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RAW Moves and Murasaki Penguin’s Subtle Downtempo No: An Interview with the Team

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RAW Moves is back this July with a brand new production. Playing as part of their 2019-20 season of Systems, get ready for Subtle Downtempo No, a brand new production created together with Australian/Japanese dance company Murasaki Penguin as they explore the experience of being an outlier from society’s systems.

Choreographed by Anna Kuroda and sound and visual artist David Kirkpatrick from Murasaki Penguin, Subtle Downtempo No uses an interdisciplinary combination to understand the social and technical systems around us. Says Anna: “This show is about being both included and excluded, and how at times, we work against ourselves as we try to squeeze into these spaces. During the show, you’ll see that a segment of it features dancers with their backs faced to us, so that the audience can see it from the dancer’s perspective, and what they are looking at as they attempt to get into these spaces.

Photo credit: RAW Moves

With a choreography focusing on graph motion, using different curved lines and points through the dancers’ bodies, Anna elaborates: “There’s a kind of resistance and element of breakage you see throughout the show, where people don’t quite fit and we’re playing with what I call unsymmetrical ideas. The dancers are trying to work together to make a machine work, and you realise that at the end of the day, we’re all just cogs in the system. And sometimes, some people just don’t fit, whether it’s because your stance is wrong or you’re not the ‘right’ shape for this system that rejects those who are different.”

Photo credit: RAW Moves

In terms of the visuals, David Kirkpatrick aims to use minimal sound design and ambient lighting, enabling the isolation of areas that likewise, creates shapes, graphs and choreographs the movement of the light. He says: “You’ll see so many different body shapes in the show itself, and the dancers have gotten really good at nailing the intricacies of their movements, such as when three different bodies try to be exactly the same, yet, there’s something that prevents them from achieving that sameness.”

Photo credit: David Kirkpatrick

In terms of his design, David intends to fully utilise the Goodman Arts Centre’s Multipurpose Studio space, explaining: “We’re using elements like pixel mapping, using LED lights that come out from the top of the space, and it works quite interestingly because our space feels more like an art gallery than a theatre. We’re trying to work the space itself in as a key part of the performance, and my design takes a lot of cues from the movement, where I respond to what they’re doing and vice versa, and you’ll see me using four synthesisers to produce the soundtrack live.”

Photo Credit: RAW Moves

Says RAW Moves company dancer Matthew Goh: “Anna gave me a lot of specific details to focus on, like whether my hands should be at a 90 degree angle at a certain point, or imagining ourselves as big corks filling the space, so we’ve also been doing bigger movements to amplify the work. As dancers, we need to use our peripheral vision to keep track of one another, looking out for certain cues to figure out when we’re supposed to move. There isn’t any one particular leader, and we have to watch for changes in pacing, while out own roles are shifting throughout. In a sense, we need to look out for one another, and we can’t go too fast or too slow and master the timing and pacing.”

Photo credit: RAW Moves

How do we as individuals navigate our complex social systems, learning to integrate into them despite our differences? Only one way to find out, as RAW Moves and Murasaki Penguin present Subtle Downtempo No this July.

Subtle Downtempo No plays from 25th to 27th July 2019 at Goodman Arts Centre Multipurpose Studio 1 & 2. Tickets available from Peatix

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