SHORT SWEET + DANCE SYDNEY 2010Ever had an idea for a dance piece and wanted to see what it would look like with proper lighting, production values and have the opportunity to gage an audience reaction? These are just a few of the benefits on offer when you enter Short Sweet + Dance Festival. SS+D premiered in Australia in 2007 for one week at the Newtown Theatre, Sydney. Last year it ran a three-week season and included Melbourne for the first time in June with a one-week season. SS+D is a participatory festival providing a platform for choreographers, dancers and directors. It’s about developing networks, building industry relationships and furthering the career of independent artists and companies. This year in Sydney was a huge success and has set the bar quite high for following seasons.
First time choreographer for the festival, Verity Jacobsen entered her original piece ‘Unwritten Etiquette’ which is described as, ‘…. a collaborative work based on an abstract vision of the 16th century etiquette “laws”‘. Verity admits, ‘There is no right or wrong in choreography. Since this being my first time choreographing for a festival, it was a little bit frightening to know that a lot of people are going to turn up and watch my piece and have an opinion on it. In saying that, I have really enjoyed hearing peoples opinions (good and bad) as it gets my brain ticking into other areas that I could explore or different ways I could do things in the future.’
Ela Ray Markstein’s work ‘Recess:00′ enjoyed the vexatious honour of being the underground favourite. ‘Yes I created my work for the festival, I also had an original composition composed by Me-Lee Hay for the show and a visual art film created by Karen Crespo for the season. I consider this performance as the beginning stage of my work though and would love to develop it further and maybe make a dance film of it!’ explains Ela. ‘I have learnt that you can never have enough rehearsals and also as I am dancing in the piece also, that I should have maybe stepped in a bit earlier so I felt as rehearsed as the rest of the group. The experience has also helped me be more confident with dealing with the more technical side of the performance such as lighting, sound etc’.
Benjamin Hancock was judged as Best Male Dancer. Ben performed a piece choreographed by Martin Del Amo entitled ‘What Remains’ which had the audience talking way after leaving the theatre, some controversial but mostly complimentary. It seemed everyone had a different opinion. Some thought he was a puppet without its’ strings, others a bird fresh out of the shell. Ambiguity and focus resulted in true art; leave them thinking. I asked Martin how he feels SS+D benefits the community? ‘The festival brings together artists from many genres and styles. They range from young and emerging to more experienced and established. Works presented in the festival reflect the entire dance spectrum from commercial to experimental, from entertainment to investigative. It’s an opportunity for artists to present work outside of the context they usually work in. In turn, audiences get exposed to a large variety of works, some of which they might not know about and wouldn’t normally go and see. It seems to me that the dance community in Sydney is quite fractured; there is not much dialogue of cross-fertilisation between the sub-communities. In this sense, the festival fulfils an important community-strengthening role’.
Outstanding Choreography went to Sean Marcs – P.S. (week one), Gemma Dawkins – A Little Light Dinner Conversation (week two) and Tim Farrar – A Few Things Of The Same Kind (week three). Male Dancer -Benjamin Hancock, Female Dancer – Anna Healey, New Talent – Venettia Millar, Wildcard Peoples Choice – Mashum Liberta and Peoples Choice – Chris Horsey.
The Short Sweet + Dance Festival is an incredibly good opportunity for dancers, choreographers and directors. It is extremely well run by Olivia Ansell and Heath Baldwin. The festival is an incubator for Australian creative talent and the dance community at large. The benefits are far-reaching and unpredictable, so consider submitting next year in your area. Get cracking now and plant the seed and let the SS+D festival be the soil.
Chris Horsey