300 Local Participants Join New Large-Scale Dance Work Us And All Of This

Photo credit: Ian Laidlaw

Us And All Of This

Betty Amsden Participation Program

In an epic, once-in-a-lifetime event, 300 local participants will join award-winning choreographer and creator Liesel Zink at one of three venues across Victoria to create a large-scale, meditative and sculptural public dance work, Us And All Of This.

After a three-year hiatus, the Arts Centre Melbourne Betty Amsden Participation Program returns for its eighth instalment in a new multisite participatory project with Geelong Arts Centre and Bunjil Place. Each venue will engage 100 people varying in age, ethnicity, gender and body type who love to move and are keen to be involved in a new dance performance.

“It’s been five years since we lost Betty but it is in her honour, and as a continuing reminder of the joy and values she brought to Arts Centre Melbourne, that we continue to share her legacy. As this year’s champion of the Betty Amsden Participation Program, Liesel’s impactful work will demonstrate the power of art and creating deeper connections with members of the local community,” said Arts Centre Melbourne CEO Karen Quinlan AM.

In a world increasingly defined by rising geopolitical tension, ecological mismanagement, deteriorating labour conditions and social isolation, Zink’s Us And All Of This offers a rare moment of calm reflection. It forges a space for a diverse collection of people to gather, to learn and to embody their shared resistance to an atomised way of life.

Willing and curious participants need no prior dance experience to take part in the work. Led by Zink and four local artists, they will attend five gentle, yet rejuvenating, rehearsals to learn a range of choreographic and improvisational sequences that lead to the final performances in March and April 2023.

“After such a challenging couple of years, it is my hope that Us And All Of This will offer a slow and reflective space for people to be together; to embody their shared experiences and build a sense of collective resilience. For me, the project is a gentle yet urgent act of resistance against individualism and capitalism, division and despair. While the project is meditativein nature, it is powerful in its impact, occupying public spaces in an evocative display of new and more gentle ways of being,” said creator Liesel Zink.

Renowned sound artist and composer Lawrence English will create the soundscape for this performance allowing the participants to converge, coalesce, consolidate and renegotiate their relationship to the outside world and understand their collective agency.

The project is entirely free for the public to experience and is shared with Victorians through its occupation of public spaces in Melbourne, Geelong and Narre Warren. People are encouraged to attend one of the three locations to witness the 100 participants weave, expand and retract throughout the space in harmony.

“The Trustees of the Betty Amsden Foundation are delighted that the Betty Amsden Participation Program is returning after its three-year COVID-enforced hiatus. Now more than ever, bringing people from across Victoria together for shared experiences and moments of joy are paramount,” said Chair of the Betty Amsden Foundation Frankie Airey.

The Betty Amsden Participation Program started in 2014 and is an annual community event that inspires people from all over Victoria to be involved in a shared creative experience. These large-scale community events are designed to inspire Victorians and precinct visitors, engage diverse communities, break cultural and economic barriers, inspire civic and public participation and build community pride. Since it began, the Betty Amsden Participation Program has enriched the lives of over one million community members.

Previous Betty Amsden Participation Program works include:

2014 – Play Me, I’m Yours

2015 – Home

2016 – Dominoes

2017 – Fun Run

2018 – Play Me, I’m Yours

2019 – Those Who Rock & A Mile in My Shoes

2023 – Us And All Of This

Us And All Of This has been developed with support from the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body, the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland, Ausdance Qld, HOTA, Besen Family Foundation and the City of Melbourne. Co-presented with Geelong Arts Centre and Bunjil Place.

Us And All Of This by Liesel Zink has been commissioned by Arts Centre Melbourne through the generous support of the Betty Amsden endowment.

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