The edge of the body has disappeared; the environment has seeped inside and come to live amongst body parts; the nervous system feels its way far beyond the skin.
Explicit Contents is an evocative new work by Sydney-based choreographer Rhiannon Newton that premiered at Sydney Festival 2021. In a sensuous exploration of our inextricable human connection with the earth, the work follows two bodies as they are made and remade by the forces and materials of their earthly surroundings. Burning and cooling, hungering and satiating, incorporating and expelling, the body emerges as a hyper-real site of more-than-human action and exchange.
Featuring Sydney-based dancers Ivey Wawn and David Huggins and composition by Peter Lenaerts (Brussels/Sydney), Explicit Contents is a visceral journey through the body’s enmeshment with the environment. Reimagining bodies as watery vessels, techno-chemical conglomerates and thermo-dynamic machines, the work questions how we can sense ourselves as a part of—and constituted by—the ecologies of the world.
Choreographer: Rhiannon Newton
Dancers: David Huggins and Ivey Wawn
Sound Design: Peter Lenaerts
Lighting Design: Karen Norris
Costume Design: Agnes Choi
Producer: Katy Green Loughrey
Rhiannon Newton is an Australian dancer and choreographer who grew up on Dunghutti Land on the Mid-North Coast of NSW. Her work focuses on the interconnectedness of the body and the more-than-human world. Working from Gadigal Land (Sydney), Rhiannon makes contributions to community and culture through choreography, performance, collaboration, teaching, research and curation. Her recent projects include The Gift of a Warning (Carriageworks, New Breed 2021); Explicit Contents (INDance 2022, Sydney Festival 2021); Long Sentences (Baltic Circle Festival 2019; Performance Space 2020); We Make Each Other Up (Dancehouse 2018) and Bodied Assemblies (Dance Massive 2017). Rhiannon has developed her practice through residencies and commissions throughout Australia, South-East Asia, Europe and North America. Rhiannon also works as a performer and collaborator with artists such as Mette Edvardsen, Martin del Amo, Lee Serle, Ivey Wawn, Amrita Hepi, Rosalind Crisp, Paea Leach, Angela Goh and Brooke Stamp.
David Huggins began dancing while completing his psychology degree in Aotearoa New Zealand. After graduating with a Bachelor of Dance from the VCA, University of Melbourne, he worked with Russell Dumas’ Dance Exchange in Melbourne, performing nationally and internationally with the company for nine years. David has also worked for other artists including Douglas Wright, Xavier Le Roy, Rhiannon Newton and Martin Del Amo. Aside from his work as a dancer, he has begun to explore his own choreographic interests through various residencies, and recently presented his first full- length work, Once More, with Feeling in New Zealand.
Ivey Wawn (b. 1990) lives on Gadigal land (inner-sydney) where she works as a dancer and makes dance-based work for different contexts. Her practice centres on embodiment and its interplay with the historic specificities of capitalist social relations. Her most recent work In Perpetuity has been iterated as part of Next Wave 2020 (online), Liveworks 2021 (online and at Carriageworks, Sydney NSW), and CEMENTA 22 (Kandos, NSW). A subsidiary work to In Perpetuity called Expiration April 10 was presented in Monumental (working title) at the Art Gallery of NSW in 2022. Ivey has ongoing relationships as a dancer for a number of Australian choreographers including Rhiannon Newton, Atlanta Eke, Angela Goh and Brooke Stamp. She also works regularly with artists from a visual art context, notably an ongoing series of collaborations with Rochelle Haley since 2014.
Peter Lenaerts is a Belgian sound artist active in the fields of performance, contemporary dance, & film. Lenaerts is fascinated by empty spaces and invisible or acousmatic sound. Sound that doesn’t scream for attention but sneaks into the listener’s ear unnoticed. Sound without ego, pure sound, with a focus on the medium rather than the maker. He was resident sound artist at the 2018 Hong Kong Arts Festival where he created music for Vortex by choreographer Wayson Poon. Other recent work includes Non-Place (2019) and MicroSleepDub (2015-2016). Apart from his own work, he has created soundtracks and composed music for choreographers and performance artists like Mette Ingvartsen, Andros Zinsbrowne, Salva Sanchis, Daniel Linehan, Eszter Salamon, ao. He strongly believes that in a culture dominated by visuals, nothing is as powerful, intense, and rewarding as simply listening.
Karen Norris has extensive experience as a lighting designer for Theatre, Dance and Music. She has worked extensively throughout Australia and Europe and was formerly based in London and Nice. Karen’s recent designs include Terrain for Bangarra Dance Theatre; Songs Not To Dance To and Champions by Martin del Amo; On View by Sue Healey, CELLA and HIPS by Narelle Benjamin, Winyanboga Yurringa by Andrea James for Moogahlin Theatre; KOTAHI Atamira for The New Zealand Dance Company; Barbara and the Camp Dogs for Belvoir Street Theatre; The Appleton Ladies Potatoe Race & The Last Five Years by Ensemble Theatre for Sydney Festival 2019; The Weekend by Liza-Mare Syron for Sydney Festival 2019 and New Zealand Festival of the Arts 2019, RED by Liz Lea Dance, Rainbows End for Darlinghurst Theatre, plenty serious TALK TALK by Vicky van Hout, Blak Drop Effect for Bankstown Arts Centre, Silence by Karul Projects / BlakDance and Sunshine Super Girl by Andrea James for Sydney Festival 2021.
Agnes Choi is a multi-disciplinary creative based in Sydney, Australia. Since graduating from the UTS Fashion & Textiles Honours degree in 2018, Choi has worked across several mediums including fashion design, acting, styling and costume design. With her dance and drama background, Choi is always finding ways to merge her worlds through narrative and artistic expression such as costume design for Explicit Contents for C-A-C as part of Sydney Festival 2021, and often roots her work in cultural, environmental and social discourses. Choi has recently been featured in i-D Asia (2018), Vogue Australia (2019, 2020) and RUSSH Magazine (2020) for her work in fostering positive changes for the future of the Australian fashion and cultural landscape.
'Explicit Contents' was originally commissioned and produced with the support of Campbelltown Arts Centre through Campbelltown City Council. The presentation of Explicit Contents has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body. The presentation of Explicit Contents is also supported by the NSW Government through Create NSW.