Martin del Amo
' What Remains' Stored/Restored as part of Reverb (1)
Martin del Amo: Slow Dances For Fast Times
Slow Dances for Fast Times is the dance equivalent of a concept album – one elaborate dance event comprising 12 intimate solo performances, intentionally fun and deliberately diverse.
Performed by an eclectic mix of high profile dancers and set against a stylized backdrop of mirror balls and velvet curtains, the work carefully contrasts the classical and the grand with the intimate and poetic. The result is a rich weave of textures, rhythms and sounds which traverses a broad spectrum of dance styles and cultural influences
The soundtrack of the works covers a diverse range of genres traversing international music hits over the past five decades, ranging from a 1960s soul track by Dusty Springfield to a 1970s rock anthem by Jimmy Hendrix. The music continues into the 1990s with dance club classics including tracks by Portishead and 2000s radio favourites by Regina Spektor and Antony and the Johnsons. The eclectic musical theme is completed with a Spanish torch song and even an operatic aria.
Choreographer Martin del Amo says ,“the work is ultimately a contrast of the grand and the intimate. On one hand, we are presenting a large, elaborate show in a classic dance recital setting. On the other, we are showing 12 solo performances which create an intimate moment of exchange between audiences and the dancer. It’s a play on traditional conventions of dance and asks audiences to question if those expectations can be shifted.”
Martin del Amo - Slow Dances For Fast Times
6 - 9 March 2013
Choreographer: Martin del Amo
Set & Costume Designer: Clare Britton
Lighting Designer: Matthew Marshall
Composer (Intro / Outro music) & Master of Sound: Marcus Whale
Dancers: Julie-Anne Long, Jane McKernan, Elizabeth Ryan, Raghav Handa, Vicki Van Hout, James Welsby, Sara Black, Jade Dewi Tyas Tunggal, Benjamin Hancock, Sean Marcs, Kirk Page, Luke Smiles
Dramaturg: Martyn Coutts
Video: Sam James
" This work is an eclectic showcase of 12 solo performances by some of the best dancers from the independent dance sector in Australia.
Slow Dances for Fast Times opened at the Carriageworks on March 6. As always when visiting Carriageworks I was impressed and grateful for the foresight and planning that has provided Sydney with a venue where contemporary ideas and issues can be explored using local and international artists from a range of cultures and communities.
Slow Dances embodies this spirit of exploration and diversity. It is described as the dance equivalent of a concept album and comprises 12 intimate and unique solo performances. Each of the performers comes from a distinctively different cultural and artistic background and is of varying ages and physicalities.
Martin Del Amo choreographed and directed the work and aptly describes the 12 solos as unique choreographic portraits. The dances are short theatrical vignettes and push the boundaries of what is generally thought of as contemporary dance. There is humour, drama and irreverence in the works and often an incongruity that implies defiance and a desire to break free of the expected.
A classic dance recital setting is created by decorating a generous stage with lavish red velvet curtains, a chequerboard floor and mirror ball lights. Del Amo says that this is in order to “create an intimate moment of exchange between audiences and the dancer”.
“It’s a play on traditional conventions of dance and asks audiences to question if those expectations can be shifted,” he explains.
The music can only be described as eclectic, and ranges from a 1960s soul track by Dusty Springfield to a 1970s rock anthem by Jimmy Hendrix. ABBA gets a mention as do Blondie and Jeff Buckley. Portishead, a Spanish torch song and a track composed by Mozart are thrown into the mix. The 12 solos culminate in a group performance to Anthony Callea’s The Prayer, dubbed the extra track.
This is a very interesting program and a must for anyone into the alternative dance movement."
Review: Slow Dances for Fast Times
"Anyone who admires Martin del Amo's work will know how personal his solo pieces are. They are made for not only his body and dancing style but the way his mind operates.
So it is a challenge to make new versions of some of these solos on other dancers, as well as creating new ones for the 12 performers in Slow Dances for Fast Times. As a whole, it is an interesting array of dance portraits, culminating in an amusing ensemble, but some dancers appear more comfortable with the choreography than others.
The music is eclectic: a selection of tracks ranging from Jimi Hendrix to one of Canteloube's songs from the Auvergne, to which Benjamin Hancock seems to be searching both as a theme and a way of nailing the piece, which actually makes it doubly interesting.
Jade Dewi Tyas Tunggal hits the spot delightfully in her slow vamp to a Spanish pop lament. Luke Smiles appears to have fun with what seems like perennial childhood in his runs, skips and hopscotch. Everyone I saw - missing one performer as this was the final dress rehearsal to avoid a clash of opening nights - gave performances of quality and commitment in a plush setting by Clare Britton. By Saturday, they may also be more assured."
Dance portraits by the dozen
"Designer Clare Britton creates a velvety vaudevillian palace. Red carpet, red curtains, roaming spotlights and rolling projected text create a place of history and burlesque. Already there lurks a joke, for del Amo’s choreographic repertoire is the antithesis of varietal entertainment. This contextual tension creates a coherent performance that slips between the serious and the silly, between the committed and the parodied.
Some of the ‘portraits’ navigate this tension with surety. This assurance is most notable in the last of the 12 solos, danced by Jane McKernan. While the sublime Kiri Te Kanawa sings Mozart, McKernan manages to simultaneously conjure del Amo’s signature minutiae and live up to the spectacle of the voice. Holding a static kinesphere throughout she makes minuscule adjustments, creating new physical stories, states and shapes out of the almost imperceptible, rearranging the lines of her body into bright and new contortions, born deep within. One foot is turned slightly in, one knee slightly bent, one arm held uncomfortably out, distended, making the subtle torture of unease while her head dances the dance of rapture. At times McKernan’s being is an orchestra of parts speaking to each other as she floats off kilter.
At other times these parts break away from each other as the deep seated pressure of excruciating movement makes apparent the tremors that are allowed to exist in del Amo’s world. This solo of seductive and rapturous crucifixion was a fine finish to a long show. Solos danced by Luke Smiles, Sara Black and Kirk Page are revisited versions of earlier works: “birthday present[s]” from del Amo to dancer friends. Involuted light heartedness becomes satiric as highly skilled dancers move about as children or chorus line drunks, in a display of anti-technique. This was made more patently clear in the ‘bonus track’ finale, a new ensemble choreography where the salient formations and styles of well known local dance companies are gently, fleetingly, but clearly lampooned.
Certain choreographic and political strands emerged from this evening’s retrospectivity: self-referencing, political possibilities of movement and commitment to clearly refined and recognisable physical techniques. Certain recurrent physicalities reveal del Amo’s choreographic proclivities: the gentle distortions of discomfort as bodies are drawn away from graceful wholeness. The circular transcriptions of space seen in the endless running round the floor patterns and in the arcing of dancers as they sweep around their own axis in that discombobulating ongoingness that makes these solos fade rather than end. Then there are those floating arms that trace, dangle and sway as body parts with mind. These arms are what most conjured the choreographer-body, making me miss Martin."
Martin del Amo, Slow Dances for Fast Times
"In Slow Dances for Fast Times Australian choreographer and dancer Martin del Amo brings his vision of contemporary dance to Sydney’s Carriageworks. This current performance continues Carriageworks’ commitment to encouraging and creating a space for creative, experimental and fringe works to be showcased.
Across a spectrum of 12 dance portraits, Martin del Amo explores and plays with the various faces of contemporary dance, reminding us that contemporary dance is not all abstraction and aesthetics. On the contrary, we discover through this work that it has the ability to make us laugh, cry, cringe, relate to and question.
Del Amo plays with his signature animalistic movements, placing each of his ‘animals’ firmly in their own particular environment. The strong naturalistic movement experienced in del Amo’s Anatomy of an Afternoon has shifted to a slightly more stylized level, and yet there remains a sense that we are in a zoo observing the rituals of particular animals in their own habitat.
Across these 12 solos del Amo creates a balanced and entertaining production – constantly leaving the audience wondering what will come next.
Elizabeth Ryan dancing to the Regina Spektor song Fidelity, opens the evening with a highly stylized and geometric piece where she moves within less than one square meter of floor space. Dressed semi-formally in high heels and a dress, Ryan uses her head, upper body and arms to create geometric shapes within which she seems to be confined, or within which she confines herself. As she balances delicately, at times on one leg, and slowly turns her head to catch the shafts of light, this is a preening bird matched by the delicate upbeat tempo of the music.
In contrast, Raghav Handa immediately draws us into an emotionally charged spiritual piece bringing to mind indigenous cultures. With music by Antony and the Johnsons, Handa explores his habitat with dignity and a strong, circling fluid attachment to the earth.
Abba’s The Day Before you Came provides the inspiration for the solo of a middle-aged office worker, portrayed by Julie-Anne Long. Long evokes the spiral of banality and eternal sameness of the working day, turning and moving around the space in her brown practical work shoes and tweed skirt. With maturity and elegance Long uses stylised balletic arm positions and carefully placed steps to draw us into a mesmerising spiral.
Jade Dewi Tyas Tunggal displays a humorous uncertainty ‘dancing’ to Spanish pop, Soy Infeliz, using dexterity and almost a Rowan Atkinson comic style in attempting to strike various dance poses whilst navigating her long structured evening dress.
With a showcase of diverse talent, Slow Dances for Fast Times demonstrates the breadth and depth of the local contemporary dance talent we have currently in Sydney. We see a diversity of experience and age as well as dancers of different shapes and sizes with plenty of multicultural flavour, allowing del Amo to forge a dialogue between the dance world and our contemporary city.
The minimalist sets and effective lighting means the eye is caught between watching the actual dancer or becoming captivated by the dancing shadows. Was this perhaps a deliberate foil by del Amo? As in Plato’s cave are we enraptured by the shadows of ideas or the infinite chaos of the real world? Does one remain in the actual/real world or escape to the abstract, aesthetic realm and avoid being confronted with some powerfully portrayed emotions?
Is he drawing an analogy of contemporary dance? For all its abstract and stylized beauty, the impetus and creative source is founded well and truly in real life – through the 12 portraits he explores loneliness, the daily humdrum of life, frustration, spirituality and humour.
Each dancer acquitted themselves with technical strength and an emotional range, connecting with the audience…no snoring from this full house of rapt attendees. Downside? Slow Dances for Fast Times was over all too soon despite it being a full 1.25 hours."
Slow Dances for Fast Times
Martin del Amo: What Remains/Stored Restored as part of REVERB 1
MELBOURNE FRINGE FESTIVAL unveils a sparkling program for Spring 2009
In a continuing take over of the city's streets, Melbourne Fringe will launch the first stage of the contemporary dance initiative REVERB. Martin del Amo and Brooke Stamp will work with emerging dancers Paula Lay, Frankie Snowdon and Benjamin Hancock to produce four new site-specific short dance works for unique sites, including Prahran train station and Bendigo's main streets.
Slow Dances For Fast Times, Part 3)
Short Sweet+Dance Sydney
Parade Theatres Kensington (NIDA)
April 13 - 17 2010
Late Night Lounge
Sydney Opera House
October 11 2010
What Remains/Stored Restored as part of REVERB 1
Melbourne Fringe Festival
Grattan Gardens Prahran
September 24 - October 11 2009
What Remains/Stored Restored as part of REVERB 1
Melbourne Fringe Festival
Bendigo Town Hall
September 23 2009
Choreographer: Martin del Amo
What Remains Performer: Benjamin Hancock
Stored Restored Performers: Benjamin Hancock, Gareth Hart, Paula Lay, Frankie Snowdon
"Benjamin Hancock was judged as Best Male Dancer. Ben performed a piece choreographed by Martin Del Amo entitled ‘What Remains’ which had the audience talking way after leaving the theatre, some controversial but mostly complimentary. It seemed everyone had a different opinion. Some thought he was a puppet without its’ strings, others a bird fresh out of the shell. Ambiguity and focus resulted in true art; leave them thinking."
SHORT SWEET + DANCE SYDNEY 2010