Since its 2010 premiere Garry Stewart’s globally renowned tour de force has left critics and audiences speechless.
Garry Stewart’s Be Your Self reveals the precarious stability of the concept of the self as the work steps through the conventions we use to convince ourselves of a singular ‘I’. In this extraordinary creation Stewart situates the body at the epicentre of his inquiry and finds that it is the primary site through which we create our sense of self. Our emotions, moods and psychological states are just as much a component of our physical reality as any other bodily function including our heartbeat or respiration.
Despite our civilising cultural inscriptions, the body is a force to be reckoned with. In Be Your Self the ADT dancers are transformed into erupting, powerful, creative entities projecting a mountain of startling physical images and impressions set to a wildly unpredictable, cartoonish, electronic score created by long term ADT collaborator Brendan Woithe (KLANG). Stewart worked on the creation of this text with Professor Ian Gibbons – the former Professor of Physiology at Flinders University – as well as the company physiotherapist Michael Heynen.
In preparation for the work Stewart and the dancers spent a day with Professor Ian Gibbons examining preserved cadavers at the Flinders Medical Centre in Adelaide. They also underwent a period of Buddhist meditation focusing on the nature of the self.
Having trained in a number of physical disciplines including contemporary, ballet breakdance, yoga and gymnastics, the dancers of ADT have become legendary as virtuosic performers who push the boundaries of what we commonly associate with contemporary dance. Be Your Self has already been performed in Germany, Belgium, Portugal, Austria, the UK, France, Luxembourg, Spain, the Netherlands as well as in Sydney and Perth and across Australia, enjoying rapturous critical and audience appraisal.
Collaborating with visionary New York architectural firm Diller, Scofidio +Renfro (MacArthur Foundation ‘Genius Award’ recipients) on an ingenious set design, Stewart wields dance, spoken text, video graphics and architectural design to collapse the underpinnings of who we think we are.
Returning to Melbourne for the first time since 2013, don’t miss the chance to experience the invigorating physical power of Australian Dance Theatre’s Be Your Self.
Be Your Self was co-produced by the Grand Theatre de la Ville de Luxembourg, La Rose des Vents Villeneuve d’Ascq, Le Rive Gauche Centre Culturel de Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, Centro Cultural Vila Flor and Arts SA’s Major Commission Fund.
Photo Credit – Chris Herzfeld Camlight Productions
News & Reviews
The result is an exhilarating dance work that is entertaining to watch and interesting to think about. Analysis is there for the taking but it doesn’t overwhelm the enjoyment of watching nine outstanding dancers in a constantly moving jigsaw of limbs and torsos.
Be Your Self is a slick multimedia production performed by a confident company of strong dancers that literally fling themselves into the physicality of the choreography.
Whenever I see contemporary dance as good as the Australian Dance Theatre’s Be Your Self, I’m made to wonder anew what a wonderful thing the body is.
Be Your Self is laudable for exemplifying, once again, ADT’s determination to be itself, its whole self and nothing but itself. There is no dance, theatre or dance-theatre company quite like it, anywhere, to the very best of my knowledge. It presses buttons, provokes responses and nudges borders others don’t, through visceral choreography that’s free from self-conscious concerns related to arbitrary and questionable convictions about line, elegance and sophistication.
Recommended for ages 12+. Includes strobe lighting, loud noises, partial female nudity and theatrical haze effects.