11 February 2015 Comment
+Melbourne Art Review: Thanks for chatting with us Jay. Can you tell us a bit about your practice, as a dancer?
Jay Robinson: “I have a range of influences and approaches in my dance making. Improvisational tasks, poetic writing, contemporary dance and athletics are the main resources for my creative exertions. Seeing as I began my creative pursuits initially in theatre, there always feels like a narrative, or storytelling principal to my choreographic inclinations. At the moment I’m interested in the idea of pure embodiment. Taking an issue subject or topic and seeing what my body wants to do to describe these reflections and investigations. Then crafting these physical offers to really get my point across. If there’s no reason for me to move then, I can’t possibly have a reason to choreograph.”
+mar: Who, or what, are you inspired by at the moment?
JR: ” My biggest influences at the moment would be Australian Choreographer, Rosalind Crisp. Crisp, who trains in improvisational approaches to dance making has helped uncover new avenues to the generation of choreographic suggestions.
Old time favourite, German Choreographer Pina Bausch is a constant inspiration for me in the studio always trying to find the truth of what movement means and where it can come from; incorporating not only the body but the voice and life of the dancer alongside theatrical influences in quality of movement.”
+mar: When did you start creating? How did you find yourself as a dancer?
JR: “I started creating really, in my bedroom during my childhood. Many an hour was spent jumping around to my pop idols in my room behind my parents back. This initially need to do so is still the driving factor that keeps me constantly interested in movement. After graduating from Acting school and feeling disillusioned at the prospect of becoming a headshot in a book full of other actors, I decided to audition for a Dance Performance degree in Adelaide. I was accepted, graduated and worked with a few companies in Australia but working as an independent was what I enjoyed the most. Last year I graduated from VCA in the post grad Choreography course and now I find myself at this point in my making although I still find myself dancing in my bedroom just as much as when I was little!”
+mar: Can you tell us a bit about your most recent show, PONY, for Midsumma Festival that just closed at Theatre Works?
JR: “PONY is a biographical work that reflects my journey of constructing a male sexual identity in the social landscape that is Australia. The work is born from a deep excavation of my own experiences and observations in attaining my understanding of myself growing up in this country.
Initially in the process of creating a work, I gather subjects, images, and call on lived experiences, both lived or observational. Improvisation tasks are performed and videoed for documenting after a period of deep meditation and reflection. PONY began as a script, much like that of a play. I began writing an emotional and biographical arch and narrative looking at the most significant things that I believed help contribute to my personal evolution. Research for this project involved revisiting the history of queer evolution. Looking at pioneers such as Harvey Milk and Allan Ginsburg, I began to find inspiration in these famous figures and they’re drive for making change in people’s attitudes from drawing from their own experiences. By approaching my own creative endeavours in a fashion similar to that of Ginsburg, what was born was my own personal liberation of my own life through my arts practice.
My hopes for my work PONY is to cause people to reflect on their own life. What things affected their own personal evolution? Although greatly focused within a queer setting, I believe that the search for meaning in our lives, the longing for love, the destruction that can come from being hurt and the enlightenment that can come with reflection and forgiveness is one that is universal, regardless of sexual preference. Although in saying that, the experience of homosexuality within that evolution is not like that of any other subculture. I looked at this unique culture and wanted to get us thinking more about how our own experiences shape us from childhood to adult. The good, the bad, the ugly, the beautiful, the masculine, the feminine, the fragility and the strength; all that contributes to being a contemporary gay man.”
+mar: Do you have any advice or tips for other creatives?
JR: “Make a list of people that inspire you. Listen to what your intuition tells you to do and make. Have heroes and idols and know their history and understand what set them apart from the rest. Research the history of your chosen medium and find a way to make yourself apart of it. One of the biggest challenges here in Melbourne as an artist, is that it’s such an over stimulated city. With so much going on, and so many other artists, it’s hard to find a place at times. Have no fear, don’t compare your work to others, and just rise above and make it. If no one gives you an opportunity, give birth to one then raise it and care for it like a growing baby. Make it yours.”
+mar: What’s your favourite cafe in Melbourne?
JR: “Gluttony Is Sin, Smith st, Fitzroy.
This is my favourite place to grab a strong coffee in the morning to get my day started and watch the array of interesting characters walking down my favourite street in Melbourne. Having lived in Collingwood for over 5 years, this daily ritual is never boring. And the coffee is always strong!”
+mar: Hahah! Perfect! We love a strong long black. What are you working toward next?
JR: “I’d like to continue to get PONY performed at other queer festivals and events in Australia. I’d like to look for a residency to further develop choreographic approaches to making and teaching these skills to younger dancers.”
+mar: Exciting! Thanks so much for chatting with us Jay.