Melanie Lane has received the 2018 Keir Choreographic Award, it has been announced by The Keir Foundation, Carriageworks and Dancehouse. Lane won the Award for her work Personal Effigies. The Audience Choice Award went to Amrita Hepi for her piece Caltex Spectrum.

Launched in 2014, the Keir Choreographic Award is a biennial competition, which seeks to identify, illuminate, present and promote new, experimental choreographic practices developing in Australia. Mebourne-based artist Atlanta Elke won the Award in 2014, and Sydney-based Torres Strait Islander choreographer and performer Ghenoa Gela won it in 2016.

Keir Choreographic AwardMelanie Lane’s Personal Effigies. Photograph © Zan Wimberley

For the 2018 Award, entrants were asked to submit a five-minute video pitch for a choreographic idea of 20 minutes in duration. Eight artists were selected by a high-profile international jury to take part in the competition. They were: Nana Biluš Abaffy, Luke George, Amrita Hepi, Melanie Lane, Prue Lang, Bhenji Ra, Lilian Steiner, and Branch Nebula (Lee Wilson and Mirabelle Wouters). Each of the eight works, created for the Award, were presented at Dancehouse in Melbourne, where four were selected for the final at Carriageworks in Sydney, which took place on Saturday March 17.

Lane is a Javanese/Australian choreographer and performer. Based in Europe from 2000 – 2014, she has worked with artists such as Arco Renz | Kobalt Works, Club Guy and Roni, and Tino Seghal. In 2015, she was appointed resident director at Lucy Guerin Inc. Her choreographic work negotiates materiality, artificiality and the representation of the body, and she has established a repertory of works performing in international festivals and theatres.

Lane’s Keir Choreographic Award-winning work Personal Effigies, is described as “a synthesis of constructed bodies for a singular body, drawing from avatars, puppets, dolls and effigies.” Lane herself performed in the work with Chris Clark, who composed the music. The costumes were designed by Paula Levis.

Hepi is a dancer and choreographer. A Bundjalung and Ngapuhi woman, she explores ideas of authenticity and the perpetuation of culture and tradition in her dance practice. She trained at the National Aboriginal Islander Skills Development Association (NAISDA) dance college in Sydney and Alvin Ailey American Dance School in New York. She has exhibited and performed at Sydney Opera House, Next Wave Festival, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Australian Centre for Contemporary art, Carriageworks, TEDXSydney, Banff Centre Canada, Art Central Hong Kong, Art Basel Hong Kong, DARK MOFO Tasmania, Underbelly Arts Festival, and Sydney Contemporary among others.

Her work Caltex Spectrum asked “is it possible to transcend class through movement, or do society’s inscriptions remain imprinted on the body?” It  was performed by Jahra Rager, Tyrone Robinson and Sarah Vai with set design by Alice Joel, and  music by Daniel Von Jenatsch and Sarah Scott.

The jury for the 2018 Keir Choreographic Award comprised: Anna Cy Chan, Head of Dance, Performing Arts of the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority, Hong Kong; local dance icon Lucy Guerin; Ishmael Houston-Jones, US choreographer, author, performer, and curator; Hungarian choreographer, dancer and performerEszter Salamon; Christophe Slagmuylder, Artistic Director of international arts festival Kunstenfestivaldesarts, Brussels; and acclaimed Brussels-based American choreographer and dancer Meg Stuart.