Queensland dance-theatre company, The Farm, is presenting an interactive, solo contemporary dance work at Brisbane Festival by Michael Smith. Its name is Cowboy, and if you feel that it sounds as though the performance wanders far from the norm and far from a performance you simply watch, you would be right. This is the work’s description, “From surfing trains to taming horses to wandering the desert, this work unpacks your ability to have a complete, genuine, and meaningful experience as an imagined self.” The work, which is being presented by Brisbane Festival & Metro Arts and is set in the imagined sweeping landscape of a classic old western, also features a far from the norm original score composed by Ben Ely of Regurgitator and is enlivened with a dash of life-affirming humour.
Cowboy’s inventive personality is in keeping with that of The Farm itself. The Farm is a collective of artists bound by similar interests and those explore the outer reaches of dance. Its aim is to make contemporary dance accessible to all, “to demystify” it, they say. The five “Farmers” are Gavin Webber and Grayson Millwood, who met at a dance company in Adelaide on 1993; Michael Smith, who met Grayson after the Australian Performing Arts Market in Brisbane, when the two found themselves in a taxi together on the way to Black Bear Lodge for a sneaky disco; Kate Harman, a ballet dancer with dreams of contemporary dance in her head; and a lighting designer called Chloe Ogilvie. “We are designers, choreographers, performers, all of us independent in our own practice but deeply integrated because we all want to contribute to human connection in a completely bonkers and confusing modern world,” they say.
The performance was birthed when Smith was offered a five-minute showing at one of The Angry Mime events in Brisbane. At the time he had no idea what he was going to do but while bushwalking he decided that he should attempt to become a cowboy. The quirkiness of trying to be something that he is not appealed to him. After absorbing as many Westerns as possible and teaming up with Brisbane choreographer, Liesel Zink, to develop the idea, the original five-minute version was revealed to the world. He then teamed up with Webber and Ely and the longer version began the process of evolution. Since then it has had several showings in Australia as well as one in Berlin and another as an outdoor work during AGITART Figueres Festival MOU in Spain.
Cowboy is being presented at the New Benner Theatre in Metro Arts Friday 4 September and Saturday 5 September at 7:30pm, as well as a matinée performance on Sunday 6 September at 2pm.
Tickets cost just $15 and are available here.
- CANDIDE MCDONALD