Scene News: Arts Centre Melbourne’s Supersense Festival Of The Ecstatic

Set within Supersense, Art Centre Melbourne’s three-day festival of ecstatic performance curated by Sophia Brous, sits Supersense MINIMAL – a program of master artists from across 20th century performance mining worlds of intense sonic beauty, contemplation and sublime minimalism.

Across four hours on Saturday 24 August, audiences will be given the opportunity to slow down, meditate and enter into a space of wonder and inspiration, in a program of exquisite music, performance and dance artistry. 

Among the icons and next generation artists of sonic innovators are legendary free-jazz pioneer Roscoe Mitchell (USA) of the Art Ensemble of Chicago; the iconic Merce Cunningham company dancers in an Australian exclusive homage to Merce Cunningham in the Cunningham Centennial Solos: Melbourne, UK sound artist Graham Lambkin (UK) with celebrated composer and multi-instrumentalist wunderkind James Rushford and Canadian sound artist crys cole (CAN) in a line-up of exceptional explorers of mesmeric sonic imagination.

“In Supersense 2019 we are exploring and navigating an entire history of movements, disciplines, cultures, contemporary extrapolations of what the ecstatic is and how we as human beings seek out ecstatic transformations.  Midpoint to the festival is MINIMAL – a program beckoning us to listen as it explores possibilities of time, duration and repetition within a program that gives us the chance to slow down, listen and focus together,” says Sophia Brous.

A bona fide pioneer of 20th century jazz, free jazz and improvisation, Roscoe Mitchell has been attributed the moniker of having reshaped modern music.  From co-founding the epoch-making Art Ensemble of Chicago to recording more than 100 solo and collaborative albums, this maverick saxophonist’s tireless expeditions to new and sound-expanding spaces has inspired generations of artists in his wake.

A master in baritone and bass saxophones, oboe, clarinet, flute and piccolo, Mitchell is truly a legendary musician who is still breaking through thresholds of creativity today.  Mitchell will be on stage with his beloved Art Ensemble of Chicago elsewhere on the Supersense program, however his pared back MINIMAL performance is set to be a rare audience treat. 

Few figures in contemporary dance loom as large as Merce Cunningham. A key figure of the New York modernist underground, he is one of, if not the most significant choreographers of the 21st century.  To mark his centenary this year, three esteemed institutions – London’s Barbican, New York’s BAM and CAP UCLA in Los Angeles – gathered former dancers from his company to pass on his choreography to a new generation in Night of 100 Solos. These dancers were given the right to perform their solos for two years, taking up the role of custodian of the legacy of one of modern dance’s most towering figures. 

As part of MINIMAL, in an exclusive Australian presentation, former Cunningham dancers Dylan Crossman and Kimberley Bartosik, bring the iconic choreography to life in Cunningham Centennial Solos: Melbourne. Dancers Christian Allen, Aaron Burr Johnson and Lindsey Jones will perform some of these solos to celebrate the centenary of the legendary choreographer’s life and career.

Some artists push the limits of their form. Avant-guard sound poet, Graham Lambkin has you questioning whether they exist. The English-born multidisciplinary artist Lambkin’s work embraces questions of environment, ecology and decay through the surreal and oblique handling of audio, visual and text-based mediums. An uncompromising mind who refuses to heed convention, his output can baffle, confront and alarm, but just as often something emerges from the seeming chaos that offers glimpses of the sublime. Submit to his strange invitations and discover for yourself what drives this singular creator.

There have always been spaces between the notes you hear. That’s where Australian contemporary composer-performer James Rushford lives. Playing a one-of-a-kind organ, he reconfigures late-Medieval keyboard works like a sonic kaleidoscope, spinning threads in all directions to wondrous modern effect.  

For Supersense 2019, Rushford will utilise a unique, tailor-made microtonal version of the Medieval portative organ to present a recital of glosses – annotations and commentaries on keyboard works that query and rearrange their form, harmony and meaning through a 21st-century lens.   

A restless innovator and prolific collaborator, Canada’s crys cole creates tactile, microscopic sounds that invite listeners to wander through ambient worlds of fragile beauty and poetic impact.  The music makers’ woven sound worlds glisten and burst, leading the imagination on journeys of hushed wonder. Her soothing yet unexpected experiments will reward Supersense listeners with an intensity amidst soft sonic sensations.

As part of the Supersense MINIMAL experience, audiences are guided underground voyaging through the Arts Centre Melbourne labyrinth to find a place at one of multiple stages to witness and delve into the sonic and visual delight that is MINIMAL. Now in its third year, Supersense 2019 features icons of music, theatre, dance and performance rituals from five continents in an intoxicating exploration of ecstatic performance from 23 – 25 August at Arts Centre Melbourne.

Arts Centre Melbourne presents
Supersense MINIMAL program 
Arts Centre Melbourne
Date:  Saturday 24 August
Time: 2pm – 6pm
Tickets:  $49 All tickets General Admission. Supersense MINIMAL is ticketed as one extended event
conducted across various performance spaces, featuring a line-up of numerous artists. MINIMAL playing times
will be released late July.

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