An Act of Now is the latest offering from one of Australia’s most heralded modern dance companies, Chunky Move. This world premiere, showing at the Melbourne Festival, also marks a changing of the guard.

It’s the first show for new artistic director Anouk van Dijk after founder and former artistic director Gideon Obarzanek stepped down this year after more than 15 years.

An Act of Now is the third part in a series of projects from van Dijk, looking at human behaviour and interaction with each other, and our surroundings.

Chunky Move dancers Leif Helland, Alya Manzart and James Pham (pictured below) sat down with the Star Observer to discuss their own debut performances with the company this month.

“I guess it’s different stages on different group dynamics and different group scenarios that kind of just occur or happen at that present point in time and how it goes from its quite undefined in the beginning of the work,” Helland said.

“It starts with the greenhouse full of smoke and these figures sort of come out and emerge as silhouettes and shapes and you can’t really tell whether it’s a shadow or human and it gets clearer and clearer as the work goes through.”

The first two performances were performed in van Dijk’s home country, the Netherlands, and this third instalment incorporates both past performances and future improvised works with her new troupe.

“[Anouk] would give us information around specific ideas, specific things she wants to go to… and then we would kind of improvise within that,” Manzart said.

“It’s got to fit to our group dynamic and be remade, like if Anouk has an idea that she wants to continue working on she’ll reform it around the dancers she’s working with at the moment to make it natural or make sense to us as well, instead of trying to recreate something,” Helland said.

“…yes, she creates the work but it still comes from us,” Manzart added.

As part of the show, audience members wear earphones to create a “cocoon” effect for a truly individual experience.

“It allows the audience to feel like they are included and they are not outsiders which I think is really great because in a way it’s kind of what the piece is about,” Pham said.

“We’re symbolically representing human behaviours and we are being watched by humans.”

Van Dijk has captivated her dancers and the company, with both singing her praises, describing her work as daring, innovative and unpredictable in both its form and context.

“She’s obviously very experienced and has a lot to offer as an artistic director and a choreographer but also a teacher,” Pham said.

INFO: An Act of Now runs from October 17-27 at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl www.melbournefestival.com.au

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