Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Angus Balbernie: Materials For a Small Winter

I only recently came across this event held last year featuring the dancer and choreographer Angus Balbernie:

The teenage years can feature some pivotal moments. For choreographer Angus Balbernie it was the discovery of Malcolm Lowry’s 1947 novel Under the Volcano, widely regarded as one of the great literary works of the 20th century.

Balbernie’s life-long love of Lowry has inspired a quintet of dance theatre pieces created over the past five years, the latest of which is Materials For a Small Winter. ‘I’ve always loved Lowry’s work,’ explains Balbernie. ‘I discovered Under the Volcano when I was a teenager and was just fascinated by him as a writer. And then I read a biography about his extraordinary life – his fantasy world, his alcoholism and how he ended up living in a ruined fisherman’s stilt house in Vancouver. He was a remarkable writer who led a remarkable life.’

The show also features another of Balbernie’s great passions, which he has moulded to fit Lowry’s story. ‘I’ve had a lifetime’s addiction to film noir,’ he says. ‘Once I found out that Lowry’s second wife was a failed Hollywood starlet, I turned her into a failed film noir starlet and used that in the concept of the piece.’

Featuring choreography, film footage, text and a live soundscape, Materials For a Small Winter reaches beyond Lowry and film noir into even darker territory – abuse. ‘I’ve never been accused of making light work,’ says Balbernie. ‘And abuse in its many forms is a dominant theme in many areas of life, while Lowry, as an alcoholic, was the archetypal self-abusing artist.’ Kelly Apter The List

Angus Balbernie has created and directed over 60 pieces in Europe, N & S America, Canada and Asia. He teaches choreography, directing and composition internationally. Currently teaches at Artez Arnhem, and as an associate lecturer at The Scottish School Of Contemporary Dance and Dartington College of Arts, and is a visiting professor of Choreography at The Korean National University Of The Arts.

He originally gained a BA(Hons) in theatre and dance at Dartington (with an emphasis on Anatomical Release and Contact Improvisation, and was trained and influenced there, and since, by the work of Mary O’Donnell Fulkerson and Steve Paxton).
Ongoing research and teaching focuses on somatic, perceptual and physical tuning systems in choreographic and compositional form, and in environmental interaction, wild landscape and the potential for relationships between art, metaphor and nature. He has been nominated for an Isadora Duncan award in the USA.
Angus Balbernie

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