Melbourne performance legend and Australia’s high priestess of Japanese Butoh dance, Yumi Umiumare, returns with a new solo performance and gallery installation featuring her signature juxtaposing of tradition and counter-culture. Opening Friday 6 May at Fitzroy’s BLACKCAT Gallery, Buried TeaBowl – OKUNI is an intimate and epic solo performance installation bringing together dance, text, song and tea ceremony with stunning film footage. The work is inspired by radical Japanese female dancer and shaman Okuni, who initiated Kabuki theatre in the early 1600s. Undisputedly at the height of her creative powers, Umiumare pays homage to Okuni through this work, using the tea bowl as a metaphor for long-buried sacred female power. Through the 450-years-old ritual of Japanese tea ceremony, she excavates ancient stories and channels the multi-faceted character of the complex, powerful yet fragile Okuni, to reawaken her spirit. In addition to the nine performances, Buried TeaBowl – OKUNI will involve an immersive gallery experience. The performance space will be open during the Gallery’s opening hours of 11am to 5pm Wednesday through Sunday, and include installations, a contemporary Japanese tearoom, digital works, and soundscapes. Umiumare will also create pop-up tea ceremony spaces. Buried TeaBowl – OKUNI marks Umiumare’s long-awaited return to solo performance. Since moving to Australia in 1993, she has emerged as a leading force in the avant-garde dance world, spearheading the iconoclastic ButohOUT! festival as well as being in demand as a director and performance artist nationally and internationally. In 2018 the Green Room Awards Association awarded Umiumare the Geoffrey Milne Award for Contemporary and Experimental Performance, in recognition of her significant contribution to Melbourne performance.
Buried TeaBowl – Okuni Who : Yumi Umiumare, solo performance, installation, and tea ceremony Where : BLACKCAT Gallery, 420 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy When : Thursday 5 May through Sunday 15 May (Sundays 6:00pm, Wed—Sat nights 8:00pm) (see below for full details); show duration approx. 65 minutes Cost : $35 / $25 / Superiori-TEA $50 including a drink on arrival. Booking URL: https://www.trybooking.com/BYPCB
Coming up this week in May: 11 Wed 8pm 12 Thur 8pm 13 Fri 8pm 14 Sat 8pm 15 Sun 6pm
During the performance season, the installation is open daily from 11am-5pm. Tea ceremonies and other events will be held during gallery hours.
This season is supported by Besen Family Foundation and BLACKCAT Gallery. The creative development (2021) of the work was supported by the Australia Council for the Arts, City of Darebin and Abbotsford Convent Foundation.
“The final image is of a tea bowl mended with traditional gold joinery: a neat symbol for the way that ritual can restore a broken soul. The many fragments of this show do not adhere with the same smoothness… but there’s much here that glisters all the same.”—Andrew Fuhrmann, The Age
“Umiumare’s homage to Okuni, the power of ritual and female strength is a captivating work. It is fitting that this performance takes place in a gallery as what we witness often feel like art coming to life. She may be attempting to awaken the spirit of Okuni in Buried TeaBowl – Okuni, but through her generous guidance, Umiumare helps free the spirit inside all of us and provide us with a profoundly moving awakening.”—Myron My, mymelbournearts.com
Sydney-based comedian Jack Gow will showcase his unique coming-of-age story over eight nights at the Melbourne Fringe Festival this year, from Saturday 21 to Sunday 29 September.
Just A Small Town Boyis a hilarious, yet bittersweet, coming-of-age story exploring the idiosyncrasies of growing up as an outsider in small-town country NSW. This is a show about masculinity, failure and Nelson Mandela. It’s about slam poetry, the Year 12 formal, and patriarchal power structures. It’s about teen love, internalized homophobia, and drunkenly kissing your best friend at a house party to the sound of Timbaland. Inspired by the likes of Hannah Gadsby, David Sedaris, and Daniel Kitson, it’s a show for anyone who has ever been rejected by society, questioned their sexuality, or felt that they needed to compromise their true self in order to fit in.
Jack, described as “a growing force in Australian comedy” (Broadsheet), enjoyed a sold-out debut season last year at the MFF and earned high praise from reviewers and audiences alike. The talented wordsmith’s “wry, gentle storytelling” (Sydney Morning Herald) is characterised by hilarious personal anecdotes imbued with dark pathos.
Exploring the idiosyncrasies of growing up as an outsider in small-town country Australia, Jack’s show touches on identity politics, notions of traditional masculinity and the extreme lengths individuals go to try to belong.
His style has been described as “an anxious, apologetic eloquence that takes the everyday and makes it quietly marvellous” (★★★★ The Music), and he has been lauded as “one of the finest emerging comedians in the country” (Sydney Comedy Festival).
Talented Australian-Iranian musician Gelareh Pour is launching Garden Quartet, her band’s self-titled debut album, with a national tour beginning in July.
Gelareh formed Garden Quartet in 2016 in collaboration with Brian O’Dwyer, Arman Habibi and Mike Gallichio, creating and performing music which Gelareh describes as Iranian-Australian contemporary music fusing elements of world music, avant garde, alternative/indie post-rock, dark ambient and romantic, sung in Farsi.
Having studied in Iran and then obtained her Masters of Ethnomusicology at the University of Melbourne, she is a respected composer, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist master of Persian/Iranian instruments including Kamancheh (spiked fiddle) and Qeychak Alto (Iranian bowed lute). She has previously released three albums to widespread acclaim, and is a contributing member of Boite World Music Café and Victoria’s Iranian House of Music. Gelareh is now based in Melbourne where she regularly performs with some of Australia’s most innovative experimental musicians.
The theme of the album Garden Quartet is “more than one place”, drawing on Gelareh’s experiences and stories about living and creating music in two very different cultures, together with her bandmates’ differing cultural backgrounds and the stories they’ve carried along their personal journeys.
Gelareh also incorporates the stories of women who have had to flee from war-torn countries inspired by Gelareh’s academic research work on The Lives of Iranian Women Singers in Diaspora.
Celebrated as a vocalist of rare and ethereal skill, the 34-year-old has nonetheless experienced hardship as a female singer in Iran. There, she was only able to perform covertly in underground venues, as women are forbidden to sing solo in public under Islamic law. Women’s voices are viewed as “too provocative” and their hand movements when playing instruments deemed “too erotic”. As a result, Iranian women can only play instruments in male-led bands, or perform to all-female audiences, who must also obtain permits for all performances via an arduous bureaucratic process. By contrast, singing as a woman solo singer with no restrictions on the stage and in recordings is very special to her. In Australia, for the first time in her life, Gelareh feels she has true musical and creative freedom—a feeling of exhilaration that is beautifully expressed in the compositions on Garden Quartet.
Tickets are now on sale for the eagerly-awaited 2019 ButohOUT! Festival—Forbidden Laughter. Thanks to pioneering Japanese-Australian performance artists Yumi Umiumare and Takashi Takiguchi, Melburnians have the chance to experience this unique and captivating dance form. Incorporating elements of cabaret, Bouffon, burlesque and visual installations, Forbidden Laughter is created by Yumi Umiumare along with award-winning performer Maude Davey, and the unstoppable force of WEAVE Movement Theatre, devious duo Willow J Conway and Zya Kane, and the Butoh OUT! Ensemble.
About Butoh Australia’s love for dance shows no sign of waning and we’ve demonstrated our eagerness to embrace genres from around the world. We lap up the televised dance shows, from Dancing With The Stars to So, You Think You Can Dance. And on any night of the week, we can head to a class and kick up our heels in the style of our choice, whether it’s rock-and-roll, Latin, Irish, tap, line dancing, clogging and more. So when you think of imported dance styles, Butoh probably won’t spring to mind… and yet this Japanese-born performance medium offers us the chance to immerse ourselves in a fascinating, hitherto unexplored dance form that’s as revolutionary and subversive to dance as punk rock was to popular music. Butoh, the so-called Dance of Darkness, emerged out of post-WWII Japan as a rebellious and anti-establishment reaction to the country’s social turmoil. Butoh’s crude physical gestures and ‘natural’ movements rejected traditional Japanese aesthetics of refinement and understatement, and eschewed what creators Hijikata Tatsumi and Ohno Kazuo saw as the imitation of Western dance styles. Butoh dancers were commonly covered in white full body paint, near-naked with shaved heads, moving excruciatingly slowly with clawed hands and rolled-up eyes, silently screaming. The first Butoh performance at a Japanese dance festival in 1959—which incorporated a live chicken—shocked audiences and not only saw Hijikata banned from the festival, but established him as a cultural iconoclast.
ButohOUT! 2019—Forbidden Laughter Now in its third year, ButohOUT! challenges the perception of Butoh as dark and grotesque by combining the dancing with elements of cabaret, Bouffon, burlesque, physical theatre and visual installations. Celebrating the unique and powerful performance medium of Butoh, Forbidden Laughter invites audiences into surreal narratives through a bizarre and mysterious domesticated installation within the rustic industrial school of Abbotsford Convent. Forbidden Laughter is created and conceived by leading Butoh artist Yumi Umiumare in collaboration with Takashi, along with award-winning performance artist, Maude Davey and the unstoppable force of WEAVE Movement Theatre, devious duo Willow J Conway and Zya Kane and the Butoh OUT! Ensemble. Strange and absurd stories are woven between worlds that are mythically sacred and divinely carnal; the sensibilities of the East and West collide in a contemporary setting designed by the internationally acclaimed Thai sculptor, Pimpisa Tinpalit. The two-month Festival program includes four public workshops held in March and April, two weeks of performances from Thursday 2 May—Sunday 12 May, and discussion groups. Facilitated by professional award-winning performance and visual artists and theatre-makers, the workshops are designed to cater for all age groups and stages of accomplishment including absolute beginners through to dance professionals, making Butoh accessible and engaging for all. The performance season will involve workshop participants (including dancers from the renowned WEAVE Movement Theatre) as well as the workshop leaders.
Creative team: Artistic director Yumi Umiumare, Producer Takashi Takiguchi, Dramaturg Maude Davey, Visual artist Pimpisa Tinpalit. ButohOUT! is being held in partnership with Abbotsford Convent and is supported by the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria; Arts Access Victoria; and WEAVE Movement Theatre.
World-class Melbourne improv string trio BOWLINES releases second album
Three of Australia’s leading improvising bowed string players, Bowlines, will launch their new CD, Not All Who Wonder Are Last, on Sunday 7 October at Carlton Church of All Nations.
Not All Who Wonder Are Last is a wellspring of sparkling improvised instrumental music created by Australia’s leading klezmer violinist, Ernie Gruner, with virtuoso players Helen Mountfort (cello; Cosmo Cosmolino) and Hope Csutoros (violin, viola; The Stiletto Sisters, Circus Oz).
The recording captures the trio’s inspired interplay, their musical brilliance, and the love, trust and respect they bring to each other, their music, and the moment.
The CD is true to the trio’s collaborative and creative sensibilities in every way, with input from artists including storyteller Niki Na Meadhra. Niki’s choice of the title Not All Who Wonder Are Last is a beautiful word play on J R R Tolkien’s “Not all those who wander are lost” line from the poem “All that is gold does not glitter” (Lord of the Rings). It speaks to the notion that slowing down to wonder may be at first a delay, but ultimately it is an enhancement of pace, focus and direction in a creative journey.
Like watching a flock of birds circling at dusk, engaging in an unexpectedly enlivening conversation with a stranger at a party, or turning—on a whim—to saunter down an unfamiliar path, Not All Who Wonder Are Last evokes a sense of exploration, playful whimsy and the inherent value of taking time to wonder and ponder.
The launch concert will be a theatrical and musical extravaganza, featuring improvised music from Ernie, Hope and Helen, along with creative contributions from Adam Simmons (saxophone, flute, clarinet and words), Karen Berger (hang drum), and members of the Melbourne Playback Theatre Company as well as Travel Art Theatre Company.
Bowlines concerts are a breath-taking experience for audiences, inviting them to dive into a rich and intense new world of ephemeral music. The players’ melodies curve and weave, together and apart, creating harmonies that fill the space and reach into the heart. In the words of one audience member, “… it’s inspiring to be in the presence of the communion, the communication, the listening, the connection between the musicians and to receive the gift of their musical creation, happening in the moment”.
Their CD launch will offer Melbourne audiences a rare opportunity to hear these three world-class string musicians creating new music in the moment and inviting others to experience the magical and transformative power of collective improvisation.
Ernie Gruner formed the Bowlines trio in 2012 to create new improvised music by virtuoso bowed string players from eclectic backgrounds with a shared passion for improvising. The group’s music is inspired by The Necks (Australian experimental jazz trio), Coolangubra (atmospheric, genre-defying music), Kronos Quartet (celebrated contemporary US string quartet) and Born In A Taxi (improvisational theatre). Not All Who Wonder Are Last is Bowlines’ second CD (their debut was Circling Strangers).
Ernie Gruner (violin/viola, octave violin)
Ernie is widely recognised as Australia’s leading klezmer violinist and a significant contributor to the development of Australia’s world music scene (earning him a profile in Seth Jordan’s 2010 book World Music: Global Sounds in Australia).
Ernie has co-founded, performed, recorded with and guested in countless bands, theatre and cabaret groups, at countless major festivals and concert venues. He appeared twice on ABC TV’s musical quiz program, Spicks and Specks, and has more than 75 recording credits to his name.
His studies in New York, Kracow, Budapest and Montreal have helped him develop a technical brilliance that gives wings to his love of improvised music, resulting in inspired performances across multiple genres including klezmer, jazz, blues, Latin, art music, and folk (Middle Eastern, Balkan, Irish, Australian bush, gypsy), as well as in cabaret and theatre.
Renowned for his ambitious and ingenious musical collaborations, and as a much-loved fellow musician on the world music scene, he’s been a member of Dya Singh band (Sikh), Kalinka (European), Zingara (world/gypsy), Howlin’ Wind Band (world/rock) and accompanied Zulya Kamalova, Kavisha Mazzella, Bronwyn Calcutt, Gypsy Fire – Matthew Fagan, Texicali Rose (mariachi) Colin Reid, Brahim Benim (Moroccan), Afandi Siyo (Oromo/East African). As a classical musician, Ernie led the Monash String Quartet for 10 years and was an orchestral violinist.
His theatre involvement and collaborations include Melbourne Playback Theatre, Cafe Scheherezade, Progress and Melancholy, Our Chalk Circle, Dante, Russian Soup , Emma Celebrazione, Blue Absinthe and cabaret with Jugularity.
Hope Csutoros (violin, viola) (left hand side of photo)
Hope Csutoros studied at the Victorian College of the Arts and the Budapest Franz Liszt Academy of Music in Hungary. Performances and touring overseas includes My Friend the Chocolate Cake, Stiletto Sisters, Circus Oz, State Orchestra of Victoria, Phantom of the the Opera, David Chesworth Ensemble, Chamber Made Opera, and Deflocked String Quartet. Her recording credits include Midnight Oil, Deborah Conway, Mark Seymour and Renee Geyer.
Helen Mountfort (cello) (centre of photo)
Helen Mountfort performs with Fine Blue Thread, Cosmo Cosmolino and Not Drowning, Waving. She was a member of DeFlocked, improvising string quartet, and also David Chesworth Ensemble and My Friend The Chocolate Cake. She has recorded with many Australian artists including Missy Higgins, Archie Roach, Paul Kelly, Midnight Oil, Renee Geyer, Mark Seymour and the John Butler Trio.
SPECIAL GUESTS—BOWLINES CD LAUNCH
Adam Simmons (saxophone)
A virtuoso player of saxophones, clarinets, flute and shakuhachi (Japanese flute), Adam Simmons stretches the boundaries of modern composition and infuses a sense of wonder and playfulness into musical art forms better known for their gravitas. His performances are not so much ‘concerts’ as staged auditory spectacles—drawing audiences in to share in the uniquely communal power and euphoria of his music and art. He has a rare and uncanny ability to elicit the very best from the highly accomplished musicians he works with, as well as evoking spine-tingling emotion and rapturous applause from audiences.
Karen Berger (hang drum)
Karen has worked in Australia, Asia, Africa and Europe as a director, musical director, actor and musician. Career highlights include: devising and performing in an Edinburgh Festival Fringe First winning show, Believer (1992); improvising fairy stories for Bosnian children in Slovenian refugee camps (1993); musical directing and performing in a dance/music piece at the Melbourne City Baths, Walk on Water (2000); devising and directing a West African tour of Ashanti short stories, Who Stole Daawa’s Tail? (2004); playing teapot for the Melbourne International Arts Festival and Singapore International Children’s Festival in the Teapot Ensemble of Australia (2007) and co-directing ‘Forest Beats’, an outdoor circus show with 300 Zambian street children (2013).
Last year she was commissioned by the Dandenong Ranges Music Council to compose Bells of Peace for the Federation Bells at Birrarung Marr.
The original Hang (meaning ‘hand’ in Bernese German) was created in Switzerland in 2000. It uses some of the same basic physical principles as a steelpan, but modified in such a way as to act as a Helmholtz resonator – i.e. Air resonance in a cavity. Each note has a complex range of harmonics.
Travel Art Dance Company
Founded in 2003, Travel Art Dance Company brings together dancers from a range of dance and movement backgrounds, with the motivation behind the group being the combination of choreographed and improvised dance in a performance context. The experience of the dancers in the group ranges from contemporary dance, classical ballet, improvisation and creative dance to yoga, gymnastics, acrobalance, circus skills and martial arts.
Melbourne Playback Theatre Company
Melbourne Playback is a leading interactive theatre company that has been creating performances, professional training and workshops which transform, empower and entertain for over 30 years. They use personal story and the principles of improvisation as ways to awaken new perspectives.
NOT ALL WHO WONDER ARE LAST—CD DETAILS
Release date: October 2018
Name of album : Not All Who Wonder Are Last
Artist : Bowlines
Musicians: Ernie Gruner (violin, viola, octave violin), Helen Mountfort (cello), Hope Csutoros (violin, viola)
Genre/s : World / improvised / art music / strings / classical
Recorded: Live at Northcote Uniting Church, Victoria, Australia, 30 October 2016
Recorded by: Nao Anzai and Yasutomo Umeki
Mixed & mastered by : Nao Anzai, Toys Of Noise
Australian distribution : Readings Carlton (309 Lygon St, Carlton), Captain Stomp (46 Forest Rd, Ferntree Gully) and L’Espresso Ballarat (417 Sturt St)
Via Ernie Gruner email@example.com ($20 inc postage within Aus)
Label : Independent
Cover art : Jamie de Rooij, DesignCrowd
CD layout : Implant Media
Photography : Rowan Gruner, Shawket Husseini
CD and track titles by: Niki Na Meadhra, storyteller
Australia’s foremost jazz and blues music festival, Wangaratta Festival of Jazz & Blues, to be held from Friday 2nd through Sunday 4th November in Wangaratta, north-east Victoria, has announced a stunning program of international and Australian artists to tempt travellers, lovers of live music and locals alike.
This year’s program is the most internationally-diverse in the festival’s history, with the likes of electrifying UK blues guitarist Matt Schofield, US ‘sonic explorers’ FORQ, German jazz-hip-hop piano group Trio ELF, and, in a welcome return to Wangaratta for the first time since 2010, the Netherlands’ Yuri Honing Quartet.
And the local line-up promises to be stronger and more inspiring than ever, featuring the world premiere of the Australian Art Orchestra’s new work, revered Indigenous Australian jazz vocalist Wilma Reading, all-female soul band Sweethearts, Ray Beadle coming out of retirement to perform on both jazz and blues stages with Clayton Doley and Red Hands, and Tina Harrod performing her lauded new album, City of Longing, as well as guest-starring on the beloved annual Jazz Mass program.
Festival Chair Mark Bolsius praised the artistic team—Zoe Hauptmann, Frank Davidson, Scott Solimo and Adam Simmons—for creating a program jam-packed with fresh new faces, venerable favourites and award-winning musicians from the UK, US, France, Japan, Indonesia, the Czech Republic, India, The Netherlands, Asia, Germany, Sri Lanka, Canada and Australia.
“This year really builds on the successful rebirth of the festival in 2017, when our new venues, partnerships, precinct layout and programming team were universally endorsed by audiences, artists and music critics,” Mr Bolsius said.
“Not only do we have the most diverse international line-up ever, but we continue to offer a world-class Australian line-up, something that is unique to this festival. With more than 300 musicians in over 80 concerts across eight concert locations, we promise there’s something for everyone. We’re confident that we have the right mix of music, artists, stages and programming to satisfy and delight not just serious jazz and blues aficionados, but also tourists to northeast Victoria and of course our local music-lovers.”
Artist highlights include:
UK blues guitarist, Matt Schofield, whose virtuoso playing has seen him named as one of the top 10 British Blues Guitarists of all time and inducted into the British Blues Hall of Fame;
World-class sonic improvisers, FORQ, from the US, featuring keyboardist Henry Hey (David Bowie, Empire of the Sun) and bassist Michael League (Grammy-winning leader of Snarky Puppy) and touring their third album Thrēq;
Vocalist Wilma Reading, whose numerous international career highlights include touring with the Duke Ellington Orchestra, performing on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, lead roles on London’s West End, and featuring at New York’s Copacabana Night Club;
From The Netherlands, the Yuri Honing Quartet, in a welcome return to Wangaratta for the first time since 2010, this time with an acclaimed new album, Goldbrun;
The world premiere of a new work by the Australian Art Orchestra—a contemplation of the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day in music by Andrea Keller, Peter Knight and Tilman Robinson;
A slew of inspired local/overseas collaborations including The Three Seas, a cross-cultural and cross-genre collaboration between musicians from India and Australia;
The new Victorian Youth Jazz Collective, led by James Mustafa, paving the way for a whole new generation of young jazz musicians;
Opelousas, a new blues collaboration between Kerri Simpson, Alison Ferrier and Anthony ‘Shorty’ Shortte of Collard Greens and Gravy fame;
Ex-Canberra guitarist, Alex Stuart, touring with his French quintet;
Wild woman of blues and 2017-18 MBAS Blues Performer of The Year, Kelly Auty, performing her new all-original blues album, Kelly’s Blues;
The Adam Simmons Creative Music Ensemble with the Afrolankan Drumming System (Ray Pereira) and Indian dancer Vikram Iyengar performing The Calling;
2017 National Jazz Award winner, James Macaulay, with the Hishakaku Quartet;
Triple J Unearthed indie-jazz-roots darlings, JAKAL, with Jessie Hillel (NZ) on vocals;
A rare performance by jazz royalty, Ten Part Invention, celebrating over 30 years of creating music. The festival is thrilled to have on the bill this ‘small big band’ of virtuoso composer-improvisers, described one the Radio National Music Show as “one of the most expressive large ensembles to emerge from Australia”.
Since 1989 the Wangaratta Festival of Jazz and Blues grown to become an internationally renowned event attracting around 25,000 visitors and 200 jazz and blues artists from the US, the UK, Europe and Australia to regional north-east Victoria every November.
With a diverse, eclectic mix of jazz greats and rising stars, each year the program showcases jazz and blues of all styles, including original, contemporary, traditional, mainstream, experimental and improvised. A central feature remains the National Jazz Awards; a competition designed to encourage and promote young musicians. The Festival has won numerous tourism and sponsorship awards, and is recognised internationally as the foremost jazz and blues event in Australia.