Angels of Gravity 2005
Darwin Entertainment Centre and surrounds
Angels of Gravity's starting point was the notion of mid-life being a literal pivot-point, with youth and older age balanced on either side. Angels posed the question: “In a world that gives great focus to being and staying youthful, and the reality of an aging society, what signposts do we mortals have to guide us through this period?” Through the use of abseiling, video animation, dance, film, and sound – a hybrid performance was produced that engaged and challenged audiences, while inviting them to move through four different performance spaces that ranged from the side wall of a ten story high building, a theatre loading dock and workshop, onto the main stage, and finally into the auditorium.
Answers to questions of aging, achievements, and the place that your physical body exists within society were sought by looking at parts of the Northern Territory makeup.
This performance placed three dance artists who are all in their 40’s Sarah Calver, Trevor Patrick, and Michele Dott alongside the senior performers. The Grey Panthers women’s dance group (women over 50) gives an urban Darwin perspective, one that reminds us that there is no need to keep trying so hard to achieve high social status, that other things are far more important. The Yawulyu Women’s Indigenous ceremonial dance group from Lajamanu have a clear role within their own social structure –status changing with age as they become respected Elders. The three core dancers had experience living, working in, or with members of the Lajamanu Community.
Completing the mix was a cherubic young male, the Northern Territory Fire and Rescue Service, and a mid-aged group of males who manipulate the elements within the performance.
The Tracks Directors were once told in Lajamanu that the difference between Yapa (Aboriginal) and Kardiya (Non-aboriginal) people is that Yapa have their history laid out in front so they can see it and follow it, while Kardiya leave it behind, trying to rub it out. This gave us the idea of looking at time in a less linear fashion.
Throughout the show our Angels behave in unpredictable and often strange ways. As weightless as the clouds, as unusual as the creatures found in the deepest oceans, they view things from different angles, exploring the place of this ‘certain age’ in our society. Drawing on wisdom from Elders who remember first white contact, seniors who move almost invisibly through our days, and the naivety of Youth. These angels swing our 40-something humans around their middle years, testing them, observing them, and being there when they are ready to take flight.
An important element of this show was the video art and sounds of hybrid artist Elka Kerkhofs. Once again collaborating with the director, David McMicken (see Love Versus Gravity, and Rust) Elka created humorous animations, haunting images, and dexterous manipulation of the video medium through her short movies, evocative sound scapes, and the creation of new “tunes”.
Concept / Direction: David McMicken
Assistant Director / Designer: Tim Newth
Video-Art / Sound Composition: Elka Kerkhofs
Lighting and Production Management: Matthew James
Assistant Choreographer: Julia Quinn
Costumes: Louise Rieck
Stage Construction: Neil Hawkes
Prop Construction: Alison Dowell and David Taylor
Graphic Design: Mark Marcelis
Promotions Manager: Sue Mornane
NT Fire and Rescue Angels: Peter Simon, Stephen Cherry, Craig Green, Royle Salt, Daniel Manser, Robert Crowell, Michael Scown, Ryan Clay and Darrin Weetra
Cherub: Liam Birch
Soloists: Sarah Calver, Trevor Patrick, and Michele Dott
Lajamanu Yawulyu Angels: Myra Nungarrayi Herbert, Gladys Napangardi Kelly and Molly Napurrula Tasman
The Grey Panther Angels: Judith Allen, Kay Brown, Diane Dibbins, Audrey Gorring, Kathleen Harding, Jan Hastings, Crena Hemmings, Marg Lee, Elaine Marlow, Helen Murphy, Bev Paget, Shirley Somers, Janine Sutter, Gwen Varney, Punny Vegter, Maria Vlastuin, Jacquie Williams
Manipulators: David Taylor, Daniel Alderman, Darryl Butler, Tony Shelley and Tim Newth
Front of House Angels: Sue Mornane , Dixi Joy, Maxi Gonzales, Vera Tabuzo, Georgia Mansfield, Tessa Calver-James, Corina Nichols, Jade Butterworth, Jana Tunuls, Keirah Richards, Loni Garnons-Williams, Ricky Borg and the Darwin Entertainment Centre Staff
- Prologue: Arrival Of The Angels – NT Fire & Rescue Service
- The Angels descend from heaven, lightly touching foot upon Earth
- Scene 1: 40-Something Circus – (Paper) Sarah Calver, (Rope) Trevor Patrick, (Box) Michele Dott, and Liam Birch
- Am I in control enough? Am I strong Enough? Am I clear enough? Can I get through this circus?
- Scene 2: The Angel’s Administration Centre – Grey Panthers and Liam Birch
- Pregnant with ideas and concepts, our senior Angels reach back through time and assist themselves as they were at forty-years-old
- Scene 1: Cocoon: Birth Of An Angel – Trevor Patrick, Lajamanu Yawulyu Women, Grey Panthers and Liam Birch
- A human is born full grown into their forties. However, like a young bird straight from the egg, they need nourishment in order to grow strong.
- Scene 2: Nagatjirri (Green Grass Parrot) – Lajamanu Yawulyu Women
- The green Grass Parrot is fed by its elders, who as well as physical sustenance, provide vital information and ritual necessary for progression through life.
- Scene 1: Trying It On – Sarah Calver
- In the midst of being a dancer, a mother, career changes and overload – will she ever feel as if she has caught up, with herself?
- Interlude: The Lady’s In Love – Grey Panthers, Sarah Calver and Michele Dott
- The Grey Panther Angels tell our younger women that there is no need to try so hard – that that path way leads to fatigue,
- Scene 2: Call To Country – Michele Dott
- By placing the modern day western trained dancer, and the predominantly unknown Indigenous cultures together in one space provides a harsh image, not unlike some contemporary Aboriginal communities. The Western dancer has to stop looking to the sky, going against the flow and show that she is ready for receiving the knowledge.
- Interlude: Landing – Michele Dott and Lajamanu Yawulyu Women
- The Lajamanu women heal the damaged dancer and give her wings, ready for the next phase of her life.
- Scene 3: The Weight Of It All – Trevor Patrick
- Caught between heaven and hell, this angel in the making struggles with the limitations of the human body, and the desire to break free of the restrictions of gravity, to shake off the mortal coil and find true release.
- Finale: Fly With The Angels – Full Cast
- Having done their job, the angels accept the new angels into their fold and fly off to continue their work.
Artistic Directors: David McMicken and Tim Newth
Company Manager: Sue Mornane
Dance Animateur: Julia Quinn
Bookkeeper: Julie Stark
Development Consultant: Suzanne Fermanis
Committee Members: Jackie Wurm (Chair), David Taylor (Vice-Chair), Glenn Bernardin (Treasurer), Sonia Brownhill (Secretary/Public Officer), Ken Conway, Donna Quong, Jill MacAndrew (Ordinary Committee Members), David McMicken and Tim Newth (Ex-Officio Members)
Public Fund Trustees: Rev. Steve Orme, Dr Anita Toth, Paul Wan
“Angels of Gravity is about many things, including the dancer’s body and what it can and cannot do as age and gravity bring it down to earth. Tracks’ work is notable for its fearless pursuit in eclectically assembling the different cultures, values, ages, talents, let alone movement conventions and capacities of its performers and always manages to pull off a deeply moving and aesthetic unity.” Suzanne Spunner - RealTime
"Fantastic to see such innovative use of space and local content and talent."
"The show was beautiful, very thought provoking, confronting, interesting, mesmerising."
"Superb, truly captivating. Wonderful inclusion of a range of peoples in society. Beautiful exploration of real issues."
"You have again created a major work that speaks to the people of the northern territory. I especially enjoyed the humour that you allowed to come through from the Lajamanu mob. People so often see that culture as only sacred and secret and forget that these people have contemporary lives that are complex and complicated."
"Deeply insightful, beautifully artistic & wonderfully creative – loved moving around – felt like one of the cast!"
"Like a meal!! An absolute feast for the eyes, the soul & and the imagination."
"This is on stage what we would like to see out there in our Top End society and the world at large! What beauty in these angels from everywhere! Age, sex, race, personalities, cultures in harmony, creating a sense of “totalness”, of belonging to earth!"
"Moving, visually sensitive, gentle, humorous and touching (as a woman who just turned 40)."
"Erotic, mesmerising, absolutely bloody fantastic!! Loved everything about the show."
"Parts of the show brought tears to my eyes. It was not that it was heart rending but that the putting of different images and symbols together created a strong emotional response from me. It was just so original and unexpected."
"I love how you opened and extended your area of creativity and let the audience become involved."
"Extraordinary – excellent use of performance spaces, multi media, and community groups, inventive and original."
"Innovative, entertaining, thought provoking, and weird."
"Excellent, turned everything upside down and inside out, constant surprises."