Byron Perry

I Like This is the first show for The Next Move, a series of performances created by the next generation of Australian dance makers and presented by Chunky Move. The work has been created by choreographers and performers Antony Hamilton and Byron Perry, who have been described by Australian Stage Online arts writer, Nikki Thomas, as setting “a high benchmark with their extraordinary creative vision and execution.”

Debuting in Melbourne on 20 November 2008, Anna Lozynski spoke to Byron Perry before opening night.  



Byron Perry & Antony Hamilton 1. I Like This is being marketed as a “strange documentary”. What is the inspiration for this first show for The Next Move?
Basically we set out to make a work without a theme or idea as the catalyst, a sort of stylised on-stage documentary, so if the work is 'about' anything then it is essentially about itself. The piece is semi auto-biographical in that the audience observes the cast in the throes of the creative process. Antony and I appear on stage seemingly directing and editing the work the same time it is being performed. It is not really a narrative work in the sense that the passage of time is in anyway important or transforming for the characters within the work. I would like to think it resembles the work of David Lynch in that it is a sort of 'happening'; a blend of fantasy and reality. It is a work that is much more about the tone and rhythm of the elements than about their order or meaning. We have tried to capture the excitement and mutability of creative thought alongside the awkwardness, fear and paranoia that is part and parcel of any creativity project.

2. What did the performers find most challenging about the work during rehearsals?

There was quite a lot of improvising over the first 3 or 4 weeks of the process and that can be quite draining on a day to day level. Although it's generally when the performers seem to have the most fun so I guess they have to take the good with the bad. We also recorded interviews with the dancers and then created tight rhythmic video edits with repeated words, jump cuts and sharp stabs of pieces of sentences and the performers learned back the movements and text incredibly accurately over a few weeks. It took them quite a long time to get a handle on that material, so that would probably be one of the more difficult tasks they had to deal with.

3. What can the audience expect to take away from the work?

They are free to take whatever they want or need from it. Hopefully they walk away with the same sort of grin I have each time we run it.

4. Why did you decide to call the piece, I Like This? Were there any squabbles between the two of you in relation to finalising the name?
Yes in fact we never actually decided on any of the names that either of us came up with. We had to wait until a friend came to our first development showing and liked the opening line in the work 'I Like This' they suggested we call it that...we couldn't find anything to argue about so we went with it.

5. In the emotional hierarchy, it seems “like” is love’s less developed emotional sister, but how do you both interpret this word, “like”?

There is no deeper meaning or interpretation necessary than the one that people already have for the word, 'I Like This' means exactly that. It means that this looks appealing, that I am interested in this thing and think that I might enjoy it.

6. What do you think prevents us from being able genuinely communicate to one another?

The answer is different for each individual. It's a shared experience that we can all relate to in some way. We are definitely not trying to find an answer to this question in the work.

7. Given it is the first show for The Next Move, were there any unexpected obstacles?

No, not really, everything went very smoothly in terms of our working relationship with Chunky Move. They have such a great history and a wealth of experience as a company with getting work off the ground that it all went incredibly well. It was a God send to have the support of that infrastructure so that we could just focus on the making of the work and all credit to Gideon [Obarzanek] for trusting two guys who explained to him that our theme/concept for the work is to not have one.
{xtypo_quote_right}
Choreography seems to me somehow more alive than the other art forms I am interested in... it lives and breathes with the people who perform it each night and because of that it has a fragility that an object never can{/xtypo_quote_right}
8. This is not your first collaboration. However, name two things you learned about one another during the course of this project which you did not previously know. 

Well we know that our working relationship is healthier and much more robust than we might have expected in the beginning. We can speak to each other in an incredibly honest and open way without fear of the other taking it the wrong way. We are more like brothers than friends in many ways.

9. You both already have impressive credentials as dancers and visual artists with, among others, Green Room Awards in the male dancing category. Byron, you are also an avid photographer. What draws each of you to choreography compared to the other artistic forms with which you are involved?

Choreography seems to me somehow more alive than the other art forms I am interested in. In saying that I mean it is never entirely completed in the way that a photo, drawing or painting is finished. It lives and breathes with the people who perform it each night and because of that it has a fragility that an object never can. I also have found that the process of making work, the nuts and bolts of why this scene works and why that one doesn't, is incredibly slippery. It's a form where experience and instinct are more important than rules and logic. One can't rely on something working because it has before.

10. Recently, the inclusion of dialogue into Two Faced Bastard (Chunky Move’s contribution to the Melbourne International Arts Festival) was met with disdain. What are your views on blurring the division (if any) between dancing and acting?

On the whole, my experience of the audiences’ reaction to Two Faced Bastard was that they loved it. My view is that you should use whichever tools are necessary to create the kind work that you are interested in making. If those ideas are better served through movement, or text, or a combination of both, or neither, then you do what the work tells you. The problem some people have with text in a dance piece comes essentially I believe from errors in the construction of the work and the relationship between the elements rather than any inherent incompatibility with the two forms. It is true that the two forms have different strengths and are tricky to put together well but they are not mutually exclusive. Text can be made abstract and rhythmic and dance can convey meaning and information although these are not necessarily the easiest things to do.

11. Finally, what do you each now know that you wish you had discovered at the beginning of your career?

That anything has creative possibilities and that what you think is your worst problem can be a solution in itself.


I Like This is playing at the Chunky Move Studios until Nov 29. Further information»



Photo -
Top right - (l-r) Byron Perry & Antony Hamilton

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