New Breed 2017 choreographer Melanie Lane has a collaborative approach to choreography, relishing the opportunity for a work to evolve around the participants. Here Melanie discusses her approach to working with Sydney Dance Company.
1. How would you describe the music for your piece?
The music will be an original composition from my long time collaborator and partner Clark. He’s an electronic producer on the UK indie label Warp, who has collaborated with me on eight productions. For this new work he will join me in the studio to create something new. We’ve been talking about using a combination of organic and synthetic sounds such as harp, piano and electronics.
2. What was your inspiration?
The invitation to work with 13 dancers from the Company is really inspiring. As an independent choreographer I rarely have the opportunity to work with a large group. I’m interested in modes of collectivity and group action such as crowds, military training and corps de ballet. I would like to steal from these ideas and re-invent a kind of posthuman army that slips between primal modes of seduction, violence and belonging. I feel that there is an absurdity in the way we as humans navigate this accelerating world, and so I would like to try and reflect a side of that.
3. Do you normally work with dancers? Tell us more about your experience
Yes, I love working with dancers, and have also worked on projects with non-dancers which has been really rewarding. I also often collaborate with artists from fields of visual art, sound and new media. Recently I have been interested in learning from and working with bodies (other than contemporary dance) that share a highly trained experience. In 2016 I worked with former Australian Ballet dancer Juliet Burnett for Chunky Move and created a new work with and for two female bodybuilders in Berlin. Most recently I connected with local exotic dancers for my production Nightdance at Arts House in Melbourne. I’m interested in meeting and learning from new people which helps expand my understanding of the body and its capacity for new experiences. There is nothing more exciting than sharing a physical space with others and generating ideas with the body that have the potential to transform and transcend.
4. What has been you career highlight so far?
The most recent highlight was premiering my new work Nightdance at Arts House in Melbourne with an amazing team. It had been a year in the making and such a stimulating and rewarding experience. I was chuffed to finally share it with an audience.
5. What can audiences expect from your piece?
It’s in the making, so I’m also curious what the outcome will be. The dancers contribute so much to a work, so I’m eager to meet them and get our mittens dirty together. In my fantasies I imagine the piece to reflect a kind of posthuman army that embraces an androgynous yet sensual form, wading through the motions of urgency and survival.
6. How would you describe your choreographic style?
I often feel like it’s simultaneously over dramatic and very minimal, kind of bouncing between these two poles. I would describe it as restless, controlled, messy, technical, chaotic and designed.
7. What do you love most about contemporary dance?
I love the ephemerality and limitless possibilities that can be experienced both as a maker and as an audience. I’m excited by it’s ability to manifest languages beyond what we are conditioned to and how it can transform the way we see the world.
New Breed 2017 is at Carriageworks 30 November – 9 December.