5 Questions with Leah Landau and Rhiannon Newton

Leah Landau

Leah Landau

Rhiannon Newton: Do you remember the first flicker of an idea for Summer Bone and can you explain it?
Leah Landau: The first flicker of Summer Bone came in an image of a plump, ripe orange hanging from a tree. The weight, colour and abundance of the fruit reminded me of a woman who is constantly pregnant. I bought some oranges and experimented with the weight of the fruit, and then stuffing the orange with another orange. I also buried them. I found there was a type of violence in burying perfectly made natural food. I went back and forth between oranges and improvising in the studio, and Summer Bone was born.

What’s your favourite thing about the work?
I like how each section of the work requires a particular attention. Although the dance is improvised and changes each night, there are some very clear methods and instructions. Some of these instructions are impossible to do, and I enjoy working with the movement complexity that comes from that.

What’s the background of the title Summer Bone?
I wanted a title that insinuated freshness, but had something hard in the middle. Some alternative titles included Mountain Dance, The Prairie, The Harvest or my favourite Womb Salad which thankfully didn’t make the cut.

Any plans for your time in Sydney?
I’ll be catching up with family and friends – and definitely heading to the beach!

Is there something in Summer Bone that you feel like you are, or will be solving, or continuing in your next piece?
Part of my research for Summer Bone was looking at deep time and how the Earth was formed. I created a practice of writing how the universe started in four minutes, then repeating this three times.

I’m interested in how different beginnings form under pressure, and will continue this in my next work, The Space Hour which has its first development in October at Arts House, Melbourne. It’s a group experience/performance that takes place on the journey from Earth to a new planet, re-imagining a third space of performance between now and the future.

Rhiannon Newton

Rhiannon Newton

Leah Landau: When did you first fall in love?
Rhiannon Newton: I think I fall in love a lot – particularly when I’m travelling, but not necessarily with people. I think I fall in love with beautiful, generous, awesome things – things, moments or places that are phenomenal and unexplainable. I don’t know when I first fell in love, I probably should say my boyfriend – I remember loving my cat a lot, I think I almost choked it once because I hugged it so tightly.

What’s one work you wished you made?
If I’d made it I don’t think I would love it so much, but there’s a couple of works that have really stayed with me, even though I saw them years ago the images and feelings from them are still very vivid and visceral. One of them would probably be a work I just saw in Avignon by Eszter Salamon called Monument 0. It was a really intense study of war dances from cultures that have been at war in the past 100 years – it was a quite political work that was still really grounded in dance – I hope it comes to Australia at some point.

What’s the most pleasurable thing about performing Assemblies For One Body?
I think the fact that it’s a very different dance each time I perform it. The work has a strict structure that I meet each night with improvised dancing, so there’s a bit of thrill, or surprise as I go through the work and watch it become something that I can’t really predict. Because there’s a lot of repetition in the work too it can be very gruelling physically, so this openness in the dancing gives me respite and a bit of delight, as well as helping me to make it through the tougher parts.

If you had ten people performing Assemblies For One Body, what would it look like?
I would love to do it with 10 people! To begin with it would be like 10 people dancing really chaotically and then, over the duration of each section it would become gradually more ordered. By the end each of the 10 people would be caught in their own little one second loop of material, traced from the very first dance they did.

What’s the next piece you’re working on?
I am just starting to work on a new solo – I think it might be called Doing Dancing. I’m still working with repetition – it has kind of become an automatic part of how I think about choreography and dancing and the world – but Im trying to approach repetition more as a means of growing something, rather than combatting the ephemerality of dancing. I’m not sure what it will look like yet, but I think where Assemblies For One Body is kind of like a machine this next solo will be more like a plant or a creature.

Leah Landau and Rhiannon Newton are presenting their works in