EDWA 2020: David Huggins and Caitlin Davey

Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre, Auckland

03/12/2020 - 03/12/2020

Experimental Dance Week Aotearoa 2020

Production Details

David Huggins, Performing Object I

Performer: Olivia McGregor, originally performed by David Huggins. Due to Covid-19 restrictions in travel between Australia and NZ this amazing solo was taught through the internet in a process embodying the times for live work. We thank these artists for their adaptability and commitment.

Performing Object I was born from the conflicting desires for productivity and wanting time for stillness and contemplation in the studio. It was originally devised through a playful process, rigorously ‘doing less’ and imagining what it might feel like to be a lonely artwork in a gallery. I turned to the furniture in the studio as potential dance partners, exploring how human-made objects choreograph us into posture, gesture and movement, just as our bodies act on them.

Thank you Olivia for stepping in for EDWA. I will be watching from afar.

I thank ReadyMade Works Studio in Sydney for their support in developing this work (and allowing me to abduct their stools for another adventure). I acknowledge the Gadigal people of the Eora nation, on whose land this work was made.

Caitlin Davey, Stargirl

A shadow lullaby with a lonely audience by a wanderer made of stardust.

Heald Theatre, 7pm

Performance installation , Multi-discipline , Experimental dance , Dance , Contemporary dance ,

1 hour

The transformative power of frames in art making

Review by Katrina Bastian 04th Dec 2020

Response to David Huggins “Performing Object I” 

It’s a slow start to David Huggins’ Performing Object I. The audience enters the theatre to find a naked body laying amongst a pile of chairs. The doors stay open for late comers as we chit chatter in anticipation for what is to come. And what is to come is a performance of delicious intimacy and a testament to transformation. As the doors close we are left in silence, the rhythmic breathing of dancer Olivia McGregor, performing in David Huggins’ stead, and the occasional chimes of metal chair legs as McGregor begins to wake from stillness. The image is of a caterpillar weaving itself into its cocoon- anticipating transformation.

Transformation is painful, the deathlike intermission as the caterpillar becomes butterfly- only McGregor does not transform into a butterfly. Rather she metamorphoses into a statuesque likeness to Michelangelo’s David. There’s an awkwardness to her movement, a messiness in the unpredictability of the chairs- there are too many of them and not enough of her. These museum chairs act as a frame for the limbs she penetrates through them. Again, it’s a bit wild, and sensual in the truest sense of the word- not as sexual, but as full of sensation. It’s exhausting in the best sense of the word, as I am left reflecting on the transformative power of frames in art making. I think of a Jonathan Burrows quote: “ the interests and prejudices that I have are entirely coincidental to do with who I am and what I have fallen into, and things that have worked and things that have not.” The longer McGregor lives amongst the chairs, the more it works, because it allows for the space of my own prejudice and interests. I begin to see the caterpillar emerging towards butterfly. My neighbour might see something entirely different. On the surface, Performing Object I is a nude performer and a bunch of chairs, but in actuality this work by Huggins is a testament to associative athleticism, the athletic pursuit of our ingrained need to make meaning. 


Response to Caitlin Davey “Stargirl”

Caitlin Davey’s Stargirl is a work in nostalgic relief – an invocation to return to a calmer, safer time. The dream state of a child. That moment where you were fighting wakefulness, trying to stay awake until the end of the lullaby, but ultimately drifting into blissful sleep. I think of Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s Little Prince – its sombre tone, the loneliness that runs throughout the Prince’s travels from planet to planet. Davey ends the performance spinning wildly, a whirling dervish-like desire to reach an altered state, and yet, when she stops spinning, she does not wander aimlessly, instead she stands still and then melts into the floor. Like the Prince bitten by the snake and wordlessly falling to the ground, so too does Davey’s light seem to have been extinguished by this spinning practice. We are left with an eerie lullaby that conflates with the melodies of lament. I am left wondering about the proximity of sleep and death, the Edgar Allen Poe quote: “Sleep, those little slices of death— how I loathe them.” Only that I’m not quite sure if Stargirl is trying to evoke reverence or loathing towards sleep.


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