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the sugar mountain festival 2013: forces x antony hamilton

Sugar Mountain in 2012
Image courtesy of Sugar Mountain

‘Melbourne is the epicentre of interesting dance and music’ observed choreographer Antony Hamilton during our interview. It seems fitting, then, that Melbourne is the home of the Sugar Mountain Music and Art Festival, which will take place at the Forum Theatre on January 19. I recently had a chat with Hamilton to discuss his collaboration with the synth-outfit Forces, Forces x Antony Hamilton, for this year’s festival.

With the tagline of ‘Melbourne’s boutique music and arts festival’, Sugar Mountain promises to offer an exciting and compelling dance and music-based program. Hamilton’s contribution will be no different. His performance falls under the arts section of the program curated by artist and festival Creative Director Pete Keen. Calling the visual arts program A Light, Bend and Stretch, Keen has brought together a number of Australian and international acts to create new works exploring the theme of light. Given the dance-based nature of Hamilton’s practice he may seem a curious addition to the visual arts program.

‘He [Keen] was taken by the visual style of our works’ Hamilton explains, commenting about how the collaboration with Forces came together. Admitting to being unfamiliar with the Melbourne-based synth group prior to their current collaboration, the choreographer welcomed the opportunity to embark on this as yet untitled experimental piece. The ‘curated’ collaboration Forces x Antony Hamilton reflects the progressive premise of Sugar Mountain, a festival that does not distinguish between creative disciplines.


Antony Hamilton with Chunky Move dancers
Image courtesy of Sugar Mountain

Having garnered international acclaim for his cutting-edge contemporary choreography, Hamilton is a major coup for Sugar Mountain. I was struck by his humility and genuine passion for his craft as we spoke. Trained in classical ballet before developing a love for contemporary dance, Hamilton draws on a wide variety of dance styles in his choreography. He has previously created choreographic works for a number of companies, including the Lyon Opera Ballet (France), Australian Dance Theatre, Chunky Move, and the Victorian College of the Arts, to name a few. Although his choreography defies categorisation, Hamilton’s interest in people underscores his diverse works. When asked why dance appeals to him, he enthusiastically responded that ‘I am drawn to the human state… just people; every facet of them’.

Forces x Antony Hamilton intends to ‘break down the paradigm of drama with accompanying music’ resulting in a compelling mesh of the two art forms. Light and colour are thrown into the mix, with the visceral blend of music and dance giving a ‘synesthetic quality’ to the piece.  This is in contrast with many of his previous works in which he tended to ‘pare back and work without music’. In this instance Hamilton is ‘working to a musical score [provided by Forces], rather than working from scratch.’ I for one cannot wait to see, hear and experience the results of this collaboration and other performers and displays at the Sugar Mountain festival.

The Sugar Mountain Music and Art Festival will take place at the Forum Theatre, Melbourne on January 19. See the Sugar Mountain website for information about tickets and the program.

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