How do you put waiting into movement? This was the bewildered question of the dramaturg employed to assist dancers Michael O’Donoghue and Michael Whaites, although O’Donoghue already had plenty of ideas.
It’s about the things that we go through, the processes when we’re sitting on a couch or a beach, in a waiting room, at the bus stop, it’s about the kind of things that go through our head, O’Donoghue says. We have an internal rhythm thing that we do -“ we bounce our knees or we fidget -¦ So we make movement phrases based around that as well, like sometimes you happen to be copying another person and you turn around and you happen to be in the same position.
One major influence on Waiting For Michael was Waiting For Godot, although this masterpiece of modern theatre is not a work acclaimed for its poetry of movement. The characters’ tragedy is their stasis, a stillness O’Donoghue finds overstated.
Not that O’Donoghue has spent much time waiting for anything. The Hobart-based dancer has performed in Belgium with Jos?esprosvany, in Vienna with Elio Gervasi Tanz Theatre and now works with Tasdance and Terrapin Puppet Theatre. Waiting For Michael is being shown at the Performance Space as a double bill for One Extra Dance Company, and the project had its genesis in a grant earned by O’Donoghue. He called up his old pal Whaites.
It’s our first thing together, O’Donoghue says. We’ve visited each other in Europe; Michael was in Germany and I was in Belgium so I’d go and visit him while he was working with Pina Bausch and I was working with a Belgian company -¦ (Yes, both dancers are gay, but partners in dance only.)
Initially I had a work that I was going to do about two guys on a couch and it was virtually the same kind of thing -“ what you would do with someone if you could, he trails off, with no one watching, that kind of thing -¦ We found that the basic element of all that we were doing was waiting.
By this stage, it’s all beginning to sound suspiciously sexual.
Yes, laughs O’Donoghue. That’s part of the undertone of it as well. It’s just like when you’re at a bar, you’re waiting for someone and someone else turns up and you think, okay, they’re kinda cute, I’d like to get to know them as well.
The subtle turn, the shifting weight, the lightning glance: this sounds like a modern dance we can all relate to.
Waiting For Michael is showing with Inside Out at the Performance Space, 199 Cleveland Street, Redfern, until 14 December. Tickets range from $10 to $18 and may be booked on 9698 7235.