Private DancesPhotos - Jorge de Araujo

It’s not often that boutique beer and oysters come with the price of a ticket to a dance show. But within the realm of the Next Wave Festival, whose motto is No Risk Too Great, art practice is put into unusual contexts. Private Dances was more dance event than dance performance, with audience ushered into a swanky nightclub environment, watered and fed by friendly bar staff and individually led into various tents and crevices to view intimate and short live dance works and dance films. Most likely, nobody saw all of the 10 live shows and 6 films, but they got to talk about what they did experience with planted conversationalists working the room.

Curated by Natalie Cursio, it’s a brilliant concept and its logistic realization was a well-oiled machine by second night of the run. Audiences got up-close bursts of dance ranging from traditional Korean to contortion to hip hop, with performers, sometimes literally in their laps, or staring them closely in the eye.

Some acts created fully immersive, participatory environments that were worlds unto themselves. You and Me by Atlanta Eke required slow dancing with a gorilla, evoking awkward high school dances, embarrassment intensified once it’s revealed that another person was watching the bizarre duet. Private Parking by 2nd Toe Collective invited us into a camper van outside the building to watch a languid, dance trio within the seats of the car that reminded of hot, sticky summer afternoons. Probably the most bizarre and well-realised was The Happy Pony Club come in where a single audience member entered a tiny S & M dungeon, mounted a wooden rocking horse and slapped an oversized dildo while watching three near naked bodies perform sensual yoga sequences in front of blaring television screens.

Individual artists including Radhka Krishnamoorthy, Hee Eun Jeong, Gabrielle Nankivell and Jarred Dewey offered short snippets of their movement practices and engaged the audience with simple things like direct eye contact, virtuosic movement and even smell.

The short dance films, although not all brilliant in themselves, were brief, quiet respites from the bustle of the evening. Putting on headphones, clicking a mouse and watching a computer screen created solitary personal experiences with different energies and motivations to the more visceral live pieces.

It would be well worth reviving the Private Dances format. Not only does it create an avenue for many artists to present at once, there’s scope for pure technical displays, more concept driven pieces and one-hit wonders. The entertaining, highly accessible mix is interactive and tasty, allowing audiences to combine their love of a great party with an alternative way to look at and discuss dance.


2010 Nextwave Festival
Private Dances

Curated by Natalie Cursio

Venue: Arts House, Meat Market, 5 Blackwood St, North Melbourne
Dates/Times: Preview Weds 12 May, 8pm. Opening Night Fri 14 May, 8pm. Sat 15 and Sun 16 May, 8pm
Tickets: Full $20, Concession $15
Bookings: 1300 727 432 | www.nextwave.org.au