Melbournes contemporary dance renaissance and a decade of Dance Massive festival go hand in hand
Contemporary dance began for me in 2015, midway through a Tim Darbyshire show called Stampede the Stampede. A little like Phillip Larkin, I was late to the party. Better late than never.
For 15 long minutes, Darbyshire head-banged to a monstrous beat. I mean, he really head-banged I became genuinely concerned about the health of his frontal lobe. Later in the show, he ended up standing on his head while an earthquake happened. In Tim Humphrey and Madeline Flynns ingenious sound design, a sub-woofer powerful enough to shake loose the pebbles and boulders strewn across it caused a low-frequency rock slide.
I was mesmerised. If this was contemporary dance, then I was all for it.
Of the art forms that vie for our extremely short attention spans, dance has long struggled for the popular enthusiasm it deserves. Official statistics count it as one of the smaller and more specialised of the performing arts. Jokes about it still linger in popular culture.
Thats a shame, because contemporary dance might just be Australias most exciting art form right now.