Sometimes a choreographer creates a work that resonates beyond their original expectations, and I believe this is the case with Lucy Guerin’s profoundly beautiful duet, Split. Since its premiere in spring 2017, Split has literally continued touring the world, touching people’s hearts and minds along the way. In its apparent simplicity – a duet for two startling female performers, a sparse set, and the hypnotic drum score of U.K. composer Scanner – Split succeeds in confronting ideas of connection and confinement, conflict and resolution in pressure-filled and troubling times. I’m thrilled to welcome Lucy Guerin Inc back to our season with this remarkable work.
Enjoy the world of NAC Dance!
The inspiration for Split came from a desire to get into the studio with just two dancers. Having worked on some larger pieces over the last couple of years, I wanted that luxury of closeness with the dancers, to play and search in a low-pressure environment. This for me is the joy of dance making, a chance to burrow into the pure elements of choreography; time, space, structure and the movement of the human body. And to allow content to develop from that process which has resonance in the world. Split shifts between two bodies, reconciled and in conflict. The diminishing world that they inhabit induces competition, negotiation, harmony and aggression. They set their own parameters. Dividing the time length of each section and the amount of space for each, I also wanted to disrupt the harmony between the two dancers. We tried different costumes but that didn’t seem to read clearly. Having one naked and the other clothed created a split in identity that intensified the piece. For me it gives seriousness and normality to the female body, which is such a site of commodification, exploitation, shame and shock. In Split, it is what the body does as much as what it is that is important.
Heartfelt thanks to Lilian Steiner and Melanie Lane, the original cast of Split, for their courage and commitment during its creation. And also to Ashley McLellan who dances Melanie’s role in Ottawa. The patience and diligence of the dancers is very apparent and the gravity and concentration that they bring to the choreography are vital for its realisation. Their willingness to engage in the creative process not just as instruments, but as agents who embody ideas and make the work into a whole is very precious.
Lucy Guerin Inc is an Australian dance company established in Melbourne in 2002 to create and tour new dance works. Renowned for the skill and originality of its small group of performers, it is dedicated to challenging and extending the art of contemporary dance. New productions are generated through an experimental approach to creative process, and may involve voice, video, sound, text and design as well as Guerin’s lucid physical structures.
The company is a flexible model that values research and risk in the creative process and provides the conditions to question existing notions of dance. This is always a choreographic exploration, striving for visual, emotional and physical revelations that could not be generated or communicated in any other artform.
Over the last 17 years, the company has evolved from a structure that enables Guerin’s choreographic projects, to an organization that also supports the development of independent dance artists in Melbourne. Through a program of residencies, classes, workshops, presentations and mentoring opportunities, it is responsive to the shifting ideas and contexts generated by dance and choreography in the world today. In 2019, Lucy Guerin Inc premiered Make Your Own World, presented by Arts House as part of the Dance Massive festival in Melbourne. Other recent works include Split (2017), Attractor (2017), a collaboration with Gideon Obarzanek, Dancenorth and Indonesian music duo, Senyawa, and The Dark Chorus (2016).
The company regularly tours works both nationally and internationally to Europe, Asia, Canada and the United States.
Commissioned and presented by Arts House as part of Dance Massive 2017.
Lucy Guerin Inc is supported by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body; the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria’s Organisation Investment Program; and the City of Melbourne, through its triennial funding. Split was supported by City of Melbourne through Arts House.