We’re thrilled to launch our new pilot program Pivot made possible through a strategic partnership the Convent formed with the Australia Council for the Arts.
Pivot is an eight-week pilot program offering artists 2-4 weeks in-kind space and time to support them to safely investigate, experiment and re-contextualise their work. The program will provide a testing ground for artistic investigation and an opportunity to develop new approaches to making and showing work in a socially distanced, changed world.
There are 18 lead artists involved in the program, including artists from the Convent’s tenant community.
Participating artists and arts organisations
Ngioka Bunda-Heath is Wakka Wakka, Ngugi from Queensland through her mother and Birrpai from New South Wales through her father. Ngioka completed her Advanced Diploma in Performing Arts (Dance) at the Aboriginal Centre of the Performing Arts and her Bachelor of Fine Arts (Dance) at the Victorian College of the Arts. She is the first Aboriginal woman to graduate from the university in her field. Ngioka has performed with Compine Maado in Noumea, New Caledonia, the International Indigenous Dance Residency in Banff, Canada, the World Dance Alliance in France, and the International Association of Blacks in Dance Conference and Festival, Los Angeles. Ngioka was a delegate at the First Nation Dialogues, part of New York City Festival and the Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP). After graduating from VCA, Ngioka accepted a traineeship with Bangarra Dance Theatre, teaching in rural Victoria with their Youth Education Program, Rekindling. She also teaches in remote communities all around Australia with the Indigenous Hip Hop Projects. Ngioka was a founding dancer in Dubaikungkamiyalk, directed by Mariaa Randall and she choreographed Blood Quantum for Yirramboi Festival. Ngioka also performed in Waistd, choreographed by Sarah Aiken and Rebecca Jensen for the Melbourne Fringe Take Over. She is currently choreographing Birrpai for Next Wave Festival, co-produced by Chunky Move.
Following an artist residency at the Campbelltown Arts Centre in early 2020, for her Pivot project Ngioka Bunda-Heath will collaborate with three other artists (Josh Twee, Gabriela Green and Theodore Cassady) to further develop Historia, Memoria, and Connection, a work that seeks to fully explore the shared experiences and intergenerational trauma from the perspective of three Australian minorities. Through creativity, connectivity and the power of expression, the work seeks to evoke immediate and long-standing social, political, and cultural change, both in the short and long term.
Devika Bilimoria and Luna Mrozik-Gawler
Devika Bilimoria and Luna Mrozik Gawler are Narrm based artists working across multiple disciplines. Their work interrogates the relationships between ecological bodies in social, political, biological territories. In 2018 they co-founded L&NDLESS and together have presented large-scale AV immersive experiences and performances for audiences throughout Australia, as commissioned by MAV, TiNA, QPF, Sangam Festival, NIDA Nights, Ian Potter Museum of Art and Hillscene Festival of Live Art. They are invested in the dissolving of dominant Cartesian narratives with an emphasis on relocating the body as a site of knowledge and speculative worlding through live durational performance and digital technology.
For Pivot, Devika and Luna will be developing a new immersive, participatory audio visual installation that explores intimacy in times of separation and isolation. They will be investigating how live and interactive art can be reconsidered for futures where access to space and touch is permanently changed. This new work is planned for independent presentation in 2021.
William Cooper, Diimpa
Eclectic and esoteric, Diimpa is an avant composer, soundscape weaver and sonic wizard. He is a proud mixed Kabi Kabi autistic queer man who works with keyboard instruments including analogue synthesisers, music box, glockenspiel and accordion to create worlds of effortless magic and sound journey. Diimpa draws on vast ranges of experimental influences, from composers Terry Riley, Pauline Oliveros and Julius Eastman, to contemporaries like Zoe Keating and Nils Frahm. Through these experiences and elements, he carves out his own brand of unique contemporary Australian minimalism. Filled with electric pulses or ambient textures, Diimpa’s music is, at its heart, transcendent. With an impressive output of three EPs, albums Metamorphica and Spectrum, and a range of sound pieces under his belt, Diimpa has been performing with a cunning vivacity suffused with masterful improvisation since 2012. His work has been featured in local independent film and theatre works. His keen interest in durational pieces has seen eight-hour improvisations as part of Yirramboi Festival, Blakheart Festival, and Sustenance at Arts Centre Melbourne for Fringe Festival 2016. In 2019, Diimpa was nominated for a Music Victoria Award for Best Experimental or Avant-Garde Act, and performed at Meredith Music Festival and the Melbourne International Arts Festival.
For his Pivot project Diimpa will be working on deep listening practices, reactionary improvisation, and decolonising sound and space.
Jack is an actor, producer and photographer from Melbourne. Since graduating from VCA in 2016, Jack has had the incredible opportunity to work both regionally and nationally. Some of his credits include Romeo in the CWTC state tour of Romeo and Juliet, Sebastian in Twelfth Night as part of the Essential Theatre national tour, Williams in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest with Monster Media/ MTC, Talthybius in Women of Troy for CWTC, Danforth in The Crucible for CWTC, as well as being part of a number of developments for new Australian work, most recently Two Hearts, written by Laura Lethlean and directed by Katie Cawthorne. Jack’s photography work has taken him all over Melbourne. His clients include Welcome to Thornbury, The Prince Alfred Hotel, Kozminsky Jewellery, Drama Victoria, The National Hotel Richmond, MEAA, Malthouse Theatre, Howard Fine Studios, Underground Cinema, VCA, The Corner Hotel and CWTC.
During Pivot, Jack will be developing kerosene, a simple, intimate one-woman show following high school dropout and teenage misfit Millie as she plots violent revenge on the abusive boyfriend of her childhood friend Annie. The work is presented in two parts: a life changing act of revenge drives the narrative, while memories and reflections of a childhood friendship are scattered throughout.
Janette Hoe and Ria Soemardjo – The Echoes Project
Janette Hoe is a contemporary dance artist and collaborator. Her practice is informed by somatic, movement-based improvisation modalities, evolving from the tradition of Butoh. Janette identifies strongly with her hybrid Malaysian-Chinese-Indonesian heritage which carries through into rich stories in her visceral improvisation work. She has choreographed and performed independently, and worked collaboratively with artists from various disciplines, across cultures in Australia and South East Asia. Investigating embodied memories and rituals, Janette’s site-specific works intersect the narratives of place, lived experiences and the imagination.
Ria Soemardjo is a Melbourne based musician with a passion for collaborating with artists across diverse range of genres and artforms. Her distinct, haunting vocal style reflects her Australian/Indonesian cultural heritage. Born in Melbourne, her creative process is often inspired by her life-long fascination with Balinese and Javanese cultural traditions. Over the last 10 years, Ria has created and performed music for a wide range of independent contemporary dance, theatre and mixed media projects in Australia and Asia.
The Echoes Project expands on the long term collaboration of Ria Soemardjo and Janette Hoe, seeking to create contemporary performance ritual in response to specific urban sites. Both Ria and Janette draw deeply from their personal connections to Javanese and Chinese ceremonial traditions, and weave live music, imagery and sound to create powerful experiences in non-conventional performance spaces. For their Pivot project, Ria and Janette are particularly drawn to spend time with several of the very beautiful old trees at the Convent, and to research their history and story. The recent destruction of one of the precious Djab Wurrung trees, has spurred them to make work that invites people to connect to these precious trees.
Kathleen Gonzalez – Ethnodanceology Art
Kathleen Gonzalez is First Nations Muisca and Motilon from Colombia, experimental artist, choreographer and performer, cross-cultural art producer and founder of Ethnodanceology Art. She researches contemporary and interactive emotional dancing, exploring the wisdom and practices of the ancestors through her artistic process. Kathleen’s work explores the space between the rationality of the physical senses and the mystery of psychic and mythical lands, combining unusual, experimental, creative and inspirational new performance processes. Kathleen’s research references include historical archives based in anthropological statements—she is making her own analysis about human ethology, to discover special and sacred universal narrative according to the age of the universe (present time). Her work invites us to understand new languages and forms of movement and performative art, aiming to create multidisciplinary, artistic and educational collaborations activating diverse processes of cultural exchanges within communities. Kathleen has performed nationally and internationally in several festivals from 2015 between Asia including India, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Australia. She currently commissioned by the City of Melbourne to develop a work for Yirramboi Festival 2021.
Kathleen’s Pivot project is Pinta de Antigua. Created in collaboration with local, interdisciplinary artists, Pinta de Antigua is a multi-artform installation—a participatory space where the installation and performative narratives will ignite inspirational reflections from the artist to the community. Through exploring the Convent and it’s surrounding areas, works will be informed through contemplation of found objects, the natural environment, and community interaction. Participating artists include Gabriela Isabel González, José Pincheira, Brian Lee Silva, Sebastian Barahona, Victor Holder, Juan Camilo Riaño.
Ripley Kavara is a musician born in Papua New Guinea and now based in Naarm. Their work has received rave reviews in outlets such as Noisey, Purple Sneakers and Acclaim magazine. Described as an innovator, whose music evokes strong visions, they break all conventions but create transportive ‘evolved hip hop’. Often working collaboratively with other artists, they have worked to create their vision a reality—first and foremost, creating spaces for emerging underground performers and artists, focusing on elevating underrepresented voices in music art.
During Pivot, Ripley will be working on FAMILI—a 4 track visual EP, created by queer and trans artists of the Oceanic diaspora who reside in Australia. It touches on issues such as gender, sexuality, culture, climate change and decolonisation.
Evan Lawson – Forest Collective
Evan J Lawson is one of Australia’s leading queer artists, working at the forefront of contemporary culture as composer, curator, and conductor, chiefly as artistic director of Forest Collective. A graduate of the Victorian College of the Arts and the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, he has studied with Benjamin Northey, Richard Gill, Johanna Selleck, David Aronson (at the Wiener Staatsoper) and Matthias Pintscher (at Grafenegg Festival). Evan was composer-in-residence at Billilla Mansion in 2015 and has participated in developing artist programs with Malthouse Theatre, Grafenegg Festival, Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra and the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. He has performed across Australia, Asia, Europe and the USA, working with a variety of companies, such as the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Tonkünstler Orchestra, Moravska Filharmonie, Forest Collective, ANAM Orchestra, Australian Youth Orchestra, Melbourne Youth Orchestra, Geelong Symphony Orchestra, Density 512, Gertrude Opera, Performance Space, Ranters Theatre, Prismatx Ensemble, Victorian Youth Symphony Orchestra, Australian Children’s Choir and Syzygy Ensemble, Melbourne International Arts Festival, Metropolis New Music Festival, Grafenegg Festival, Austria, Dublin Theatre Festival, Ireland, Sydney’s Mardi Gras, Bendigo International Festival of Exploratory Music, Melbourne Recital Centre, Malthouse Theatre, Carriageworks, Jinji Lake Concert Hall in China, Midsumma Festival, the Universities of Melbourne, Paris, Texas and Oregon and SoundSCAPE New Music Festival in Italy. Evan is currently developing works for Bayside Chamber Orchestra, Westgate Concert Band and a new site-specific opera for Festival International d’Art Lyrique Aix-en-Provence.
Forest Collective has been focusing on the Dancing on a Volcano series at Abbotsford Convent. Dancing on a Volcano reflects upon the importance and function of music broadly through culture, and through Pivot, they are aiming to safely present the project in a post social isolation world.
Daniele Poidomani – Memetica
Daniele Poidomani has been practicing for over 20 years’ in giant puppetry, live performance art, large-scale participatory installations, and community projects. His versatile skills span design, construction, performance, facilitation and direction. Since 1998, Daniele has been renowned for his work with Snuff Puppets. Daniele was part of the company’s core artistic team before founding Memetica in 2013 to expand his practice into content-based artwork with a social, cultural and political outlook.
Memetica specialises in giant-scale theatrical interventions and site-specific spectacle, using uniquely customised designs to imagine new worlds and their inhabitants; to construct impossibly real fictions and to engineer wonder as a mass experience. The company’s core style includes large animated ‘puppet’ characters with high performative capacity; as well as large-scale installation works offering otherworldly environments to their audiences. Memetica’s work inspires wonder amongst adults and children alike. Memetica’s process favours collaboration, empowering participant groups to create community-driven work with a social, cultural and political outlook, as well as high visual and aesthetic impact. Memetica capitalises on Daniele’s background in cultural studies and semiology, and decades of international experience running community workshops, to develop artwork showcasing the preciousness of CALD peoples’ contribution to Australian culture.
For Pivot, Memetica will work on the creative development of World Makers: Reeflings. Working at the Convent will support Memetica to authentically generate work in a site-responsive and specific way, ready for full build in late 2020 and presentation in early 2021 at c3 Gallery. The creative team will connect to extend and experiment with the original project concept, testing possibilities for sound and projection, planning models of the installation structure, and building prototypes for puppet characters. Immersion in the presentation venue will encourage practical experimentation, and also support investigation of how to best embed access and safety in all parts of the project.
Daniel Newell is a non-binary dancer, theatremaker, performance artist, facilitator and graduate of the Victorian College of the Arts. Daniel’s work can be defined as creative chaotic catharsis and has often outed itself as homo-erratic. Interested in dance, somatic practise, improvisational modalities, experimental performance art and theatre, Daniel has created solid prominence within so called Australia’s contemporary / queer performance ecology. Having performed across 20 countries, highlights include working with Shelley Lasica, Deanne Butterworth, Taylor Mac, ABC’s You Can’t Ask That, Honcho Disko hosting Amanda Lepore and Brooke Candy, Dark Mofo’s infamous Blacklist Party, Melbourne Museum, Opera Australia, Strange Fruit Productions, Melbourne Festival, Dance Massive, Rafeal Bonachela and Kylie Minogue.
During Pivot, Daniel will continue working on the creative development for Ned Kylie, a theatrical slur and queering of national aussies, treasures and attitudes relating to Australian masculinity. Working on the multiplicity of nuances held within the idea of Australian masculinity, Newell aims to pioneer a work that contributes to queer story and important Australian critique.
Polyglot Theatre is a globally-renowned company based in Melbourne that creates, produces and tours Theatre for Young Audiences (TYA) all over the world. Polyglot’s artistic approach of child-centred practice has earned them the reputation at home and internationally as a leader in the TYA sector, celebrated for creating distinctive, collaborative works that are playful and conceptually robust. Polyglot Theatre involves kids from creative development through to immersive performances; and reaches the broadest range of children by placing their work everywhere, from the world’s most prestigious theatres to the football grounds of regional Australia. Polyglot has been a proud tenant at the Abbotsford Convent since 2018.
For Pivot, Polyglot will work on the creative development on two projects: Bees (working title), a participatory performance work for an audience of children and families to be experienced in public spaces; and Polyglot’s Generator program, which aims to support Polyglot’s core artists to conceive and develop ideas for bold new work.
Priya Srinivasan – Sangam Festival
Dr. Priya Srinivasan is the co-Artistic Director of Sangam: Performing Arts Festival of South Asia and Diaspora which enables a single platform for classical, contemporary and experimental forms. She is a choreographer and writer who lives and works in the lands of the Wurundjeri and Boonwurrung people in Narrm/Melbourne, combining theory and practice to work towards social justice issues through art. Priya’s performances prioritise feminist decolonisation processes, making visible minority women’s histories. Her experimental postcolonial work rooted in South Asian classical dance practice has been presented in major festivals and venues such as universities, museums, galleries, and theatres internationally in the USA, Europe, China, India and Australia. Her intercultural collaborative work with First Nations artists, Churning Waters toured India for Australia Fest. She has curated and choreographed several projects in partnership with Hermitage Museum Amsterdam, Berlin Wall Memorial, Rockbund Art Museum Shanghai, Creative Victoria, MAV, Bunjl Place and Dancehouse. Priya is the Co-Director of the South Asian Arts Pathways Program commissioned by the City of Casey and Bunjil Place.
Pivot will provide Dr. Priya Srinivasan with space and time to collaborate and create work for Sangam Festival in 2021.
Rhoda Roberts & Julie Nihill – Bukal Bukal
Rhoda Roberts is a Widjubul woman from the Bundjalung territories. She is currently Head of First Nations Programming at Sydney Opera House, Festival Director for Boomerang Festival and Creative Director of Parrtjima Festival. An experienced and versatile arts executive in commercial, community and non-profit organisations, Rhoda was founder and Festival Director of the Dreaming Festivals (1995- 2009). A practicing weaver, actor, producer and director, Rhoda is a sought after consultant, speaker and performer in theatre, film, television and radio. She is currently directing the film Balang (about the late actor Tom E Lewis) and has just written Natives Go Wild for Sydney Opera House.
Julie Nihill is the Founder/CEO of the International Institute for Eradicating Racism, working across a suite of film and documentary projects, alongside education and advocacy work. She has 30 years award-winning experience as an actor, and holds degrees in science and education. Classically trained with Trinity College London, Julie starred in film, theatre, and television becoming a household name in the multi award-winning Blue Heelers. Recent roles include HBO’s The Leftovers and Foxtel’s Picnic at Hanging Rock. Julie has written, directed and produced theatre, short film and has been commissioned to write the screenplay, The White Horse & the Wundjina.
For Pivot, Rhoda and Julie will be developing Bukal Bukal. This expansive documentary explores the remarkable life story of esteemed Yidinji Elder, Henrietta Fourmile Marrie. As a young woman, Henrietta suffers an egregious act of racism and decides that getting an education is the only way to eradicate racism for herself and others. As the first Aboriginal person to hold a professional position at the United Nations Henrietta becomes an advocate for human rights, bringing Indigenous people from around the world to the table for the first time. With a brilliant international career in front of her, she realises her destiny is with her own people. She returns home and continues her fight against Institutional racism in Australian law and policy, and for the return of her Great Grandfather’s Shell Regalia from it’s British Museum prison. Bukal Bukal is not only a powerful biopic about a brilliant Aboriginal woman, it is also about our history, our law and Australia’s future.
Yumi Umiumare and Takashi Takiguchi – ButohOUT!
Born in Hyogo, Japan, Yumi is an established performance artist, Butoh dancer, and choreographer living in Australia. Yumi has been creating her distinctive style of works for nearly 30 years and her works are renowned for provoking visceral emotions and cultural identities. Since moving to Melbourne in 1993, Yumi has created works seen in numerous festivals in dance, theatre and film productions throughout Australia, Japan, Europe, New Zealand, South East Asia and South America. Her works have received critical acclaim and garnered several Australian Green Room awards. Her own major production credits include the DasSHOKU Butoh cabaret series (1999-2014), EnTrance (2009-2012) and PopUp Tearoom Series (2015-) She is now creating new show DasSHOKU TeaParTEA! As a choreographer, Yumi has worked with many socially engaged theatre projects in Australia. These include Aboriginal and refugee communities, culturally diverse groups and inclusive dance and theatre companies. Yumi is a fellowship recipient from the Australia Council for the Arts (2015-16) and the winner of the Green Room Geoffrey Milne Memorial Award in 2017 in recognition of her contribution to Contemporary and Experimental Performance. Yumi is an Artistic Director of ButohOUT! Festival, activating local and international Butoh communities in Melbourne, and teaches nationally and internationally.
Takashi Takiguchi is an independent creative producer of Japanese heritage based in Melbourne (Kulin Country). He is also the founder and Creative Director of the performing art production company, ImPermanence Productions. Since 2014, Takashi has assisted numerous independent artists of colour through his mission to continuously create an inclusive, sustainable, cultural and creative platform. ImPermanence Productions provides consultation, project support and development assistance, as well as production and event management. Over the last five years, Takashi has been involved with or produced 10 community-led performing arts festivals across four countries, and programmed several hundred artists from all around the world. At least 50 Australian independent artists have participated in ImPermanence Production events in regional and metropolitan Australia and in South East Asia. Major projects Takashi has produced include ButohOUT! Festival, co-produced with Yumi Umiumare; The Embodied Landscape (Rainbow, Regional Victoria 2018), with Agung Gunanwan; and MAP Festivals (Rainbow 2018, Brunswick 2019) with Tony Yap.
During Pivot, Yumi and Takashi will experiment with local creatives to build a new stimulative platform ‘Colour-fool Butoh‘, to search unique ways of responding to the cancelled event of ButohOUT! 2020 Primal Colour. Yumi will also be developing her new work DasSHOKU TeaParTEA! with the creative team including dramaturg, provocateur and sound designer.
Born in Malaysia, Tony Yap, is an accomplished dancer, director, choreographer and visual artist. Tony was one of the principal performers with IRAA Theatre (1989-1996). He has made a commitment to the exploration and creation of an individual dance theatre language that is informed by psycho-physical research, Asian shamanistic trance dance, Butoh, and vocal extensions. Tony has received numerous nominations and awards including a Green Room Award for Best Male Dancer in The Decay of the Angel, and an Australian Dance Award for Outstanding Achievement in Independent Dance for Rasa Sayang. He has been a leading figure in inter-cultural discourse and received Asialink residential grants to work in Indonesia in 2005 and 2008, and a Dance Fellowship from the Australia Council for the Arts. Tony is the founding Creative Director of Melaka Arts and Performance Festival (MAP Fest). His practice is grounded in Asian philosophies, sensibilities and forms; inter-cultural and multi-disciplinary approaches; ongoing relationships and collaborations that deepen over time; inclusiveness, diversity and individuality; and process, evolution and the emergent.
For Pivot, Tony will continue to develop his work animal/god, following a three-year research project on how trance from a traditional ritual and performance context can impact contemporary dance performance.
This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body.
If you have any questions about this program, please contact our Producer Natalie Smith.