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Out of Earshot

11 May 2017

Out of Earshot Image

By Meg Hill

Southbank venue Chunky Move is hosting a conceptual highlight of the Melbourne International Jazz Festival with KAGE’s live dance and music performance Out of Earshot.

KAGE Physical Theatre teamed up with profoundly deaf dancer Anna Seymour and percussionist Myele Manzanza to create a performance that “explores the power of non-verbal language, intense physical prowess and the role that sound plays within communication”.

KAGE creative director Gerard Van Dyke highlights that Out of Earshot also explores the communicating role of touch in a show that audience members should anticipate as intensely physical.

“There are bodies moving and touching and calling and yelling. It’s drawn on a lot of contact and partnering work that we’ve done,” he said.

The performance is designed for both deaf and hearing audiences and utilises the commonalities of human communication. Gerard says that social commentary on communication and inclusivity was something that was “natural for them to explore”.

“We don’t like to settle in our ways. As an organisation, we are turning 20 this year and this is the first time we are using live music central to the work. We’ve used a lot of pre-recorded music before, but not live music,” he said.

Using percussion as the central musical element is a rare move, but aligns with the themes behind Out of Earshot.

Featured dancer Anna Seymour can’t hear anything. She says hearing-impaired audiences are drawn to lower frequency instruments.

But, Myele Manzanza doesn’t solely contribute to the performance in terms of soundtrack. His explosive live drumming is also a physical element of the show.

“We’re playing with the vibration of the drums but also the image it creates,” Gerard said. “He is basically doing his own dance.”

This multi-purposed nature ties in beautifully with the overarching concept behind the show and its attempt to synthesise different elements of communication. In fact, so does the entire process of its creation.

“We have had Auslan translators in the room to be as efficient as possible …  it’s not a hack job,” Gerard said.

“Auslan doesn’t replace English, it is another language – the order of grammar changes. Choreographically, we’ve been playing with that.”

Out of Earshot previews on May 31 and runs officially from September 1 to September 10. Tickets can be bought online at

www.melbournejazz.com/program/out-of-earshot

KAGE and Chunky Move are also holding a workshop with the Melbourne Fringe Festival on May 9 run by Anna and Gerard around dance, movement and choreography.

To book visit www.kage.com.au/participate/

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