the whirlwind that was

Wednesday, December 20th, 2006

well, we had plans to update the blog while we were on the road but, needless to say, it didn’t eventuate.
the 6 days (that’s right, less than a week) of our first visit to New York was extremely full and didn’t really allow much time for sitting and writing. here’s a quick overview, more details to come about venues, etc.

after two days in Toronto being looked after by our friends we flew into JFK Airport at around midday. the taxi ride to manhattan is capped at US$45 and took us straight to St Marks in the lower East Village area. we had 2 hours of time in the space there where we were accompanied by some painters who repainting the walls. from there we went to the Panetta Movement Centre for 2 hours rehearsal time (of which I slept for 40mins or so) then headed to our accommodation. the next day we had some more rehearsal time at Panetta and a tech run in the evening where we met Kathy Kaufmann who was lighting the works for the festival as well as Bessie and Ishmael Houston-Jones from Movement Research.
our third day was spent wandering around New York. a stroll through Central Park, walking down to Times Square, a wee sojourn in Hell’s Kitchen.
then the first night of the festival. we were on the bill with Polly Motley and Miguel Gutierrez – Miguel will be in Australia in 2007 choreographing on Balletlab. our performance was in between Polly’s and Miguel’s. we’ve uploaded a video of the performance to YouTube which you can view here. we had an amazing response to our work that was a great acknowledgement, for us, of what we’ve achieved in our 10 years of practice. more on this in another post.
the following day we did some more walking around to see the sites as well as checking out some possible venues for touring in the future. we caught the Staten Island Ferry there (State Island of course) and back and got a great view of the city. went to two of The Strand bookstores, walked across the Brooklyn Bridge and caught headed in for the second evening of performance for the festival, which featured Daniel Lepkoff, Paige Martin, Chris Aiken and Marc Boivin. after a short visit to a Jazz club in Harlem we headed to our new digs for the night.

sunday was a little more relaxed as we caught up with people we’d intended to meet and then headed in for our second show – here on YouTube (my, you’re going to be keen to watch 40 minutes on such a small screen!). just an aside… we’ve put up long unedited excerpts (and in these two cases, full shows) for people to see because we want people to get some experience of what we do in real-time as opposed to what we could create through editing the work and providing a montage. there’s a tendency for people to show work that is a slick edit of a stage work, and that doesn’t really let you engage beyond the gloss of the edit. aside finished. after this show (to which we also received an extremely positive response) we went for dinner with some of the artists and staff at a local resteraunt.

our final day was probably one of the most hectic. we had arranged a few meetings and wanted to scope out some more venues so we really hightailed around the city before catching a cab to the airport after lunch. two car accidents on the route to the airport meant that we were quite late for our plane to LA but there was no problems. on the long haul leg (13.5 hours) from LA to Sydney we bought an upgrade to business class at the LA terminal at a very reasonable price. it was such a good thing to do – made a huge difference to how we experienced jetlag when we got home.

now begins the work of following up and trying to organise our next tour, which we hope to be a season of our own work.

we will post some more details about our experience soon – hopefully some of which will be useful to others looking to head over to NY to perform.

when you get up to the city, you better have some cash

Wednesday, December 6th, 2006

In a couple of days we will be performing at the Movement Research Festival in New York, New York (the customs guy hassled Jacob about putting the city *and* the state on his visa waiver form… important stuff). US customs take two finger prints (left and right index) and a photo of you whenever you enter the the country. Lots of unpacking and repacking carry-on luggage being patted down and not being allowed to take more than 100ml of any fluid, gel or other liquid on board (isn’t a fluid a liquid?). This also meant not taking an empty water bottle to fill up on the plane. No problems anywhere though really, just time consuming and a little boring to go through. Also, when you look at it objectively, totally ineffective for anyone who’s determined. All the extra security seems mostly just to make people feel like something is being done.

Anyway, the festival is over three days Fri 8th, Sat 10th and Sun 11th of December, and features mostly US dance artists including Miguel Guiterrez, Daniel Lepkoff, Polly Motley, Chris Aiken, Paige Martin and Marc Boivin. Google them to find out more – you can also check the program at movementresearch.org

Circus Oz are in town while we’re there and we hoping to hook up with some of them to say hi. May even get to see the show if we’re lucky and can fit it in.

After a couple of days in Toronto’s -8 degrees temperature we’re looking forward to the balmy 6 degrees in New York.


Tuesday, October 10th, 2006

We’ve initiated a new series. It’s called Impression Comparison Perspective.

Details available at the new website icp.slightly.net.

As part of the inaugural performances we will be joining forces with musician/composers Madeleine Flynn and Tim Humphrey. One of the main purposes of this series is to develop greater understanding of performance improvisation as an art form. In coming series we will be curating artists who have an ongoing practice in this form, across a range of genres.

Series One is on Monday 16, Tuesday 17 and Wednesday 18 of October, 2006. Check the website for full details.
These will be our last Melbourne performances for 2006.
ICP Flyer

dances the size of photographs

Tuesday, October 10th, 2006

Don’t really know what the title means, but we know what it is!

dances the size of photographs

7 men, 5 women, a black room, improvised performance
Join some of Melbourne’s premier movement, dance & music improvisers in this grapple with the unexpected.
Jacob Lehrer and David Corbet : Born in a Taxi (Nick Papas, Penny Baron, Caroline Hanna) : Sally Smith : Paul Romano : Adam Jackson and Sarah Fitzgerald : Shaun McLeod : And with live improvised music by Madeleine Flynn and Tim Humphrey

One performance only at Deakin University
Thursday 12 October, 6.30pm, $5.00 at the door (no bookings)
The Performance Studio, P1.28
221 Burwood Highway, Burwood
Enquiries 9251 7651

dances the size of photographs

click the image for a PDF flyer.

moving onto You Tube

Tuesday, October 10th, 2006

We’ve now uploaded a few more videos to You Tube. It’s fascinating to watch as people find the films. We’ve added tags that help people find the material and ‘contact improvisation’ is probably the way most people will be finding it – not too sure how many people are looking for contemporary dance on the web. In the two weeks that the following footage has been uploaded there have been more than 550 views. That’s an average of about 40 people a day. I wonder how many watch the whole thing?

To see the stats you need to go to the video page.
We’ve created an account channel at http://youtube.com/profile?user=slightlymoving to which you can subscribe.

You Tube also allows you to post videos in response to videos you see – i’m wondering who’s going to start the first online collaborative choreography.

performances this week

Tuesday, September 19th, 2006

I have been working with Simon Ellis and Shannon Bott on two solos for Paea Leach. Paea commissioned these two choreographers to each make a short solo for her. This project has had three stages beginning in 2004 and coming to a final performance outcome this week at Dancehouse. The two solos will also be touring to Perth in October for the Artrage Festival.

“Four acts of violence leading up to now”
Simon Ellis, Paea Leach, David Corbet

Shannon Bott, Paea Leach, David Corbet, Alex Jack and Jess Hutchison

lighting and costume for both by Richard Vabre and Paula Levis respectively

I have been doing the sound for both and media in Four acts. These two short works and will be presented alongside Bagryana Popov’s “Studies in Being Human”.

Dates: September 21–23 at 8pm, September 24 at 5pm
Venue: Dancehouse, 150 Princes St North Carlton
Tickets: $20/$15 Dancehouse members & concession
Bookings: 03 9347 2860 or info@dancehouse.com.au
Websites: http://dancehouse.com.au/performance/spring.php

you tube experiment

Tuesday, September 19th, 2006

well, it’s not so much an experiment as a trial. i just thought i’d have a go and upload one of our videos to you tube to see how it all went. so, if you’re interested, you can view it here, or view it embedded into the post itself:

The whole process was fairly straightforward. Signing-up, email confirmation, title, description, categories and upload. I’m also impressed that the conversion didn’t completely degrade the video quality.

May upload the rest of the videos to You Tube and save some of our bandwidth!


research and business

Tuesday, July 18th, 2006

Currently Jacob and I are in Perth.

I am undertaking a residency at P.I.C.A. with Simon Ellis and Paea Leach.  You can read about the research and development we’ve been engaged in at our blog here. There are a number of small outcomes from the last 3 weeks including a selection of 2 second films.

On returning to Melbourne I will continue to work with Simon and Paea as well as Shannon Bott on the SOLOS project. Jacob and I are currently storyboarding and rehearsing She Be with Amber Haines and Lily Paskas working towards the shoot in late September. We are also planning a short performance season – impression, comparison, perspective – and putting together a season with State of Flux for the end of the year.

That’s all the news for the moment.


PS Jacob is here i Perth for other reasons!

reviews from Excavate May 2006

Tuesday, June 13th, 2006

The season of Excavate: A two man dig presented by the Australian Choreographic Centre received a preview and two reviews. Below are the scans of each – you can click to get a bigger version as an image. The text is also at the bottom of the post.

Excavate Reviewruffell reviewExcavate review - Margaret Jolley –  Excavate review - Zsuzsanna Soboslay

Passion, Indignity, Distress and Devotion

Excavate: A two man dig
Reviewed by Celeste Tripodi
The Canberra Review, May 25 2006

Dance is a form of baring one’s soul. Even the most introverted person can shine through dance. When the dance is improvisational, something else happens – you reveal your innermost naturalness through the external body.
A white screen at the back of the stage exposed a single sentence, “What you risk reveals what you value.” I saw this when Corbet and Lehrer performed “Excavate” in September of last year but this time it had an effect on me. In this one sentence I saw where Lehrer and Corbet found their strength.
“Excavate” has been an evolving journey for the duo who have danced and performed together for over 12 years. I arrived with the unconscious intention to compare this show to what I had previously witnessed, but within the first moments I knew this would be an impossible task. It was a completely different performance.
Lehrer and Corbet’s unravelling of character was elevated and sublime in expression. They revealed later that they don’t go on stage with an overt meaning. It happens however it happens, and every individual draws something unique and special from their experience.
Part of the excitement and appeal is that the performers are also unaware, themselves, of where the journey will take them. “You are yourself,” as Lehrer states. Well, Lehrer and Corbet are themselves poetical. There’s the sensation of intimacy as they listen deeply to each other’s bodies. They play with sensation, timing and listening, but mostly with relationships and the hidden emotions and language within them. There is no fairytale happy ending to the journey of a relationship and they don’t pretend that there is. It is a process of passion, indignity, distress and above all devotion.
As a show that “came from nothing”, as Corbet puts it, he and Lehrer have certainly built a rhythmical whirlwind.

Man’s risky manoeuvres

Review by Larry Ruffell.
The Canberra Times. Thursday May 18, 2006.

With any improvised work done by experienced artists, it is difficult to distinguish past experience from new directions without prior knowledge of the artists’ work, and so it was with thie performance.

There were moments where David Corbet and Jacob Lehrer were clearly taking some risks as evidenced by some hesitation before embarking on a lift or a fall, while an occasional facial grimace suggested some pain was involved.

At the same time, there were some thematic movements which recurred throughout the performance, and there was structure, dynamic pace, full use of the space in all three dimensions, and the use of a little soft instrumental musical accompaniment, all of which indicated premeditation.

Such a dichotomy might not matter were it not promoted as “spontaneous” or “real-time” choreography, implying risk as well as limitation, and on that basis, it was an impressive achievement.

Performed mostly in silence in a bare studio, except for a small screen onto which some key statements were projected, Corbet and Lehrer alternated between individual and duo passages, the initiative taken first by one and then the other.

It was when they came together that it became interesting to watch as they each switched from active to passive, from actor to reactor.

It reminded me a little of and American group called Pilobolus whose hallmark was sustained, rather gymnastic progressions. Similarly, there was no attempt at expression or representation in the narrative sense, so the performance took on a dream-like quality, of unknown figures moving without our knowing why.

The statements tended to compound the incomprehension, starting with “What we risk reveals what we value”. Does it? Would you say that of a young driver overtaking on the brow of a hill?

In the end I admired the trust and rapport between the two men, and the structure they brought to a minimally planned hour of joint movement. I thought of the two Beaconsfield miners whose mutual support probably helped save their lives, which gave some (unintended) meaning to the title of this performance.

Dance Australia
August/September 06, page 48.

Excavate: A Two Man Dig
The Australian Choreographic Centre
Reviewed by Margaret Jolley

David Corbet and Jacob Lehrer choose to describe their performances as instances of “real time choreography”. They feel the word “improvisation” may carry inappropriate connotations of flippancy.  Their perception of their method as seriously strenuous – both physically and mentally – is reflected in the title of the piece – Excavate: A two man dig.  The obvious reference here is to manual labour – an allusion carried through in the costuming (Yakka trousers and work shirts). But the title also reflects their avowed psychological task of “unearthing the past… brushing away layers on themes of relationship, history, intimacy and human nature”, an exploration that draws on their 10 year collaboration.

Given the nature of their work, the performance that I viewed was a one-off, a unique version of a set of two man digs. It began in a silence that lasted almost half of the 50 minutes, followed by some gentle orchestral music. A basic structure of alternating solo and duo episodes emerged, the latter proving the most engaging.  In these interactive passages, both an arresting physicality and the intrigue of real time choreography came to the fore.  The two bodies blended, responding to each other at an apparently intuitive level, at times bearing each other’s weight with a physical endurance that denoted a heavy psychological burden. The solo passages suffered a little in comparison, with less interesting and more repetitive movement vocabulary, moments of undisciplined technique, and the effort of constant invention proving a more noticeable strain.

The emotional tone of this performance was intense and unremittingly dark. A sort of narrative seemed suggested – the portrayal of a relationship filled with the angst of dependency. The intimacy of this relationship was laid bare, giving a sense of voyeurism as we witnessed a grown man struggling to cradle another in his arms.

A small screen with projected text provided the sole element of set.  For me, the phrases such as “what you risk reveals what you value”, “you can’t help but worry”, and “frontal bone, cheek bone, mandible” were an irritating and somewhat banal distraction. Despite this, I was initially drawn quite deeply into the performance – a noteworthy achievement given the sparsity of design, music and lighting effects. The focus of Corbet and Lehrer, and their visceral response to each other was initially riveting.  But unfortunately this didn’t last. It seemed to me that the portrayed relationship and the source of the choreographic ideas had both run their course well before the performance ended.

Apparently the music and/or text may change from night to night.  The obvious question is – just how much does the choreography change? How many moves are unique, spontaneously fashioned on the spot, and how many, if any, are “spontaneously” drawn from a (perhaps even subconsciously compiled) store of rehearsed sequences? Does this matter? How should the assessment of real time choreography differ from that for a rehearsed performance? Such questions provide serious fodder for debate.

Excavate: A two man dig was presented as part of the Australian Choreographic Centre’s “Ricky Manoeuvres” program.  The word “risk” also featured in the projected text. Contact improvisation is indeed a risky business, with performers stripped of the safety net of premeditation and rehearsal. This element of risk without doubt adds edge to the performances. The downside is that it precludes the structural coherence and technical assurance that result from planning, rehearsing and editing. Improvisation may also provide performers with a valuable path to self-knowledge. While this might be rewarding for them, it does not always lead to a satisfying audience experience.

Two for one
Zsuzsanna Soboslay sees David Corbet & Jacob Lehrer

Are there really It and Other? Or really no It and Other.
Zhuangzi, Inner Chapters, 4th century BC

Two bodies, David Corbet and Jacob Lehrer, traverse the darkened space from separate sides of the room. There are qualities that reflect the dancers’ histories: the studios of Melbourne, London, Sydney and companies such as Strange Fruit, DV8, and Born in a Taxi. Their bodies are marked—and marked very well—by these practices, bullets marked by the calibre of the barrels through which they’ve been fired.

Full text available online by clicking here.

New video online

Tuesday, June 6th, 2006

Just quickly, there’s a new video up on the media section of this website. It’s a 12min extract from Making Contact, the season we did at Dancehouse in April this year.

The dancers are: Andrew Harwood, Judit Keri, David Corbet and Jacob Lehrer

The musicians are: Rae Howell and Alies Sluiter  The lighting designer is: Monique Aucher
For your convenience you can watch it by clicking on the image below (pop up).

making contact - extract