- About Forever & Ever
- Production Elements
- Exploring Stimulus
- Media and Images
A number of themes and visions have emerged through the creation of this piece. We worked with ideas of duplication and modification in living systems over time, which was propelled by Paula’s costume concept. We looked at notions of order and chaos having a direct relationship to observability and scale. Less activity—more order, less chaos. More activity—less order, more chaos. I’ve enjoyed exploring these themes through an examination of popular culture, human behaviour and fashion, as indictors of the unwieldy nature of the zeitgeist and its rapid, unpredictable trajectory through time.
Choreographic phrases have been developed with both direct relationship to Julian’s repeating rhythmic musical bars, and polyrhythmic (different rhythms played simultaneously) iterations that skip around the perpetual beat. The music has served as the steady, driving foundation on which the choreography rides, and is informed by a minimal pop attitude, sonically referencing electronic toys, and rave culture.
Forever & Ever is a title that expresses many themes, but the central idea for this work has been to organise the body into curious formations, and to push the formidable dancers’ abilities with technically challenging material. This kind of technical approach to developing choreography never ceases to fascinate me. It has been a pleasure to create a piece with this outstanding and dedicated ensemble of dance artists, and with my collaborators Julian, Paula and Benjamin. Their dedication and commitment in the studio development has allowed this work to live and breathe.
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Choreographer Antony Hamilton
Music Julian Hamilton
Costume Design Paula Levis
Lighting Designer Benjamin Cisterne
READ about the Company Dancers
I was thrilled to be asked to collaborate with Antony on Forever & Ever. We have a unique and often strange, shared creative universe that we are able to dive into when working together on projects like this — something we return to again and again, ever since we were kids making stop-motion movies with our GI Joe figures in the backyard!
Composing these longer form works is a refreshing change from the pop music world I normally inhabit. Instead of trying to say everything in the space of a three minute radio song, I am instead able to explore just how much emotion and meaning I can convey by saying very little at all. Beats can build up over a very long period. Synths can subtly shift and morph almost imperceptibly. Antony encourages me in this process, often coming back with a suggestion to ‘do less… less parts… make it more repetitive and less complex!’ I am more than happy to oblige.
Read more about Julian’s process in this interview.
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LIGHTING DESIGNER’S NOTE
The design of Forever & Ever represents the next big step in many years of collaboration between Antony and myself. We have drawn from years of visual conversations, this time becoming influenced by simple designs of early computer graphics. Over the years we have developed a common aesthetic and an obsession with timing. This manifests in an inherently connected work where, along with the reference imagery and movement, the music defines every light sequence and change.
Forever & Ever presents the opportunity for Antony and myself to take some of the trickiest things we have developed with timing and colour transitions and scale them up to Sydney Dance Company size. We will use this to explore the contrasts of high and low tech ideas in light and how those can define space both through size and scale. It will be a work of contrasts and big changes following the rhythmic pulse of Julian’s music.
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STIMULUS: CREATIVE PROCESS
The title and theme, Forever & Ever, was inspired by Julian Hamilton’s composition. Julian created a series of musical sketches (short musical ideas which loop over several minutes). Antony selected one of these to be extended over 36 minutes to create longer arcs which push the music to its limit. There is a sense that the music is perpetually endless which provided an anchor for the title, Forever & Ever, and a context for the dance work. However other themes and ideas emerged as part of the choreographic process and cross-artform collaboration.
There is a strong relationship between the movement and music. Julian has used two instruments – a Rolland TR909 (a drum machine) and a Moog (a 1960’s keyboard instrument) to create a minimalist sound palate with a sonic limitation. The continuous and meditative pulse offers continuity across the work and provokes images of a rave party, inspiring similar movement qualities to match.
Inspired by the theme of Forever & Ever, the costumes shift throughout the work and inform the structure and choreography. There are five layers of costumes which are sequentially removed to reveal subsequent costumes underneath. This corresponds with the number of dancers in focus, which duplicates to create the pattern: 1 / 2 / 4 / 8 / 16.
The costume designs transition from larger and more sculptural shape-based costumes to smaller urban-inspired costumes which reveal the dancer’s identities. These costumes directly impact the choreography – the latter costumes providing a larger range of movement.
Antony divided the composition into segments, treating each segment like a scene. He applied a cinematic storyboard and imagery-based approach – blocking the work prior to working with the dancers. Once he created the movement vocabulary with the dancers, he developed and integrated these movements into the structure, which also continued to develop over the rehearsal period.
Antony commenced the choreographic process with technical exercises which do not relate to the theme. These structured improvisation tasks offered the dancers a narrow set of rules focusing on numerical patterns. These tasks were often completed in pairs and allowed the dancers to familirise themselves with Antony’s movement vocabulary.
The specific counting structures usually change time signatures (groups of counts) after each bar. For example: 1, 2, 3, 4 / 1, 2, 3 / 1, 2 / 1. These tasks would be simple to start and as the dancers became comfortable with the process and choreography, the tasks became more complex with additional layers of instructions. For example: incorporating different body parts, air pathways and movement qualities for each group of counts. After the dancers had choreographed movement phrases, Antony would embellish and develop them, providing further numerical tasks or including some of his own choreography.
In addition to the set choreography, Antony has also included structured improvisation in the performance where each time the choreography is performed differently.
Other Choreographic Ideas
Antony was interested in exploring the concept of unison. This includes the idea of rhythmic unison where dancers may perform different actions, shapes and movement qualities but of the same duration (length) and at the same tempo (speed). This idea is reflected throughout the work.
Additionally, Antony was interested in affecting ways audiences observe and identify the numerical patterns he created. In the initial solo, there is no music or other dancers performing in unison to indicate that the intricate choreography is set or is randomly improvised.
Antony was also interested in interrupting and interfering with the natural flow of the work – interrupting the audience’s immersion with a sound, lighting or choreographic ‘glitch’.
Read more about Antony’s process in this interview.
Download as a PDF.
Antony and Julian Hamilton talk about their ideas and creative process behind Forever & Ever in this video, Behind the Scenes: The Creation of Antony Hamilton’s ‘Forever & Ever’: VIDEO 1
Watch this animated video promotion of Forever & Ever, ‘Forever & Ever’ Trailer: VIDEO 2
Read about what to expect at the Forever & Ever double bill in this CHEAT SHEET.
Read Antony Hamilton’s blog about his choreographic process, Choreographer Antony Hamilton talks unison and repetition in ‘Forever & Ever’, September 2018: BLOG 1
Read Julian Hamilton’s blog about his compositional process, From pop music to dance: The Presets’ Julian Hamilton on composing ‘Forever & Ever’, October 2018: BLOG 2
Read BROADSHEET interview with Julian Hamitlon and Antony Hamilton, The Sydney Dance Company’s new double bill is an artistic collaboration too good to miss, written by Jane Albert – October 2018.
Read The Sydney Morning Herald feature article, Brothers in dance, written by Charles Purcell – October 2018.
Read The Daily Telegraph feature article, Company dancing to a new beat with string quartet, written by Jo Litson – October 2018.
Read Limelight feature article, A new Frame of Mind for SDC with live music, written by Jo Litson – October 2018.
Read Dance Australia feature article, Sydney Dance Company: Forever & Ever, written by Valerie Lawson – October 2018.
Read The F feature article, Forever & Ever by Sydney Dance Company is the latest production you need to see, written by James Banham – October 2018.
Read Pedestrian feature article, How not to miss out on the most insane Aussie high culture moment of 2018, written by Chris Wirasinha – October 2018.
Read City Hub feature article, Forever & Ever, written by Jade Morellini – October 2018.
Read The Sydney Morning Herald review, Sydney Dance Company review: An intriguing study in contrasts, written by Jill Sykes – October 2018.
Read Deborah Jone’s review, Forever & Ever, Sydney Dance Company, written by Deborah Jones – October 2018.
Read TimeOut review, Forever & Ever review, written by Ben Neutz – October 2018.
Read The Daily Review, Forever and Ever dance review (Roslyn Packer Theatre, Sydney), written by Martin Portus – October 2018.
Read Michelle Potter’s review, Forever & Ever. Sydney Dance Company, written by Michelle Potter – October 2018.
Read Sydney Scoop review, Forever & Ever, written by Rebecca Varidel – October 2018.
Read Dance Informer review, Two contrasting works in Sydney Dance Company’s ‘Forever & Ever’, written by Lynne Lancaster – October 2018.
Julian Hamilton shares his music inspirations during the creation of the Forever & Ever score in this Spotify playlist, Behind the Music of Forever & Ever: PLAYLIST 1
Creating a Duo Phrase – Task in Pairs
Aim: To create a movement phrase based on a numerical pattern which consists of different time signatures.
- As a class, read through the Forever & Ever Stimulus resource, discussing how Antony Hamilton used different time signatures (groups of counts) in his choreographic tasks.
- Discuss Pattern One of Table One (below). You may like to count the pattern aloud together, clapping on count 1 of each bar.
|Table One||Bar 1||Bar 2||Bar 3||Bar 4||Bar 5|
|Pattern One||1, 2, 3, 4||1, 2, 3, 4||1, 2, 3, 4||1, 2, 3, 4||1, 2, 3, 4|
|Pattern Two||1, 2, 3, 4||1, 2, 3, 4||1, 2, 3||1, 2||1, 2, 3, 4|
|Pattern Three||1, 2, 3, 4||1, 2, 3, 4||1, 2, 3||1, 2||1|
|Pattern Four||1, 2||1, 2||1, 2, 3||1, 2||1, 2|
|Pattern Five||1||1, 2||1, 2, 3||1, 2, 3, 4||1, 2, 3, 4, 5|
- Individually, move your right arm in a single direction over the duration of four counts. Change the direction of your arm’s movement on count 1 of each bar while aiming to keep your tempo (speed) consistent. Imagine that you are always moving away from a fixed point – that you never arrive at the movement’s conclusion, and instead it changes direction. This will create a percussive movement quality on count 1 of each bar.
- Repeat step 3, but alternate arms on count 1 of each bar. That is, on count 1 of each bar, one arm will freeze (it may still move in relation to the body but will not move in isolation), and the other arm will resume movement.
- Repeat steps 3-4, alternating the size (dimension) of each movement. For example, movement one might be small and movement two might be large. See Table Two (below) for an example of this task.
|Table Two||Bar 1||Bar 2||Bar 3||Bar 4|
|Pattern One||1, 2, 3, 4||1, 2, 3, 4||1, 2, 3, 4||1, 2, 3, 4|
|Body Part||Right Arm||Left Arm||Right Arm||Left Arm|
- Repeat steps 3-5, using different body parts for each bar of counts including legs, head, hands and feet. You can also experiment with changing the tempo for each bar, alternating between your original tempo and ‘double time’ or ‘half time’.
- Individually, select one of the patterns in Table One and create a short phrase using different body parts, sizes and tempos.
- In pairs, perform your phrase for each other and discuss if you could identify the patterns which were used. Learn your partner’s phrase and combine them together. You may like to interweave the movements or combine the two phrases consecutively.
- Once your duo phrase is complete, use the following suggestions to further develop and structure your movement material:
- Adapt elements of dance: change movements’ level or direction
- Repetition: repeat a movement
- Call and response: alternate movement and stillness between dancers
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Suggested Questions for Discussion
- Write down your initial thoughts after watching Forever & Ever. You may wish to brainstorm this as a group. Use the questions below to assist with articulating your thoughts and ideas:
- What sections, movements or phrases did you like or dislike, and why? Can you describe these using the elements of dance?
- What feelings or emotions did you experience when watching the work? What specifically about the performance made you feel this way?
- What did the work make you think about?
- What is your interpretation of the work? Compare and contrast your interpretation of Forever & Ever with someone else’s.
- Did you observe any choreographic tools used throughout the work such as symmetrical and asymmetrical movements, unison, repetition, canon, group formations and changes of directions and levels? How did these impact on your interpretation of the work?
- How did the different aspects (movement, music, set, lighting and costumes) impact your experience?
- After considering all the aspects above, would you recommend the performance to someone else?
- Describe the relationship between the music, lighting and choreography. Do you believe these production components and elements of dance integrate cohesively to communicate a concept? Justify your evaluation with evidence.
- Inspired by the title and theme of Forever & Ever, there are five layers of costumes which are sequentially removed to reveal subsequent costumes underneath. How do these different costumes affect the dancer’s movement, your observation of their movements (the shapes they make with their bodies) and your interpretation of the dance work? In your response, consider how these costumes are removed and how they become part of the set in the background (up stage).
- During the initial section of the work, Antony Hamilton has choreographed a duo which is performed by the tallest and shortest dancers of the Company ensemble. The two dancers are dressed in different costumes, create different shapes with their bodies and perform using different movement qualities. How has Antony used these elements of dance and different props (a portable stage light and two handheld lances) to communicate the relationship between the two dancers?
- Antony has choreographed sections of Forever & Ever with and without music. How did these two different choreographic approaches affect your experience?
- During the creative process, Antony Hamilton devised choreographic tasks which included varied time signatures and numerical patterns. Can the essence of these tasks be observed in Forever & Ever? Why or why not?
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