Melbourne Festival 2011
Elisabeth Murdoch Hall, Melbourne Recital Centre
6 - 8 October, 2011
WINNER OF TWO 2011 GREEN ROOM AWARDS: Betty Pounder Award for Choreography (Gideon Obarzanek) and Sound and Music Composition and/or Performance (Cast of Assembly)
One of Australia’s greatest choreographers, Gideon Obarzanek, presents his final work as head of Chunky Move with Assembly.
Devised by Obarzanek in partnership with Music Director Richard Gill (Victorian Opera), Assembly investigates the enigmatic motion of crowds. Integrating dance with theatrical and operatic performance, this grand piece involves over sixty performers on stage – with the entire cast choreographed into an awesome mixture of movement and voice. As striking patterns evolve from chaotic rabbles, musical harmony emerges from dissonant voices. Combining the force and agility of Chunky Move’s dancers with waves of choral music, ranging in source from ancient to contemporary, Assembly’s action shifts between mesmeric visualisations of crystalline order and the unpredictable clamour of the seething mob.
Obarzanek has been acclaimed for his use of technology and stagecraft to create crossdisciplinary works that push at the borders of dance performance. Assembly sees him return to a more stripped-back approach for this powerful exploration of our role as individuals in the human throng. The lovechild of an unprecedented partnership between two premier companies, Assembly is a historic work on an epic scale.
Director & Choreographer Gideon Obarzanek
Music Director Richard Gill
Lighting Designer Nick Schlieper
Costume Designer Harriet Oxley
Set Designers Gideon Obarzanek & Chris Mercer
Assistant Choreographer Stephanie Lake
Assistant Music Director Daniel Carter
Casselle Bonollo / Olivia Cranwell / Frederica Cunningham / Tobias Glaser / Jeremy Kleeman / Matthew Thomas / Daniel Todd
DURATION: 60 minutes (no interval)
Assembly Highlights Footage
ASSEMBLY REHEARSAL FOOTAGE
A NOTE FROM GIDEON OBARZANEK
Working together with dancers and singers has been a great privilege. Transcending their individual selves as they sing and dance is an ever-wondrous phenomenon. They flux between the tangible and intangible.
I thought this show was going to be about crowds, but it seems to be more about a need to experience something greater than one’s own individual self. It is not so much about loneliness, but rather a desire to be absorbed into something bigger. Sometimes it is possible in a cheering crowd, in a singing choir or dancing with complete surrender. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does it feels great.
Witnessing a crowd, my vocational compulsion as a choreographer is to analyse spatial and moving patterns of bodies, rather than trying to understand the motive of the drama unfolding. An excited football crowd behaves as a single organism, people trying to talk over one another become a sonic texture, a person standing still in a moving throng becomes a disturbing figure – a dreaded point of no return.
Listening to singing is similar. I don’t listen for words – I can’t remember them. I respond to the tone and shape of sound. Originally I imagined working with more contemporary music for Assembly, but it was the abstract in early-music singing that I was drawn to most. Its resonance generates exquisite feelings and in its presence I feel connected to something greater than myself. It is not the words, it is the sound – the sound of something both vastly infinite yet also a singular thread. It is perfect symmetry across scale, a powerful and colossal universe and an immaculately fragile crystal. To me, this sound looks like a mandala.
But Assembly is not all about harmony. Here there is a tension between collective and individual actions, where they are in conflict and also when they become as one – a kind of flocking behaviour, movements rippling from one to another. This is cumulatively moving in itself and when voices are added, it’s almost overwhelming. On stage, a staircase is a public space where individuals are rendered anonymous, their individuality unfolding as we watch and take notice. Organised public behaviour dissolves and shifts into articulate explorations of tension between alienation and connection. It’s important that the aggression is here too – it’s not always benign – that this gathering expresses loneliness as much as communality.
Richard Gill’s enthusiasm and energy is infectious. His singers’ readiness to throw themselves into the middle of a dance work has been as courageous as Richard’s own decision for Victorian Opera to team up with Chunky Move. Our works always require a large undertaking by many people, so it has been particularly satisfying to be so rewarded and inspired in creating this one. Thank you.
Assembly Production Images
CLICK HERE to view the STVDIO TV Assembly clip.
Assembly Main Photo Juan Genovés, courtesy Marlborough Gallery, New York
Assembly Production Photos by Jeff Busby
This project has been assisted by the Australian Government’s Major Festivals Initiative, managed by the Australia Council its arts funding and advisory body, in association with the Confederation of Australian International Arts Festivals Inc., Melbourne Festival, Sydney Festival and Brisbane Festival.