Angels of Gravity

Angels of Gravity


    Darwin Entertainment Centre and Surrounds, Darwin City

    August 17 - 21, 2005
    Darwin Festival

    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.

    Director's Notes

    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 40s 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 and that other things are far more critical. 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 group of males who manipulated 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 has 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 their 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 soundscapes, and the creation of new “tunes”.

    Creative Personnel

    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
    Costume and construction: Louise Rieck and David Taylor
    Stage Construction: Neil Hawkes
    Props: Alison Dowell 

    Production and Promotion Personnel

    Poster Image and Design: Mark Marcelis
    Promotions Manager: Sue Mornane
    Front of House: Sue Mornane, Dixi Joy and the Darwin Entertainment Centre Staff


    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
    Youth  Angels: Maxi Gonzales, Vera Tabuzo, Georgia Mansfield, Tessa Calver-James, Corina Nichols, Jade Butterworth, Jana Tunuls, Keirah Richards, Loni Garnons-Williams, and Ricky Borg 


    • Prologue: Arrival Of The Angels – NT Fire & Rescue Service
    • The Angels descend from heaven, lightly touching foot upon Earth

    ACT 1:

    • 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

    ACT 2:

    • Scene 1: Cocoon: Birth Of An Angel – Trevor Patrick, Lajamanu Yawulyu Women, Grey Panthers and Liam Birch
    • A human is born fully 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 rituals necessary for progression through life.

    ACT 3:

    • 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 pathway leads to fatigue,
    • Scene 2: Call To Country – Michele Dott
    • 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 must stop looking to the sky, going against the flow and showing that she is ready to receive 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 human body's limitations, 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.

    Tracks 2005

    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

    Photo: Elka Kerkhofs. Trevor Patrick, Liam Birch
    Photo: Elka Kerkhofs. Michelle Dott, Liam Birch
    Photo: Elka Kerkhofs. Sarah Calver, Liam Birch
    Photo: Rodney Laredo. NT Fire and Rescue
    Photo: Rodney Laredo. (l-r) Michelle Dott, Myra Nungarrayi Herbert (Patrick)
    Photo: Rodney Laredo. (l-r) Michelle Dott, Molly Napurrula Tasman, Gladys Napangardi Tasman, Myra Nungarrayi Herbert (Patrick)
    Photo: Mark Marcelis. (l-r) Michelle Dott
    Photo: Rodney Laredo. Michelle Dott
    Photo: Rodney Laredo. (l-r) Crena Hemmings, Helen Murphy, Sarah Calver, Kay Brown, Myra Nungarrayi Herbert (Patrick), marg Lee
    Photo: Rodney Laredo. (l-r) Sarah Calver
    Photo: Rodney Laredo. standing (l-r) Audrey Gorring, Judith Allen, Maria Vlastuin, Sarah Calver, Bev Paget, Jacquie Williams
    Photo: Rodney Laredo. (l-r) Trevor Patrick
    Photo: Rodney Laredo. (l-r) Trevor Patrick
    Photo: Rodney Laredo. (l-r) Molly Napurrula Tasman, Myra Nungarrayi Herbert (Patrick) Gladys Napangardi Tasman, Trevor (Jampijinpa) Patrick
    Photo: Rodney Laredo. (l-r) Gladys Napangardi Tasman, Myra Nungarrayi Herbert (Patrick), Molly Napurrula Tasman, Audrey Gorring, Kay Brown, Davit (Jupurrula) Taylor, Crena Hemmings, Trevor (Jampijinpa) Patrick (in egg)

    Explore Further

    Lajamanu / Milpirri Home Page

    Older Adults Home Page

    Media Response

    “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

    Audience Response

    "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."

    Tracks Dance Company Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia.

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