Daniel Ryan is writer/director of The Earth, The Sea & The Moon, a love triangle of a girl, a man and the man’s alter ego.
Daniel, how did you develop the idea?
It was over a lunch with my partner and choreographer Alfie Scalia several years ago that I mentioned to her in passing this idea for a title that I quite liked the ring of. We were rather aimlessly playing with different forms of symbolism when Alfie came up with the image of a guy sitting alone in his apartment watching this girl who he secretly loved, working in the cafe beneath him. Then an opposing man would enter, and relentlessly, like the sea, try to sweep the girl off of her feet.
So we started with this simple idea of a love triangle, and began to pull it apart, looking for the best story. Working from the perspective of the Moon (the man in the apartment), we came up with this interesting character, who was an eccentric and an artist, who had a fear of not being good enough, of being rejected, and over analyzing a situation to the point of not being to act on his desires.
How do you combine narrative/dance?
We really aim for a seamless transition and a blurring of the lines between regular scripted theatre and dance, drawing upon natural everyday human actions, situations and body language that are universal, and allowing that to develop the character, to show their emotions or even to set a scene. Intentions can really come to life through dance as it is such an honest art form that incorporates the entirety of an artist.
Is it important to you that people come away from the performance understanding ‘what it was about’?
Yes and no. More important than understanding, is that the audience is connected to the work in some manner. If an audience leaves the theatre and has been affected in some way by the experience, then the choreographer, writer, director, performers have all done their job.
I believe in having a clearly defined purpose and plan of effect, and most important of all to simply seek to entertain your audience. I don’t believe in leaving an audience stranded however and sometimes that means giving your audience a narrative hook to grab hold of.
Is there an epic dimension to the show?
The type of places and situations that this character manages to drag himself through are quite dramatic, and being that the character has a large imagination, the show heads into some bizarre and outlandish situations that barely fit on the stage.
How much do you rely on feedback from dancers during rehearsal to shape the performance?
It is not necessarily the dancer’s feedback that we find is vital to the performance, as Alfie and I are very clear about the direction we want to head in and explore well before deciding on the piece that we want to produce. But the dancers all bring their natural talent and personal flair and style to the piece which is so vital in bringing the work to life. The dancer’s individual personalities is what makes a performance multi-layered and create a show that is greater than its parts.
What’s the driving philosophy behind Ignite the Dark?
Having studied dance performance, and having a range of experience from musical theatre, through to film clips and live TV, Alfie and I are both avid supporters of Jazz dance. We wished to see the jazz dancer take a more focussed role in performances, not to just be the ensemble or the colour and movement, particularly for those dancers who don’t sing. Ignite the Dark was created for like minded dance artists who just want to dance and we would love to see some Australian jazz companies begin to fill that hole and develop new Australian work.
At Gasworks Theatre, cnr Graham & Pickles sts, Albert Park, August 12 & 13, 2011. ignitethedark.com Bookings: (03) 9699 3253 or gasworks.org.au