Premiered at Dance Massive, Arts House, Meat Market Melbourne, March, 2009.
Four men take to the stage in Untrained. Two are highly skilled, experienced dancers and two have no movement training at all. The complex, refined movements that one man executes with ease can only be approximated by another. All are given the same instructions, but how they execute them reveals a portrait of each man’s character. The evolution of these actions invites an unavoidable and sometimes humorous comparison between them, and examines how their physical histories set them apart.
Untrained combines two highly skilled and experienced dancers with two men who have absolutely no dance training whatsoever. The four men are given identical instructions to execute the same series of movements, from flying leaps and ninja kicks to taking their t-shirts on and off and describing how they do it. The way they execute these movements speaks volumes about the very different physical histories of each individual performer. The complex, polished movements of the trained can only be approximated by the untrained, while there is a raw spontaneity to the movements of an untrained body that cannot be replicated by the body of an experienced dancer. Untrained has no set and the performers are dressed in rehearsal tracksuits. The repetition of the instruction by each dancer is the focus of the work, and the differences between the performers become apparent as soon as they walk on stage.
The resulting performances had audiences laughing, cheering and applauding the gallant efforts of the untrained performers as they tried to follow the sophisticated movements of the trained dancers. The laughter of audiences was, for Lucy, completely unexpected, but it was soon clear that the untrained men “were ultimately the stars of the show. Audiences imagine themselves in the same position and ask themselves ‘What would I do?’”(Southbank Centre Blog, 2013). They admire not only the skill and virtuosity of the dancers, but the courage and unique approach of the men without training.
Since it premiered in Melbourne in 2009, Untrained has been so warmly received by audiences that it has been performed across Australia and internationally, including the US, Hong Kong and Brazil. It soon became clear that to maintain the untrained dancers’ spontaneity and lack of familiarity with the movements, the cast needed to change regularly. Auditions are now held to recruit the untrained performers for each show, and just one week is spent on rehearsals. In 2013, Untrained was performed in Ireland, Greece and the UK.
20-21 October: Theater im Pfalzbau, Germany.
25-26 May: Dublin Dance Festival, Dublin
28 May: Firkin Crane, Cork.
1-2 June: Athens and Epidaurus Festival, Athens.
4-6 June: Southbank Centre, London.
27 November – 1 December: Brooklyn Academy of Music, USA.
6-8 December: Mondavi Centre for the Performing Arts, University of California, Davis. USA
4 March: Mildura Wentworth Arts Festival, Mercy Theatre, Mildura Roadworks – Performing Lines Australian Tour.
13-14 May: Judith Wright Centre, Brisbane.
24 May: Lismore City Hall, Lismore.
27 May: Empire Theatre, Toowoomba .
30 May: Jetty Memorial Theatre, Coffs Harbour .
1-2 June: Civic Theatre, Newcastle.
10-11 June: IPAC, Wollongong .
20-21 June: BMEC, Bathurst.
22-23 June: Orange Civic Centre, Orange.
2 July: Nautilus Theatre, Pt Lincoln .
5 July: Middleback Theatre, Whyalla .
7 July: Northern Festival Centre, Pt Pirie .
15-16 July: The Capital Theatre, Bendigo .
19 July: Swan Hill Town Hall, Swan Hill .
21 July: Wesley Performing Arts Centre, Horsham.
22 July: Hamilton Performing Arts Centre, Hamilton.
23 July: Portland Arts Centre, Portland.
29-30 July: Canberra Theatre Centre, Canberra
24-28 February: Adelaide Festival, Adelaide Centre for the Arts, 39 Light Square, Adelaide
, Spotlight performance for the Australian Performing Arts Market.
13-14 March: Hong Kong Arts Festival, Asia Pacific Dance Platform.
28-29 May: The Castle, Dandenong.
3 June: Frankston Arts Centre, Frankston
5 June: Kingston Arts Centre 20 June: Australian Dance Awards, Arts Centre Melbourne.
3-5 November: Panorama Festival, Brazil.
25-27 November: Awesome Festival Perth, PICA.
Premiere – 11-14 March: Dance Massive, Arts House, Meat Market Melbourne.
1-4 September: Spring Dance Festival, Sydney Opera House.
“A fascinating combination of dance, theatre, improvisation and multimedia, all presented with just the right amount of quirk and irreverence.”
Simmone Michelle-Wells, Australian Stage, 2009.
Images: The original ‘Untrained’ artists