Martin del Amo
Martin del Amo, originally from Germany, is a Sydney-based dancer and choreographer.
He is best known for his full-length solos, fusing idiosyncratic movement and intimate storytelling. These include It’s a Jungle Out There (2009), Never Been This Far Away From Home (2007) and Under Attack (2005), all of which received significant critical acclaim. In recent years, Martin has extended his practice to choreographing group works and solos for others including Anatomy of an Afternoon (2012), Mountains Never Meet (2011) and various solos for his ongoing multi-part choreographic project, Slow Dances For Fast Times.
Martin regularly teaches for a wide range of arts organisations and companies and has extensively worked as mentor and consultant on projects initiated by young and emerging artists.
He also writes and regularly contributes to RealTime magazine.
Martin has been nominated for two Australian Dance Awards – Outstanding Achievement in Independent Dance (2010) and Best Male Dancer (2005). His work has toured nationally and internationally (UK, Japan, Brazil).
' What Remains' Stored/Restored, 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
Martin del Amo - What Remains
FAMILY is a collection of dance solo works by 2ndToe Dance collective that explore notions and concepts of family on a universal scale. Each piece pulls apart and examines how each artist has been influenced and shaped by his or her own experiences. Audience members are invited into an active exchange comprising all things fundamentally enjoyable and important about being surrounded by other Folk. Watch, eat, drink and share this special event.
2NDTOE - Family
28 August - 1 Setember 2013
Choreographer/Performers: Benjamin Hancock, Frankie Snowdon, James Andrews, Madeleine Krenek
Artistic Directors: Adam Wheeler
Producer: Kristy Ayre
"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