Hopping on a bus to Nowhere is not an unusual concept for regular Stompin audiences. In fact I distinctly remember doing ‘blockies’ around the centre of Launceston in a bus on the way to the venue for an aptly titled piece I Love Cars (choreographed by Adam Wheeler – now the Artistic Director of Tasdance) in 2011.
Nowhere. Photo supplied
Almost in direct contrast, Nowhere takes audiences out of the city of Launceston and into one of the local, secret wild places. More recently the home to a solitary bull, Tamar Island is surrounded by wetlands, which are now protected and made accessible by a very long board walk, which crosses large sections of river and marsh.
This is the site of the first section of the work co-created by choreographer Yolande Brown and the 17-strong cast of Stompin youth dance company. In collaboration with local writer Adam Thompson, they have used the length, and very narrow breadth, of the boardwalk to guide a procession of the audience to slowly weave its way out to the island.
Each person, equipped with headphones, moves in single file accompanied by the key characters of the landscape around them. Passing by small clusters of dancers, each has plenty of time to become accustomed to the surrounds and to the expectation of leaving their ‘known’ behind. Well out on the kanamaluka/Tamar River individual dancers rush past. Time seems to slow allowing space for contemplation of ownership and belonging; of land and waterways. Reflecting the audio’s requests to look up and look around us, the dancers gaze outward, raise their limbs and seem to repeat the shapes of the reeds.
Nowhere. Photo supplied
Finally ‘arriving’ on dry land is comfortable but comes with a question: What will you give in return for coming onto this Country? All I can think of is how can I help to protect this special place.
In the open ground, the dancers now enter in trios and solos, again mirroring the landscape around. Open palms reach upwards and slow spiral rolls melt into close duos. An intriguing foot and hand gesture unites the cast in a simple strong image of shared discovery.
Rising and falling, leading and following, rolling and spiralling motifs abound. With strong focus from these young performers, the audience is treated to more intimate connections as the dance is woven through their sitting space and out to the other side.
Like boulders breathing, bodies echo the layers of shapes that make up this environment only to melt once more into the now familiar elongated motifs. The last duo matches the first and with a ceremonial lingering pulse the last of the group has melted into the sunset and we are indeed reminded that we are somewhere quite special.
Nowhere plays as part of Ten Days on the Island from 13 – 17 March