Zombies in the Banyan Tree 2013

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George Brown Darwin Botanic Gardens

A Tracks dance show grows from living in this place. We like to shine the spotlight on our contemporary culture and reflect back what it means to be a Northern Territorian today, especially in a much wider Australian context. We like to rejoice in our difference.

So why Zombies? Significant interest in the supernatural has often foreshadowed times of fast social change. Nowadays, there are many who believe the technological era is leading us towards becoming like the “Living Dead”, less full of our own life forces and disconnected from our real world. Darwin is certainly in a time of great change.

The Banyan tree? Bali is one of our closest neighbours and their culture has had a strong influence on Darwin. In Bali minor deities, nature spirits and celestial musicians are believed to dwell in the sacred Banyan tree. Ghosts and demons are associated with its trunk and branches. It has its roots reaching upwards and its branches reaching down, representing a balance of opposites. Balinese dress this tree in checked cloth. It was a small leap of imagination to see that in our story we need not be afraid of the new, nor mindlessly adhere to the old, but rather be constantly vigilant to the multitude of possibilities and make the appropriate choices and offerings.

We have brought together an array of artists to collaborate in the creation of a classic story of two apparently opposite forces who go to battle, upsetting a natural balance of coexistence, (very loosely based on the classic Hindu story of the Ramayana). In an epic clash between “the Butterflies” of the air and “the Demons” of the underground, we pit two opposing styles of movement. One derives from street styles and brings together break dancers, including members of the D*City Rockers, to work alongside Sydney based choreographer Nick Power.

Contrasting this is the modern mix of contemporary and Balinese influences. Choreographer Jess Devereux has worked alongside dancer and Balinese cultural leader Desak Putu Warti. Together, with a strong and diverse group of contemporary and cultural dancers, they make an exciting statement about the diverse physical skill set that a Darwin dancers often holds.

A rich texture and balance for this experience is provided by the live sound score. Based on a Balinese performance style of chanting and dancing developed in the late 20’s and early 30’s using the sounds of cock-fighting developed into a complex chant, we have our locally produced “Kecak” movement choir. The choir is led by guest Balinese musician, I Dewa Putu Sudiantara, who has collaborated with local musicians Megan Atfield and Desak Putu Warti. Then we add the sounds and extraordinary talents of local Beat-Boxer K-Fuzz, creating an excitingly original rhythmical mix.

David McMicken and Tim Newth

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Creative Personnel

Concept and Direction: David McMicken, Tim Newth
Choreographers: Desak Putu Warti, Jessica Devereux, Nick Power and David McMicken
Musicians: I Dewa Putu Sudiantara (Bali), Megan Atfield, Desak Putu Warti, and Michael Koufos (K-Fuzz)
We thank the cast for their creative and personal input into the entire making of this work
Design: Tim Newth
Costumes: Ann Gibb

Production and Promotions Personnel

Production Manager: Kelly Blumberg
Stage Manager: Katie Boyd
Deputy Stage Manager: CJ Fraser Bell
Assistant Stage Manager: Katie Ciesiolka
Lighting and Sound Design, Install and Operation: Dreamedia
Stage Construction: Correctional Services Work Parties
Promotions/Publicity: Gail Evans, Susan Congreve
Head Steward: Charlie Marengo
Graphic Design: Mark Marcelis, Narelle Sullivan
Advertisement /Film Documentation: Todd Williams
Photographic Documentation: Jess Devereux

Performers

Butterflies: Anokai Lancaster, Keely Sheppard, Kristi Renfrey, Lauren French, Stephanie Heazlewood, Venaska Cheliah, Wati Kerta

Demons: Aaron Lim, Andy Lay, Caleb Patrick, Flavio Jong, Jake Kunde, Madeleine Brown, Mitchell Aldridge

Kecak Dance Choir: I Dewa Putu Sudiantara (Soma), Glenn Bernardin, Thevi Chelliah, Emma Fitzsimons, Darryl Butler, Mikiah Lawrence, David Andrews, Damien Murray, Ketut Kamar, Anthony Burridge, Lenny, Ita Haristawati, Jessica Gibb, Phaik See Gnoh, Kylie Innes, Carolyn McLennan, Kelly Beneforti, Desak Putu Warti and Megan Atfield

Beatboxer: Michael Koufos (K-Fuzz)

Scenario

Daily Offerings
A Balanced World – Coexistence of Difference
Butterfly Solo
Demon Solo
Butterflies of the Air
Demons of the Underground
Butterflies in a Field of Flowers
Demons Kidnap Butterfly Princess
Sadness Solo – Butterfly Princess
Finding the Broken Wings 
Revenge Battle - Butterflies and Demons
Zombie Conversion 1
Seduction Battle - Butterflies and Demons
Zombie Conversion 2
Retaliation Battle - Butterflies and Demons
Zombie Conversion 3
Zombie Apocalypse
Transformation - Princess to Goddess
Restoring a Balanced World

Thank You

Ian Kew, Darwin International Airport, Meriel Corbett-Weir Creative Partnerships Australia, Allora Gardens Nursery and Estelle Cornell, Wormald, Darwin Festival, Darwin Correctional Services and James Shaw, Dreamedia, Julie Blyth, Nigel Walsh, Sharon and The George Brown Darwin Botanic Gardens, Toll Marine Logistics, WACO Quickform, TFH, Palm Springs, Venaska Cheliah, Aaron Lim, Andy Lay, Mitchell Aldridge, Elliot Calwell-Ferguson, Michael Loughhead, Sally Crawford, Mary Cunningham, Marg Dorman, Matilda Dorman, Fiona Fergusson, Mary Fox, Rebecca French, Henry Harper, Shirley Harper, Dan Herbison, Dale Howard, Dixi Joy, Charlie Marengo, Jenny Milne, Jenni Sanderson, Lyn Sheppard, Jenni Sykes, Moira Stronach, Melanie Tribe, Bryn Wackett, Ciella Williams and to all the B Grade Zombie movies ever made.

Tracks would also like to thank the following for their generous donations given to support this project: Brian Tucker, Don Whyte, Katrina Fong Lim, Nicole Cridland, Xana Kamitsis, Virginia Burrow, Noya Chong Wah, Darryl Butler, Graeme Cheater, Barbara Pitman, Sally-Anne Mason, Joanne Hilliard, J.L Hills, Roslyn Henry, Heather Hyde and Barry Thomson.

Sponsors

Darwin International Airport, Dreamedia, Southern Cross TV, Brian Tucker, Eddie Willoughby-Smith

Funding Bodies

Tracks Inc is assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body; and is proudly sponsored by the Northern Territory Government.

Tracks 2013

Artistic Co Directors: David McMicken and Tim Newth
General Manager: Susan Congreve
Administrator: Gail Evans
Production Manager: Kelly Blumberg
Bookkeeper: Heather Van Anholt
Committee Members: (Chair) Michael Grant, (Vice-Chair) David Taylor, (Treasurer) Glenn Bernardin, (Secretary/Public Officer) Nick Papandonakis, (Ordinary Committee Members) Ken Conway, Liz Trevaskis, Stephanie Cvirn, (Ex-Officio Members) David McMicken and Tim Newth

Public Fund Trustees: Rev. Steve Orme, Dr Anita Toth, Ippei Okazaki

Patron: Her Honour the Honourable Sally Thomas AM, Administrator of the Northern Territory

Photos: 

Videos 

Cast Highlights

“I loved the dancers, seeing them transform into something else, Aaron growling, Venaska’s scream and the hairs going up. Andy would change in front of me, and especially one night when I gave the crown to Venaska she had totally transformed, you could see it in her eyes.”

“I loved the group togetherness.”

“My kids saw me dance and saw that their mum can do more than just go to work.”

“Kristy and Aaron, seeing them grow as performers, it gives me inspiration.”

“I was told since being born that I had no rhythm and I am uncoordinated – I learned how to listen to the sounds and to coordinate with them.”

“The silence of the crowd.”

“I Worked together with other people from many different backgrounds.”

“The diversity of participant’s  - The openness and warmth of the process.”

“Watching Jess Devereux grow as a choreographer, how she employs different dance forms, she has such a passion for dance.”

“Nick Power inspires the D*City rockers to be better, more focussed. It is good that Tracks brings him up for our own [Hip Hop] culture . “

“This project has extended my beatboxing skill set by making me learn how to create a structured and rehearsed musical score, where as prior to this my performance has always been improvised.”

“The experience confirmed for me that I do love to work with creative people in a collaborative way and that I love performing. Being part of a creative process was really satisfying.”

“The show reflected the multiculturalism that is strongly a part of Darwin culture and the necessity of embracing that multiculturalism.  There is quite a lot to the show that speaks of working together and getting along with our differences.”

Cast Challenges

“Tackling Balinese dancing, it was pretty tricky because of the attention to detail and the millions of other things you have to think about.”

“Time. My kids missing their mum. I had to set my boundaries to my kids.”

“Not believing in myself, having not danced for 22 years.”

“Kecak was always hard.”

Audience Responses

“Fabulous, fabulous, fabulous.” Judy McKerr

“I didn't want it to end.”  Brian Tucker

“Best production in the Festival.”  Robbie Hoad (aka Barry Brown)

“ … a real gutsy achievement. The beatboxing and the kecak seemed to complement each other seamlessly. The choreography was terrific.”  Bindi Isis

"What a great show. A highlight of theDarwin Festival program." Discovering Darwin

Media Responses

“ … fierce and electric.” Kyle Walmsley - Real Time Writing Workshop

“Moments of this performance will remain with me: Putu’s wailing lament drew a bleak yet beautiful image, the vocal flexibility of K-Fuzz sustained the performance and Zombies Under the Banyan Tree’s artistic prompt reminded me just how culturally rich this community I live in really is.” Fiona Carter – Real Time Writing Workshop

“K Fuzz … revealed an incredible sonic range—evoking everything from the cracking of zombie skeletons to the synthesizer of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” and every beat in between. This live accompaniment brought another very real and present anchor to the action—and all done through the sounds made by the musician’s mouth, microphone and looping. Howling winds were precisely managed and every pop, squelch and plosive was expertly timed alongside the action.” Kyle Walmsley - Real Time Writing Workshop

View Links

ABC Radio National interview - By Sally Mason

ABC TV Stateline Report - ABC Stateline August 16, 2013

 

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