­plex and is prob­a­bly a com­bi­na­tion of many things, like tra­di­tion. It’s chang­ing, es­pe­cially in Europe, but it’s very over­due.

THE BEAUTY OF CON­TEM­PO­RARY DANCE IS THAT THE POSSIBILITIES ARE IN­FI­NITE.

More and more we’re see­ing a cross­over be­tween con­tem­po­rary dance, vis­ual arts and the spa­ces that it’s be­ing per­formed in. You see so much dance in gal­leries now and I imag­ine that will ex­pand into other realms as well. I know there are peo­ple al­ready start­ing to work with vir­tual re­al­ity, so who knows, maybe it will start mov­ing into that 3D uni­verse. It’s so open-ended. New Breed 2017, a col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween Syd­ney Dance Com­pany, Car­riage­works and The Bal­naves Foun­da­tion, is on from Novem­ber 30 to De­cem­ber 9; syd­ney­dance­com­pany.com

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