A new work brings together two performers, both acclaimed in their fields, to challenge the separation between music and dance. Titled Recital, the work references both performers’ individual discipline, but is ultimately a piece outside of any individual silo.
Claire Edwardes, a percussionist and leader and founder of Ensemble Offspring, and Richard Cilli, formerly of Sydney Dance Company but now working as an independent artist, found each other’s work through an organic process of mutual discovery.
“Richard was introduced to me through a composition colleague,” recalled Edwardes. “He started coming to quite a lot of Ensemble Offspring concerts and likewise I checked out his work at Sydney Dance Company.”
In turn, both found inspiration and creative potential in seeing the other perform.
“There was something about the physicality that [Edwardes] had performing in percussion that made me really interested as a dancer,” noted Cilli.
Three years ago, these connections took their next step when Cilli and Edwardes began to formally work together. Now committed to producing a work, the differences in artistic processes became more apparent. Exploring these further, both Cilli and Edwardes found the undefined middle group to have creative potential.
“We wanted to call it Recital [so] that the audience perceives it as a traditional concert recital, but very quickly there's this sort of air of something a little bit weird going on,” highlighted Edwardes.
“This strange relationship starts to develop between the two of us that really does reflect the intricacies of collaboration, and particularly inter art form collaboration,” added Cilli.
Guided by director Gideon Obarzanek and with help from electronic musician Paul Mac, the process was defined by its collaboration, in this way being much closer to the process of improvisation that occurs in the production of musical works.
“In a dance world a choreographer would have an idea and then approach performers to come and realise that idea for them, but it's happened the other way around,” described Cilli.
On the other hand, the physicality of touch and bodily interactions that would almost never occur in a musical concert are freely explored in Recital. Creating a world of their own has led to a new creative landscape, somewhere between dance and music, as Cilli noted.
“There is dancing and there is music, but where we meet is on neither of those territories, so it's in a terrain that is unfamiliar to both of us.”
Presenting such a work that is outside of the formalised conventions of any one discipline takes a leap of faith from the production team and those supporting the performance. Presented by FORM Dance Projects as part of March Dance, a new festival that is highlighting the wealth of talent in the independent dance sector in Sydney, both Edwardes and Cilli emphasised that this production could not have occurred outside of this context, and would not have been possible except in the independent sector.
As Edwardes noted, “These things don't happen in a vacuum. We've had a lot of people along the way support us hugely and even for me, as someone who's presented a lot of my own work with Ensemble Offspring, it's been a real learning curve in terms of how much it takes to get these things off the ground.”
Additional funding from the project has come from Creative Partnerships Australia through the Australian Cultural Fund and the Australia Council for the Arts, while Edwardes and Paul Mac were able to use a residency at the Bundanon Trust to develop the compositions that served as a guiding force for the production. After premiering at FORM, the production will tour to The SUBSTATION in Melbourne as part of Dance Massive. These networks of support are what make a production such as this conceivable.
Taking audiences and performers outside of their routines and rituals is not easy, but it is a project that Edwardes and Cilli have embarked on.
To find out more and book tickets, head to FORM’s website: https://www.form.org.au/recital/.