Massive showcase of theatre and dance

Contemporary dance festival Dance Massive is back this month to celebrate a decade of showcasing some of the world's most provocative choreography. Over 50 events, viewers can experience theatre, dance, art and discussion that tackles confronting and exciting themes. Highlights include:

Common Ground by Chunky Move artistic director Anouk van Dijk evokes the birth of ballet to turn the stage into a choreographic game of chess.

Mar 13-17, Malthouse, Merlyn Theatre, 113 Sturt Street, Southbank

Same but Different disproves the notion that all Indigenous dance is the same by showcasing four First Nation female artists who tell stories through dance, albeit in different ways.

Mar 13-23, Meat Market, 5 Blackwood Street, North Melbourne

First Dance brings together storytellers and performers to combine movement and writing to conjure up varied memories of that first, fateful dance.

Mar 18, North Melbourne Town Hall, 521 Queensberry Street, North Melbourne

The Tennis Piece world premiere is Atlanta Eke's approach to tackling anxieties of technology by combining dance and installation to take the audience to a pivotal event in the French Revolution.

Mar 19-21, Collingwood Town Hall, 140 Hoddle Street, Collingwood

Biladurang is an award-winning confessional solo described as the perfect "theatre-dance one-night stand" by Joel Bray.

Mar 19-24, Sofitel Melbourne on Collins, 25 Collins Street, Melbourne

Chunky Move's Next Move choreography inspires again

Next Move 11
Lauren Langlois and Joel Bray
Chunky Move Studios
Until 17 November

Now in its eleventh season, Chunky Move's Next Move program identifies and supports emerging choreographic talent. Next Move alumni are some of the most interesting and successful contemporary choreographers around, and the addition of Lauren Langlois and Joel Bray to this community bodes extremely well for the future.

James Vu Ahn Pham, in Lauren Langlois' Nether, part of Chunky Move's Next Move 11. Image: Morgan Roberts

James Vu Ahn Pham, in Lauren Langlois' Nether, part of Chunky Move's Next Move 11. Image: Morgan Roberts

Langlois' Nether and Bray's Dharawungara are two very different works in form, approach, physical expression and in the accompanying media that the choreographers highlight alongside their own dancing bodies. However, they both take risks without abandoning a scaffolding of clearly articulated structures. In their own ways, both works are a reflection of lineage and history: for Langlois, through a movement signature that threads through her work, and for Bray, as a reflection on and of his heritage as a Wiradjuri man.

Nether opens the program with sharp beams of light that expand to divide the stage into liminal, malleable and artificial segments. Langlois and fellow dancer James Vu Ahn Pham slip between these worlds, and as they move, it is almost as though their bodies and movements are fragmented by the passages. Langlois toys with the grotesque and the beautiful, but what is most effective in this work is the way she uses the dynamic shifts between stillness and movement in unexpected ways.

Joel Bray in Dharawungara, part of Chunky Move's Next Move 11. Image: Pippa Samaya

Joel Bray in Dharawungara, part of Chunky Move's Next Move 11. Image: Pippa Samaya

Bray's Dharawungara also plays with dynamic shifts, as he draws the audience into his story with humour and pathos. In this work, Bray performs his own version of a Wiradjuri rite of passage, lamenting through movement, story and sound a ritual that was stolen from his family, and therefore one that he has never seen or participated in. Bray reclaims and reinterprets this traditional rite through the context of performance and theatre. He is accompanied by sound artist Naretha Williams, and the journey is deeply emotional to witness.

Both Bray and Langlois are exceptional performers and dancers, and in Next Move 11, both have put forward strong choreographic statements that claim space for themselves as art makers. As Chunky Move moves into a new phase (artistic director Anouk van Dijk will be leaving the company) we can only hope that this important program will continue.