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FRINGE '04: Libella Fa (Dragonfly Four)

Libella Fa performs at Bats in March

Libella Fa (Dragonfly Four) will perform at the Bats Theatre from 5-7 March 2004. Libella Fa is a new company of NZ dancers and musicians who employ improvisation as a primary mode of performance.

Between them, the performers have many years’ experience in performance art in New Zealand and overseas, and have worked on a number of well known productions such as the BodyCartography Kahurani Project, TouchCompass video works Timeless, Union and The Pacific, and individual performances and contributions for the Wellington Fringe Festival, the IMprovisation Festival in New York, the New Zealand International Film Festival 2003 and the Pacific Arts festival in Noumea in 2000.

For this production, the company is directed by Magpie Music Dance Company. This Amsterdam-based collective calls upon the rich tradition of improvisation in the Netherlands as a model for performance collaborations involving dancers, musicians, text, humour and lighting design.

In this show, the artists of Libella Fa surrender the desire to ‘make something happen’ be it interesting, beautiful or right. Chance and design rub shoulders and decisions are made live in the presence of the audience. Each show is unique, never to be repeated.

‘....the daring and ingenuity of the improvisers was a revelation...’ Jenny Stevenson,
The Dominion Post

Further information
Dance: Alyx Duncan, Yasmine Ganley,
Wilhemeena Gordon, Juliet Shelley
Music: Francesca Mountfort
Lighting design and operation: Ian Leslie
Producers: Juliet Shelley

Performance times:
Bats Theatre, 1 Kent Terrace, Wellington
Friday 5th - Sunday 7th March @ 8pm
Tickets: $15/12/10/5
Bookings: (04) 802 4175

Performers’ biographies

Juliet Shelley:
Dance artist
Juliet Shelley is a dance artist, teacher and performer.

She is based in Wellington. Juliet undertook her professional training in dance at the Laban Centre, London and the Centre for New Dance Development, Amsterdam. She was a member of Jointwork Dance Group in Oxford for two years. Whilst with Jointwork, Juliet performed extensively throughout the UK and worked with Jos Houben of Theatre of Complicite, Katie Duck, Kirstie Simson and Julyen Hamilton among others. During this time, she created solo shows as well as choreographing for Jointwork and other companies.

Juliet undertook Alexander teacher training and moved to New Zealand in 1994.
In New Zealand, Juliet has worked extensively within the professional dance community as an organiser, a teacher, a producer and a performer. She has organised and participated in projects to bring over Nancy Stark Smith and Martin Keogh to New Zealand from the USA, who taught in three major centres in New Zealand, including tertiary institutions in Wellington and Auckland. She performed with Nancy Stark Smith and Martin Keogh prior to each workshop. She received funding from Creative NZ in 2000 to undertake a three week intensive training with Nancy Stark Smith in the USA.

In 1997 Juliet travelled to New York where she performed a solo at the IMprovisation Festival NY and participated in workshops with Kirstie Simson and Karen Nelson. In 2000 Juliet performed a solo piece at Cecil Street Studios, Melbourne as part of an improvisation performance which featured the work of Nancy Stark Smith and State of Flux dance collective. Both trips were self funded.

Juliet has choreographed and performed original solo and group pieces which have been presented at the Watershed Theatre, Auckland, The University of Waikato, Thames High School, Unitec School of Performing & Screen Arts, New Zealand School of Dance and Wellington Performing Arts Centre. She has created work on students in the contemporary dance programme of WPAC and performed in two fringe festivals in Wellington.

She founded Pineapple Productions in September 02 after a self funded trip to San Fransisco where she studied with Katie Duck and Shelley Senter ( ex- Trisha Brown dancer ) at the Dancers Group Summer Festival workshop programmes.
Juliet has presented four evenings of work under Pineapple Productions in September 02, November 02, March 03 and September 03.

Alyx Duncan:

Alyx Duncan is an Auckland based Choreographer and Videographer who has extensively traveled, directed, edited, performed and studied dance and video dance over the past five years.

Highlights include: completing a Bachelor in Performing and Screen Arts at UNITEC in Auckland; performing and touring with Lemi Ponifasio’s Mau Dance theatre Bone Flute ivi ivi within New Zealand and at the Pacific Arts Festival in Noumea in 2000; studying with renowned Japanese choreographer Min Tanaka both in New Zealand and at his Body Weather Farm, Hakushu, Japan; rehearsing and studying with Guinean Dance Master Secaba Camera and his company in Guinea, West Africa; creating in 2003/2002 five successful Video Dance pieces which have been excepted for screening at the New Zealand International Film Festival in 2003.

This last highlight stems from her work over the last two years directing, shooting and editing a large range of dance work, both created for the camera and for live performance. Most recently she has been one of the Directors of Photography and editors for The BodyCartography Kahurani Project; Directed and edited Malia Johnston’s short dance video Small War; co-choreographed, produced and performed Midnight’s Laughter with choreographer Maria Dabrowska; directed three short video dance works for the mixed ability dance company Touch Compass: Timeless, Union and The Picnic; and completed a cinematic version of Midnight’s Laughter called Passage. Of these recent film works Kahurangi, Union, The Picnic, Passage and Small War will be screened as part of HomeGrown 3 in the New Zealand International Film Festival.

Her passion is producing site-specific dance film in which all elements of time of day, lighting, props, sound, and set, reflect and relate to the themes and emotion of the movement. She exposes the movement and supporting images to the camera in order to tell a narrative through metaphor. She then, develops the choreography beyond its live potential through the manipulation and treatment of the moving image.

Wilhemeena Gordon:
Multi-media artist

Multi-media artist Wilhemeena Gordon has been working in the areas of theatre, dance and multi-media installation for over six years. She has performed with MAU Dance Theatre, Coriolis Dance co. and The BodyCartography Project (in NZ), and Dappin Butoh Co. (USA) but has primarily pursued her own artistic vision - multi-media performance art/human installation/sculpture. She is a qualified Skinner Releasing Practitioner and movement education specialist and is interested in body as site, body as home. "The body is at once the most solid, the most elusive, illusive, concrete, metaphysical, ever-present and ever distant thing - a site, an instrument, an environment, a singularity and a multiplicity."

Francesca Mountfort:

Performing artist, musician and composer

Francesca completed a Bachelor of Music degree at Victoria University of Wellington in 2002, is a freelance performing artist, musician and composer.

She produced a multimedia show Chair Water Air with collaborative partner You Jay Lee at bats theatre in the 2003 Fringe festival. Chair Water Air was an experimental instillation of dance, music and silent film.

As this was very successful, Francesca and You Jay produced their next show Nervous Doll Dancing as part of the Dance Your Socks off festival in September 2003. Both performances were made from original compositions for solo cello and electronics performed live by Francesca Mountfort, with silent film, dance and movement by You Jay Lee.

Francesca is involved in many different music and arts events around Wellington, often writing and arranging music collaboratively with other artists.

One of Francesca’s most regular groups is Carousel, who she has been working with steadily over the past three years.

Carousel is an original acoustic ensemble of cello, violin, guitar and mandolin. Francesca collaborates in writing and arranging the music for this group who recently toured Melbourne and played in the Wellington Folk Festival.

Carousel recorded a debut album in 2002 and provided live original music for The Princess and the Pebble; a 2003 fringe festival play performed at Bats theatre.

Magpie Music Dance Company background information

For this production, Libella Fa is directed by Magpie Music Dance Company. This Amsterdam-based collective calls upon the rich tradition of improvisation in the Netherlands as a model for performance collaborations involving dancers, musicians, text, humour and lighting design.

Magpie Music and Dance Company is a collective of dancers, musicians, a lighting designer, visual artist and video artists who use improvisation as the means by which they can express their work. The Amsterdam-based collective calls upon the rich tradition of improvised activity in the Netherlands as a model for creating possibilities in collaborations between the various backgrounds of the dancers and musicians. The practical diversity of the dance artists in Magpie range from modern dance to ballet to new dance while the musical artists' diversity calls from punk, electronic and computer based music, jazz, rock and traditional western contemporary performance practices. Unique to Magpie's real-time creative process is the inclusion of a lighting designer, whereby choices are made through the selection of color and light density to create an ever-evolving performance space thus shifting the physical presence of the whole performance.

Magpie Music Dance Company artists in NZ:
Katie Duck, Michael Schumacher, Mary Oliver, Ellen Knops

Performers’ Biographies

Katie Duck

Artistic Director

Katie Duck is a dancer, choreographer and teacher. From 1973-6 she toured with the company 'Salt Lake City Mime Troupe'. She left the United States in 1976 to live in Amsterdam, Holland and toured throughout Europe as a performer in solo productions, in duet with Carlos Traffic, and in improvisations with the local music artists. In 1979, she moved to Italy where she formed the company GROUPO.

GROUPO toured through out Europe with the productions 'Ruttles', 'The Orange Man', 'Brown eye Green eye' and 'Mind the gap'. In 1986 she accepted a senior lecturer position at Dartington College of Arts teaching for the theatre department and led the choreography course. In 1991 she accepted a position at the AHK dance department in Amsterdam where she teaches composition, improvisation and technique.

Throughout her career, Katie Duck has worked with music and dance artists who share her passion for collaborating music, text and dance in improvised performances. She has performed and collaborated in productions with Tristan Honsinger, Michael Moore, Derek Bailey, Alex Maguire, Michael Vatcher and many others. Besides participating as a performer and composer, she has initiated numerous dance and music improvisation projects in her three bases Holland, Italy and England. In her current base, Amsterdam, her initiatives include an improvisation series (monthly) at the Fijnhout Theater and the Muiderpoort Theater (1994-9), The Melkweg Theater (2000-2001) a (yearly) Improvisation festival at the Frascati Theater (1994-9), Magpie Music Dance Company (from 1995). She is currently touring her solo work, professional workshops and with Magpie Music Dance Company.

Michael Schumacher has danced professionally with Ballet Frankfurt, Twyla Tharp, the Feld Ballet and Pretty Ugly Dance Company. He has danced as a guest artist for Peter Sellers in "Bijbelse Stukken" and "Peony Pavilion" and in productions with Sylvie Guilliem, Dana Caspersen, Anouk van Dijk, Danela Graça, Mark Haim, Mikayo Mori and Paul Selwyn Norton.

As a choreographer, Michael has twice collaborated with dancers of the Ballet Frankfurt creating "Splendor Shed" in 1990 and "Blender Head" in 1994. He also choreographed for G.R.I.P. with Matilde Santing and Anna Affourtit in the Netherlands. With his brother Steven, Michael produced "Unwrapped", as solo dance evening which has been performed in Germany, the Netherlands and the U.S.A.

In addition to performing, Michael conducts workshops in movement analysis and improvisation techniques. Michael began dancing in musical theater productions in his hometown of Lewiston , Idaho. After moving to New York, he received a B.F.A. in Dance from the Juilliard School. He currently resides in Amsterdam.

Mary Oliver was born in La Jolla, California, and studied at San Francisco State University (Bachelor of Music), Mills College (Master of Fine Arts) and the University of California, San Diego where she received her PhD in 1993 for her research in the theory and practice of improvised music. Her work as a soloist encompasses both composed and improvised contemporary music.

She has premiered works by Richard Barrett, John Cage, Chaya Czernowin, Morton Feldman, Brian Ferneyhough, George Lewis and Iannis Xenakis among others and worked alongside improvising musicians such as Ab Baars, FURT, Tristan Honsinger, Joelle Leandre, George Lewis, Phil Minton and Evan Parker.

As soloist and ensemble player she has performed in numerous international festivals including the Darmstadter Ferienkurse fur Neue Musik, October Meeting (Amsterdam), jazz Marathon (Groningen), Ars Electronica (Linz), Ars Musica (Brussels), North American Music Festival, June-in-Buffalo (New York), London Musicians Collective Festival, Angelica Festival (Bologna), SpielArt (Munich, Munchener Biennale and Zurich Tage fur Neue Musik, Perth Festival and Brisbane Biennial.

Ellen Knops started in 1998 in the "Noorderligt" musictheater in Tilburg as light technician for popbands. She moved to Amsterdam in 1992 and started to work with dance and theater. She collaborated to Magpie from its beginning and has contributed to solo projects with Katie Duck, Vincent Cacialono, Martin Sonderkamp and Alex Waterman. These where all improvised performances. She also works with dancers Lily Kiara, Sara Wookey, Constatien Michos, Machy Lindaue, Sayoko Onishi, Gonny Heggen. She is a resident light designer for the Melkweg Theater in Amsterdam and light designer for the Frascati Improvisation Festival.

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