Dionysus Molecule

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… raw emotional utterance, painful, grief-stricken, aching, amused.
… focus, interplay, improvised but increasingly layered text, and very poignant, sometimes savage… exquisite stillness and at times breathtaking physical risk-taking

Dionysus Molecule is a powerful new work that sees Tony Yap and Brendan O’Connor, dancers, joined by acclaimed Sydney-based visual artist Khaled Sabsabi, creative collaborator Robert Meldrum,  and composer Tim Humphrey.

Dionysus Molecule parallels ancient Greek mythology and theatre traditions with the mediumship in Asian trance practices.  In ‘The Birth of Tragedy’ (1872), the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche contrasted Dionysus with the god Apollo as a symbol of the fundamental, unrestrained aesthetic principle of force, music, and intoxication versus the principle of sight, form, and beauty represented by Apollo.

Both the Greek and Asian perspectives are sympathetic to the idea that spiritual transformation is intrinsic to theatre practices; this is fundamental to the work’s poetic narrative. This inquiry serves as a foreground to Tony and Brendan questioning issues of masculinity, the deep bond between them that developed through the theme of their fathers’ deaths, and their creative practice together as dancers with a 20-year age difference.

Performers/dancers: Brendan O’Connor, Tony Yap
Visual media artist: Khaled Sabsabi
Creative collaborator/performer: Rob Meldrum
Musician/sound artist: Tim Humphrey
Producer: Kirsty Ellem, Kath Papas Productions

Dionysus Molecule is an enactive, immersive, ritual work. While aesthetically informed by Tony Yap’s distinctive mixture of Malay shamanism and Butoh, its rituals also hail from contemporary performance. Yap’s early experience with theatre maker Renato Cuocolo locates his aesthetic firmly in the camp of those who want performance to be striking or powerful, rather than representational or conceptual. The figure of Artaud oversees this Dionysian realm. […] The collaborators of Dionysus Molecule are all skilled in their own right. The world they have created transforms the everyday into a theatre of the night, a sensorium of time passing. The challenge (and risk) of the work lies in its intertwining of distinct traditions and styles. The mark of its success could be measured through the impact of its impulses and intensities. Would Dionysus have been pleased? I like to think so. – Philippa Rothfield, Real Time 129

See the full review here


Wed 26 to Sunday 30 August 2015, Sacred Heart Oratory, Abbotsford Convent, 1-16 St Heliers Street, Abbotsford

Video documentation by Cobie Orger
Production images by Windu Kuntoro
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