In an unconventional approach to dance, Matthew Day will be performing False Idols today and tomorrow at the Lismore Quad – the piece that has no tangible beginning or end, invites audiences to step into the space and see what happens.
The world premiere two performances are free events that play out in a non-linear format, much like an art installation and go for three hours. False Idols requires no obligation from the audience other than engaging with the work at any point – they can freely enter and exit the space at will.
Dancer Matthew Day says he loves making longer format works. ‘It gives the audience a way to engage with dance. It’s a little bit more like going to an exhibition.’
Mr Day was living in Amsterdam in the centre of the city which he says was usually a very, very busy place when the pandemic hit. ‘Within the space of two weeks, it was completely deserted. False Idols is basically about this moment where everything that was familiar kind of disappeared.’
Mr Day says his performance will often draw people that wouldn’t have normally come across it outside a gallery space. ’It’s so good for me to trust the work because of new audiences coming in and out during the show. I’m used to a real art crowd and with them I can kind of understand how the works are being read, there’s a certain literacy – also my work is kind of obscured a bit. It’s a bit peripheral. So having a keen eye kind on me requires me to take it a little bit further. There’s a sense “just let the work be the work and don’t feel like you have to hold people’s hands” or be entertaining or “on”.’
Undoing doing the traditions in dance
Mr Day says he has a background in traditional dance and was trained in ballet and competitive ballroom dancing.’ In performance dance, you’re trained from an early age to be interesting. So there’s a sense of what interesting is. I’m trying to undo that in the work and through the work for the viewer to look and say “this is actually interesting”.’
False Idols is choreographed, but again not in the traditional sense of steps set in time to music. Mr Day the work is choreographed intrinsically – it’s part of who he is. ‘I’ve written these pathways and patterns into my body. But the premise of the work and the choreography of the work is that it’s not fixed. Clarity is just the way that you write movement. I’ve written this piece in that the movement, it’s written in my body, but in terms of this space, and how I do it in time, that gets written as I go along. I figure out what makes sense in the moment.’
False Idols feel like a process and Matthew says that exactly what it is. ‘Nothing that I do is really actually purposeful. I build these things, but they’re not really real. It’s the building process. That’s the theme. And it’s like solving a problem, like watching someone solve the problem – watching someone be busy with a task is very interesting.’
False Idols will be performed today and tomorrow at the Lismore Quad. Today from 3pm to 6pm and tomorrow from 11am to 2pm.
There are no tickets, the event is free and the audience can step into and out of the space any time during the performance.