Mischa Baka

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Rebekah Rehearsal

September 23, 2018 0
Rebekah Rehearsal

Rebekah ran such a beautiful rehearsal with an engaging warm up from Dale. Rebekah’s direction was clear and assured. She gave her words and thoughts space to be contemplated. She gave assurance to her cast by backing her directions with a calm and present demeanour. It showed in the cast who relished her direction and explored what she was asking with boldness, bravery and full heartedness.

One of the great strengths of Rebekah’s work is how dedicated the actors become under her guidance. Watching how completely they commit to the performance is beautiful.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Billie McCarthy Takes Up Space

September 22, 2018 1
Billie McCarthy Takes Up Space

Billie McCarthy, Kate and Julia at High School/  Ms Boon art class.

I went to high school with Billie, and now I was going to her cabaret show almost two decades later. Her show is called Billie takes up space. She tells stories and sings songs that include her experiences of being identified as ‘fat’ and living in her skin. She recalls experiences from her childhood, high school and adulthood.

I recalled my own memories with Billie from high school, we would sometimes keep each other company in the school grounds, café or an occasional visit to her house.

I recall laying on the grass with Billie in the park and giving each other intimate face massages. This was the type of intimacy that was significant as a teenager. Moments like this in the park felt defining. I was at an age when small interactions such as a friendly hug, a kiss on the cheek or an intimate conversation was enough to shape your sense of self; what I could or couldn’t do as a person. Can I have that type of intimacy with another person, am I worthy.

Billie reflected on her time time in high school and how her body played into these defining moments. I remember that in a performing arts school, there was a keen sense of how beauty and charisma could define who we were and our path in life.

Billie joked about being the best friend of a beautiful, slim, goddess girl in school, and having to listen to all the boys as they confided in her about their love for that friend. But how that love never seemed to be directed her way. I confess, I couldn’t remember who this friend might have been in high school, all the girls seemed so beautiful and spectacular. It was true that Billie moved in a crowd that was particularly charming.

I remember Billie being beautiful and charming and seemingly perfectly suited to her group of friends.

Later in Billies stories she speaks of a trip to New York where she feels appreciated in a way that didn’t seem forthcoming in Australia. She received more attention from men and it was both exciting and challenging. The type of attention that is laced with the potential to turn possessive and aggressive at any moment.

This story became harrowing, and it is difficult to hear how a friend has struggled and come so close to a type of annihilation. I felt for Billie, I wanted to give her a hug. In this moment, her music and voice gave so much depth and feeling to her story.

I love Billie, her musical and dramatic skill is intrinsic, it appears to come so naturally. With this show I felt so grateful that she has managed to cultivate and maintain the magic she shares with the world, even though at times, the world has made it difficult. Her ability to open up and share her touching vulnerability is so brave and generous, and in this show we learn that it is sometimes risky and dangerous and hard to keep giving that to the world. I’m so glad she shares her magic with us.

Billie McCarthy Takes Up Space
Written and Performed by:
Billie McCarthy
Created and Performed by:
Andrew Bruce, Nick Meredith
Fringe Hub: Lithuanian Club - Ballroom
Melbourne Fringe 2018
Billie McCarthy high school /Mischa Baka
Charlotte, Natalia, Camilla, Peter, Billie McCarthy and Kate at my 16th/17th? Birthday Party Mischa Baka

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

City baths squash court dance

September 18, 2018 1
City baths squash court dance
Ben Woodman, Ben Hurley, Leah Landau City Baths Melbourne 2018

I was Invited to observe a work in progress by Leah Landau with dancers Thomas Woodman and Ben Hurley. With camera.

I walked into a squash court with a very brief introduction and no conversation about what’s about to happen, or even, why I am there. Three dancers including Leah shared some brief ideas about how to proceed with their work and then began to move about the space taking their choreographic cues from laptops placed on the floor.

I enjoyed the ease of which I was granted to walk into this project and observe. A small smile shared with Ben Hurly was permission granted to start filming.

I sometimes lament how artists can speak too much before doing anything, perhaps from fear that any action will be misunderstood or cause offense and provoke judgment. People generally spend a lot of time deflecting judgment before anything worth judging has even happened. So, it was a pleasure just to watch a work unfold before my eyes, feeling the history of Leah’s process in the work but not necessarily understanding what brought the dancers to this point.

I know that in my own work there can be a tendency to over explain, facilitate and inform cast and crew, for fear that they will feel lost or judge what’s going on.

This moment with Leah reminded me of films where the audience is thrown into a ritual without understanding the rules. A type of logic is discernible, but it appears completely abstract to the un initiated. Part of the pleasure is figuring it out.

Of course, once the intentions and parameters of the ritual to become known, that judgment so feared, soon follows, is this ritual of value? Does it serve and nourish all the participants? Or is it just indulging the leader. Are the participants just serving the leaders wishes?

When after the run through Leah spoke of feeling “ excited,” It felt like it was a personal experience she was sharing with a cast unsure of their own feelings. But often this is the case with a leader, and sometimes it’s enough for an actor or dancer to excite their director without knowing exactly how they did it. Or perhaps, they are spurred on by the director’s excitement because it does present as a mystery to be uncovered. Surely a splendid moment will arise when you have the same insight as the director, the same excited feeling. Maybe that’s when they become a real leader, they have shown you a path, and you have arrived.

So what is Leah’s work about. In a brief conversation while she got on her bike and had to rush away, still maintaining a sense of mystery, she said, it’s about, “ Trying to recreate moments from the past,” Hence the dancers watching the screens trying to recreate the choreography in the moment.

People responding to screens is such a relatable image on the stage, it’s immediately speaking to how we are all trapped by the screens that dominate our lives and inform our movements, language and thoughts. I wonder if this understanding will add to the work or steer peoples understanding, does it matter.

I love Leah’s dance work, her movements and actions always strike me as vital, as if performed in order to survive.
In this enclosed space of a squash court and further trapping the dancers in my gaze looking down on them, the choreography felt like a survival instinct, reaching for something beyond the space, the vision on the laptops perhaps, outside of time, they were grasping for a bit of freedom recreated within this captivity.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

The Other Shore

September 13, 2018 0
The Other Shore

A dance was performed as part of Rebekhas show opening.  This opened up a dialogue of movement and emotion with the works. I felt it gave the audience permission to think and feel more in response to the works. The dancers were inviting the audience to imagine how a work may speak to the heart, body and mind. 
Rebekhas choreographic direction: 

Wind: Ask the wind what it has to say to you.
Heat: Ask the heat what it has to say to you.
Cold: What does the cold say to you?
Water: What does the water say to you?
Air: What does the air say to you?