#34 A dance retold by Emma Porteus
#34 A dance retold by Emma Porteus

A dance retold.

You take a moment to get comfortable. Find yourself becoming still. Focus on your breath. A sense of inhaling and filling up. Exhaling, and letting go. You arrive in your body, in this moment, untangling yourself from your day. Feel yourself become present.

Let your eyes unfocus, as the dappled light washes across you. You hear the birds calling to each other in the still morning air, serenading the sunrise. Imagine a feather, gently floating from side to side as it falls to the earth. It’s cradled by the sand as it lands. The salty air reminds you of a moment from your childhood. You walk into the ocean and your breath catches as the water laps at your thighs. Submerge yourself and look up to the sky. Enjoy the feeling of being weightless. You emerge from the ocean and savour the feeling of warmth from the air and your towel. The taste of the sea dries to small crystals on your cheek.

You remember sitting on the floor of the kitchen, about two years old. Nan hands you a lemonade icy pole. Your first memory. You smell the sweet, woody fragrance of vanilla. It reminds you of your other grandmother’s rice pudding. Remember making this with her in the kitchen of her house, a few streets back from the beach? Soft, chewy grains of rice, a perfect end to the day. A warm living room. Sitting curled on the floor around a small TV. Sticky car rides, leather seats, and fighting with your brother for the glory of sitting in the front.

You begin. You begin on that kitchen floor. You begin in that country hall. You begin on the beach. You begin alone. The maiden, the queen, the witch, the lover, the sage, the mother. Or not the mother. The thought of being a mother. One moving the other. The follower becomes the follower becomes the follower becomes the leader. Forever trying to copy. Seeking to become the perfect example of something. Or the perfect example of nothing.

You remember practicing. Every night. Alone. Trying to get the steps right, trying to shape your body in the right way, trying to perfectly replicate form and essence. Your imagination was always your most powerful tool. You remember being told you were good, but not good enough.

How do you learn to embody something? Can you learn to embody something? What does it mean to embody something? How do you learn to disembody? We are all somebody and nobody at the same time. Vessels that contain mostly water and complex thoughts. Vessels that collect, copy and trace to find meaning. Collecting pebbles from each place you visit, a memento to remind you of the journey it took to get there. Another location to tick off your map of the world that hangs in the spare room.

Do you know your true north? Or are you guided by what’s below. Underneath? Look up in the clear night sky. Find the southern cross. See the two pointers, guiding the way. Find the southernmost star of the cross and imagine a line running from here to the horizon.

Now imagine a line running through the middle of the two pointers, also towards the horizon.

Send your mind far, far out into darkest space and imagine a point where these two lines meet.

This is your true south.

Screendance draws together dance with film to render an ephemeral artform into something that can be shared, replayed, and manipulated. It plays with the choreography of editing and orchestrates how the audience engages with the movement in wonderful ways. What I love about engaging with dance in any form is that it asks you to integrate your knowing, rational self with your physical, emotional self. It asks you to feel, rather than think, and it’s from this place I’ve responded to A Dance Retold. It’s a collection of memories, responses, and feelings to the themes embodied in the work.

Emma Porteus believes deeply in the power of art to positively transform both people and communities. She has over 20 year’s experience working as a performance maker and producer on dance, community and festival projects throughout Australia and Internationally, including with Vrystaat Festival (South Africa), ANTI Festival (Finland), Sydney Festival (NSW) Dancehouse, FOLA, Melbourne Fringe Festival, Next Wave (Vic), Tracks (NT), Dark Mofo, Mona Foma, Tasdance, Ten Days on the Island, Festival of Voices, Junction Arts Festival and Tasmania Performs (Tas).

In her current role as Co-Creative Director of Assembly 197 and Executive Producer of Situate Art in Festivals, she is really interested in performance and art-making models that connect people and places. Assembly 197 creates tourable live, visual art and festival events that produce rich experiences that speaks directly to the place, the people, and communities who help create it.

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