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Wednesday, 09 May 2012 12:15

Carly Dickenson: Not Just A Pretty Face

Brisbane artist Carly Dickenson started her music career as a vocalist back in 2002, but over time became increasingly interested in the production side of things.

This month, she launches her debut solo EP ‘Still Life’. Dickenson says it’s only recently that she’s developed the urge to share her music with other people. “Music for me has always been about friendship, and understanding myself and my own emotions. It’s only been in the last two years that I’ve been interested in performing … before that it was just me on a Saturday night with a glass of red wine doing my stuff, writing ambient soundscapes, and stuff that I’d keep to myself.”

She says at times she’s tried to fight her dreamy, trip hop style and make it more pop. But now she’s reached a point where she’s happy to let it be what it is. “I’ve always been really interested in textures. I started from an ambient music type background, very influenced by Brian Eno … eventually I got very interested in trip hop, people like Portishead and Massive Attack, who use those soundscape-y, noise elements in a very contemporary song framework.”

While Dickenson wrote 90 percent of the music on the EP herself, she brought in fellow Brisbane producers Rafe Sholer and John Teh to help her ‘polish’ a few of the tracks. “I worked with Rafe on ‘Lark’ and ‘Millions’. I wrote all the music, did all the recording and then he came in and did a little bit of electronic arrangement and mixing, so it was really a co-production type thing. John Teh co-produced ‘Underwater’, and he very much worked on the beats and bass elements of that. But yeah, I did all the recording and what not myself. I got ‘Relapse’ mixed by Yanto Browning; he’s a producer but he just did mixing for me. The other two tracks I did all the mixing and everything myself.”

When it comes to performing her music, Dickenson says she thinks of live electronic music in the same way she thinks about live instrumentation. “I’ve replaced some of the parts with a bass player and a string trio. I’ve got a viola player who has a five string modified viola that runs through a whole bunch of live electronic effects … but I feel that my live performance is really about my vocals, so I make sure that I keep that as the focus.”

Dickenson admits that working predominantly as a solo artist can be lonely at times, but being part of Brisbane creative collective Lady Electronica has been a great help. The collective started with a female electronic music showcase put on by Michelle Xen and Heidi Millington in 2010. Dickenson joined after that, along with Donna Hewitt and Kiley Gaffney.

“It’s really nice having that network of people to help. I do backing vocals for Michelle Xen. Heidi Millington and I collaborate. She’s written some lyrics for me and I’m helping her with some production on her new EP. We do collaborate in that sense but we also support each other through different things … it’s really about enabling each other to be the best we can be through whatever means that is, whether it’s going and having a drink and telling each other to keep going, or whether it’s listening and providing feedback on tracks.”

The collective has also benefitted from studio visits from Regurgitator’s Quan Yeomans and Wally de Backer aka Gotye. “Yeah, I’m very fortunate I was able to get Wally to come. I know him through a mutual friend and approached him to be part of Lady Electronica. He came during his tour and gave me a lot of insight into his process, it’s really interesting … the way that he writes music is very individual.”

The collective’s next visit will be from producer Scott Horscroft who’s worked with the likes of The Presets and The Sleepy Jackson, and Dickenson is looking forward to getting his input. Another Lady Electronica showcase is also planned for later in the year.

“What I’d really like to do is make Lady Electronica an annual showcase where we bring in emerging electronic artists and showcase them … Brisbane becoming known for Lady Electronica, or Australia generally known for Lady Electronica and female electronic artists would be an amazing outcome for the project so I hope that we can get close to achieving that.”

Wednesday, 14 March 2012 14:46

Live Review: Tom Ballard

Brisbane Powerhouse March 8

Perhaps it’s down to his familiarity as co-host on Triple J’s breakfast show, but Tom Ballard has an extraordinary knack for putting his audience at ease. Fans in the front row were so relaxed they sat back with their feet up on the stage, as though they were hanging out at a mate’s place rather than attending a comedic performance. Ballard started out by explaining that his show would be all about politics, but soon became distracted by an audience member with a very unusual laugh, which he aptly described as sounding like a “dying rhinoceros”. This diversion had the audience in stitches before he even touched on his written material. He eventually composed himself and carried on.

His hour-long performance seemed to fly by and I would have happily listened to more. Whether he was bemoaning the disarray within the Australian Labor party, explaining why he’s a vegetarian who eats meat, sharing the gruesome details of gay sex gone wrong, or just poking fun at the lady with the weird rhino laugh, Ballard did what he was on stage to do and kept his audience engaged and thoroughly entertained throughout.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012 12:54

Organising Chaos: Jason Byrne

Irish comedian Jason Byrne’s trips down under have become an almost annual event keenly anticipated by his ever-expanding fan base. His stints in Australia slot into an almost regimental schedule, which seems at odds with his chaotic stage persona.

But Byrne admits he’s like a baby and loves routine; he starts every year at home in Ireland with a raft of live gigs, and that’s where he is now. “Basically during this time I’m trying out loads of stuff and doing different things y’know; all sorts of stuff and then I’ll pick my favourite hour and I’ll bring that to Australia, because you can only do an hour in a lot of the festivals. I’ve been doing two hours while I’m here so I’ve got a good lot of stuff to pick from. It’s all new stuff and I just keep sort of tweaking it and poking it.”

Tweaking and poking complete, Byrne spends around three months in Australia with his family in tow for four weeks of that. He appears at the Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane Comedy Festivals as well as other gigs in between. Then it’s back home to Ireland again.

“I’ll be home around the end of May and then June and July I have the Kilkenny Comedy Festival and then some other festivals in Canada and stuff like that, and then I go to Edinburgh in August. My family tend to come there for at least a week, and then the British tour is September, October, November and into December. That’s three gigs a week and then I’m home for the rest of that … that’s my year … having a young family you have to do that … they have to more or less know where you are all the time.”

His high-energy shows may seem like borderline anarchy from where we’re sitting — as he randomly drags audience members on stage to participate in his antics — but he says that while each show is different, there’s a carefully planned structure in place too.

“The first half of the show I’ll do a lot of making up stuff, improv, stuff coming into my head, messing with the audience and the second half would be heavy with all the material I would have written and stuff I’ve tried out … the whole thing is structured. I know totally where I’m going all the time … everything I do every night always happens at the same time in the show, you know what I mean, so in that sense it’s like organised chaos.”

With audience participation such a huge part of his act, you wonder if it’s as nervewracking for him at times, as it is for those cowering in the front row. But Byrne reckons he’s pretty good at knowing what’s going to happen from reading people’s body language.

“I’m just so used to it. I’m so used to seeing people who are frightened, seeing people who are mental, seeing people who are just sort of normal and up for a bit of a laugh and that’s normally who I pick … using them and talking away to them is great for me but I’m not too nervous because if they don’t want to play, I don’t play and I just do all the pre-written stuff. But then again, that’s very rare because I’ve got great fans now and they come to play. The Australians are really good at that … they’re fucking nuts. Most of them sit in the front now in my shows hoping I’ll talk to them.”

But there have been a few times when he’s been caught off guard. “If somebody’s handicapped in any way I don’t know. There was a guy in the audience in Dublin and he was totally blind. I didn’t know and I was trying to get him and his two mates up and they said no, he can’t get up. So the two guys get up, and I looked down, because his eyes didn’t look too bad, and I said, ‘why can’t he get up?’ And they said, ‘he’s blind’. And I said ‘oh my God, are you blind?’ And he said ‘yeah’, and the crowd all went a bit quiet you know, and I said ‘what’s your name?’ and he goes ‘Rob’ and I went ‘your name’s not seriously Rob the fucking blind man is it?!’ The whole crowd started laughing, and then he started laughing … it was brilliant.”

Byrne himself even seems a bit surprised that almost two decades in, he hasn’t upset anybody. Complaints after the show are rare. “One year I did an impression of a rabbit suffocating in a shed. It was a true story about my kids’ pet rabbit that was in the shed, and the shed got hot, and the rabbit died in there. So I did an impression of the rabbit dying in there and some woman from the animal rights movement left a letter for me afterwards saying it was cruelty to animals. But she wasn’t talking about what happened to the rabbit, she was saying that my impression of a rabbit was cruelty to animals. And I thought, I must’ve done a good job.”

But even with his years of experience, his people reading skills and his adoring audiences, Byrne says he’s still nervous before every show. “Every comic is … every comic is going ‘oh Jesus, I hope it’s a good audience,’ do you know what I mean? Actually in this new show I do like an Irish dancing piece but I’m kind of flopped on the ground like a puppet at the start, and then I come up and do Irish dancing, but at that point there I always know if it’s going to be a great gig or not. The crowd normally starts to cheer when the light comes on me, but if they don’t I go ‘oh fuck, I’m going to have to work this room’.”


Wednesday, 18 January 2012 02:20

Ali Campbell

Fit For A King

Many would consider former UB40 frontman Ali Campbell to be reggae royalty. So the place he's doing this interview from seems fitting.

"I'm in the Royal Garden (Hotel)," he says down the phone from London, "next to Kensington Palace actually, where Lady Di used to live, and I think it's where Kate and Will are hanging out at the moment."

UB40 is one of the most successful reggae acts of all time, selling over 70 million records and topping the charts with songs like 'Red Red Wine' and '(I Can't Help) Falling In Love With You'. But in 2008, Campbell quit the band after almost 30 years, citing ongoing management difficulties. When he plays Brisbane this month it will be with 'Ali Campbell's UB40' (aka The Dep Band). UB40 are still going, with Campbell's brother taking over the lead vocals.

"Yes, it's all very confusing. The thing is that UB40, the original band, the remaining members of, they're touring with my brother singing vocals but they're not telling anybody — they really should have 'not the original line-up' on their posters. The promoters have decided that they want to call my gig 'Ali Campbell's UB40', which I don't mind, because at least it lets people know that it is a different UB40 than the old one."

Campbell has released three successful solo albums since leaving UB40. The most recent, 'Great British Songs', is a collection of UK favourites from the likes of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and The Kinks, all given Campbell's signature reggae spin. His Australian tour will feature tracks from that album, as well as the classics and a few surprises.

"I've just been rehearsing with the guys today, and we've three new numbers but they're all numbers that people know, except for one, people won't believe when they hear it — it's a lot of fun because I'm not going to introduce it by name, I want to see if people can guess what it is halfway through."

ALI CAMPBELL'S UB40 PLAY THE BRISBANE RIVERSTAGE THURSDAY JANUARY 26. TO SCORE YOURSELF A DOUBLE PASS TO THE SHOW EMAIL This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011 13:24


Theatre In Preview

This emotional ensemble play by the Aboriginal Centre for the Performing Arts will combine dance, music and theatre to tell the stories of six people who were part of the stolen generation.

Doug Maybir has been a student at the Centre for the last two years and will play one of the six lead characters in the piece. “It’s about the kids who have gone through an institution, growing up in an orphanage, and what’s happened in their life after they’ve come out of the orphanage and how they’re coping. Some are coping and some aren’t”, he says.

The play is directed by Leah Purcell and was written by Jane Harrison using actual stories of people who were part of the stolen generation. Maybir will play the part of Jimmy, and says he feels very privileged to have the opportunity to tell this man’s story.

“There are two parts to Jimmy. There’s a young Jimmy who starts off the play and he’s going through the institution of the children’s home. Young Jimmy is a vibrant young male, but as he gets older he starts to go within his shell.” Maybir, who himself is in his late forties, will play the older Jimmy. “When he becomes my age, around 50 years old, he’s a broken man who hasn’t met his mother yet. He has a chance to go and meet his mother and he goes out on this journey to meet her but he actually doesn’t get to, and without giving the story away, the impact on his life is quite big. It puts him further into the doldrums.”

As part of the preparation for the play, the students have had the chance to meet with a number of people who were part of the stolen generation, through the Link Up Program. “Over the last month we’ve seen maybe five or six people who have been through the stolen generation. They came in and told their story to us. It’s been fantastic to sit down and hear what these people had to go through, which was pretty harrowing as a young child to just be picked up and taken away from your family. I can’t fathom how bad that must have felt for them at the time.”

Maybir says hearing these people’s stories has given him and his fellow students a huge amount of inspiration.
“The whole school has lifted, we’ve all jumped up a notch or two to perform this play … I’m actually the only non-aboriginal guy who goes to the school. I’m an indigenous Fijian … but the play has brought up a lot of things for some of the pupils in the school. Maybe they weren’t directly involved but their grandparents were involved in the stolen generation or their aunties. So while we’ve been doing this play there’s been a lot of soul searching, a lot of things being found out and it’s affected a lot of the kids. But we’ve all come together really strong and everyone’s doing remarkably well. The rehearsals have been quite challenging but yeah, very enjoyable.”

While the subject matter being dealt with is quite serious and upsetting, Maybir says there is also an element of humour to the play.
“People are going to laugh, but at the end they’re probably going to cry. It is serious but there is comic relief … it will keep them on the edge of their seat.”

He’s hopeful that they play will help improve peoples understanding of this part of Australian history. “Everyone’s heard of the stolen generation but few have probably looked into it personally. The stories of the main characters do give you that personal touch of their journey. It’ll give people an understanding of what happened to the aboriginal race, which will be fantastic because there’s been a lack of education on aboriginal matters over the last two hundred years and it’s given the country no empathy or understanding. This play tells the true story of what happened to these people and the audience will get an understanding of what the aboriginal race have been through and how now they are starting to grow.”


Wednesday, 26 October 2011 12:41

Papa Vs Pretty

Joining Forces

Despite lead singer Thomas Rawle’s surprise, Papa vs Pretty’s debut album, ‘United In Isolation’, has been nominated for the ARIA Rock Album of the Year award.

And despite what you may have seen on TV, he’s very happy about it. â€œI didn’t think we’d get nominated … we were really happy and we were surprised and it hadn’t really hit any of us … we were all a bit straight-faced and we had all these TV interview things and were just like, ‘oh yeah, it’s ok’. And so, I don’t have a TV, but there was some show they were like (sarcastically) ‘this band looks really happy to get nominated’ and it was us … that was pretty funny.”

Since the album was released in May the band have spent plenty of time on the road, including a support slot for Kaiser Chiefs. â€œIt was pretty cool. They were massive venues and we had good crowds so it was fun. We toured with The Vines recently too so that was a highlight of the year. That was an amazing tour.”

Rawle says he really enjoys the life of a touring musician. â€œI think we’re a better live band than on record anyway … we’ve gotten much better, we’re a lot tighter now. Because we’re only a three-piece it’s sort of difficult to make a really big sound with that many people, but seen as we’ve been playing for a while now it’s quite easy. You kind of realise how to use space and things like that.”

Their next tour will be a double header with Melbourne band The Vasco Era, kicking off this weekend. â€œTheir music is great. They’re kind of like a grungy kind of band. They’ve been around for ages.”

Album number two for Papa vs Pretty is already on Rawle’s mind. â€œYeah I’m already thinking about it. I’m already writing songs for it and we’ve been playing some new songs that I’m excited about. I don’t know when that’s going to fit in time wise and everything but yeah we’ve definitely been thinking about it.”

And what about his red-carpet outfit for the ARIA Awards? â€œI haven’t really given it much thought – I’ll probably just wear what I usually wear, except maybe just a little bit tidier.”


Wednesday, 19 October 2011 15:45

Chase And Status

No More Idols

Their second album, ‘No More Idols’, debuted #2 in the UK album charts and went gold in its first week. They’ve won numerous awards and can list Snoop Dogg, Jay-Z, Rihanna and Pharrell Williams among their fans.

But rather than taking time out to pat themselves on the back, UK electronic duo Chase And Status - aka Saul Milton and Will Kennard - are staying humble and working harder than ever. Saul even takes this interview while in a car on his way home to London, after playing what he describes as an “electric” gig in Liverpool.
“Yeah, we're on our second UK tour this year… it started last week. It's been a massive success. Some have sold out. It's just really exciting”

The tour comes off the back of an exhilarating, but exhausting summer for the pair. “We did between 30 and 40 festivals. It's been a massive summer for us - huge, huge shows, big crowds, big headline slots. Yeah, everything is moving forward nicely.”
But despite all the performances, Saul says the studio is where he's happiest.

“It's being creative and making music, that's why I'm talking to you now and why I get to travel the world to perform … long, long after we're too old to be on the road we'll still be in the studio making beats. That's where the love will always lie.”

Milton says collaborations with Snoop Dogg, Jay-Z and Rihanna really changed their public perception, opening them up to a new market. The offers have been flooding in, but Saul says they're just concentrating on their own stuff for the moment.

“We've been getting calls from a lot of peoples’ people. It all began when we (co-produced) ‘Snoop Dogg Millionaire’... that really opened the gates and then when we did the stuff with Rihanna and Jay-Z, the whole world just came knocking.
“It's very flattering and we've had to turn down a lot of work, and yeah it's been a great profile boost for us, it's a real learning curve, we were in the studio with them for weeks and weeks and among other things - they've got a great working ethos and the way they do stuff is incredible -I’ve actually learnt a lot from those sessions - yeah it's all been super productive and positive for us.”

Not everyone is happy for them, however, with some begrudgers accusing them of selling out and becoming too mainstream. Milton couldn't care less.
“We just make music that we like you know.  And that we love …  if you don't want to see someone become a success, you want them to always play little clubs and not really progress in their career then you're not really much of a fan of the artist.”

Despite the success, the praise and the accolades, Milton says he still doesn't feel like they've made it. “We always set ourselves new goals and you know, don't rest on your laurels, don't get caught up in the praise or in the negative, and we've pretty much got the same attitude as we had 10, 11 years ago which is just write cool music that we like and there's plenty more stuff for us to do.”

Having been friends with Will since they were teenager,s and now working together closely, Milton says they're a bit like an old married couple. “We're like family members now … we know each other very well. If we want to annoy each other we know how to do that, we know how to get in each other’s face. But fundamentally, we've got on fantastically well since we've become friends and this sort of thing wouldn't work in such a close partnership if it wasn't so.”

Chase And Status have played a number of DJ sets in Australia over the last few years. Now they're looking forward to coming back to play Future Music Festival in March - so what can we expect?
“A full live band, a couple of guests happening, and carnage, just absolute madness. We like to sort of bring a punk vibe, like modern day Sex Pistols if you will to the arena. Like, really get that kind of like punk vibe with electronic music.“

Chase And Status will be joined by Swedish House Mafia, Fatboy Slim and many others at Future Music Festival, at Doomben Racecourse, Saturday March 3.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011 15:26

Danny T

Delicious Waistline

Fresh off a Pacific Island retreat to Vanuatu, and with an upcoming Silent Disco to prepare for, Danny T is charged for the summer ahead.

The last time you spoke to Scene was earlier in the year just after you received #1 on the Aria Club Chart for ‘Whine Ya Waistline’. Has that achievement opened up new opportunities for you? It’s been a whirlwind year after the success of ‘...Waistline’. I was so lucky to have so much support from my fellow Aussie DJs and producers - really getting behind the record. Since then, I’ve been signed to Ajax’s record label and agency - Sweat It Out - which has certainly opened up doors for me regularly playing gigs in Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney.

Any more collabs planned with Oh Snap?
I just recently remixed Oh Snap’s new single, ‘Who Let The Douchebags In’, which received a great response and we are currently in the studio working on the follow up to ‘...Waistline’.

Can you tell us a bit about it?  When will it be out?
Oh Snap and I are finalising the production on it now - it’s called ‘Delicious’. It’s a booty-shaking tribute to all things derriere. We’ve revisited what made the original so successful, making it a bit more clubby but still with that raw party vibe. The lyrics are funny as hell and Oh Snap has really brought his A-game on this one. We will look at releasing over the summer ready for festival season.

Having reached #1 with the last single, are you feeling a lot of pressure with this one?
Yeah for sure. No one wants to be that one-hit wonder guy. I’m not overly concerned about topping the success of ‘...Waistline’ with any of my new productions - as long as people get down to it. I never set out to top any charts to begin with, I feel my music appeals more to the underground market - but creating a tune that has that crossover element between the commercial and underground scenes certainly can help expose your track to a wider audience.

What else have you been up to since you last chatted to Scene?
I’ve been gigging a lot nationally for In The Mix, Onelove, Late Night Addiction and also a tour for my latest EP through Sweat It Out, ‘The Mean Baby’ EP. I did a couple of stints in Asia, playing Bali, Bangkok and Phuket twice this year. It’s been great to build a following of fans around the country who’re really into my signature sound, and not having to smash out clichéd mainroom sets. The people at my shows really are there to hear me play and have an educated and open mind. A part from the gigs, I’ve just been working on remixes and original productions that will be filtering out into the airwaves throughout the rest of the year.

You’re headlining the Silent Disco event at Electric Playground later this month, but you won’t be silent? You’ll be full volume in the main room, right?
The Silent Disco Battle Arena will be held in the Electric Playground courtyard showcasing ten up and coming local DJs. If headphones aren’t your thing then the main room will be open as usual. We’ve selected the most eclectic group of young DJs to play the Silent Disco allowing for the most unusual dancefloor responses.

What does the summer season have in store for you?
Festivals, beer and BBQs. I’m excited for Stereosonic this year, and Summafieldayze has always been a favourite for me. My remix schedule is chockers with stacks of fresh productions on the way. I’m also working on plenty of original material including a big record with Roxy Cottontail who had a massive club tune with Afrojack in 09 - ‘Let’s Make Nasty’. Really excited she was available to lend her vocal stylings.

The next time Scene chats to you, you hope to have achieved what?
Hopefully another top 10 record. Let’s not leave it so long between chats this time scene!

Danny T headlines Electric Playground’s Silent Disco on Friday October 28.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011 12:18

Often I Find That I Am Naked

Theatre In Preview

This rom-com theatre production in the vein of ‘Sex And The City’ and ‘Bridget Jones’s Diary’ is returning to Brisbane for its final three shows, after starting its life here two years ago.
“It’s a beautiful full circle because the Judith Wright Centre took a chance on us and gave us a season back in 2009. The season sold out. We did so well,” explains the show’s star Jo Thomas.

The play’s success in Brisbane led to seasons in Adelaide, Sydney and the Gold Coast, followed by a Queensland and then an extensive national tour. “It’s been amazing. It doesn’t seem to matter whether it’s Alice Springs or a tiny mining town in WA, the audience always seems to react the same way. I’ve just had countless women who come out afterwards and go, ‘oh that’s just the story of my life.’”

‘Often I Find That I Am Naked’ tells the story of Jezebel, a flame-haired single gal who’s determined to find true love. “She’s very successful in her life but she just can’t seem to find the right man. Things go astray a lot for Jezebel and she ends up in very awkward situations and she ends up with some very awkward men. She tries the basic things like speed dating and online dating, then she tries things like raffling herself off in a spelling bee competition. She has a little interlude in a disabled toilet - things that, you know, maybe aren’t the best way to find true love."

The men in Jezebel’s life, all 15 of them, are played by actor Sam Clark. Live music is also incorporated into the show with James Dobinson providing accompaniment on the piano, keyboard and ukulele and there’ll be plenty of songs the audience will recognize.
“I like to say it’s the mix tape from Jezebel’s life. So there is some ‘80s music, there’s some ‘70s music like Captain & Tenille, there’s George Michael and there’s some more modern stuff like Pink and The Killers. There’s a real range of pop songs in there.”

Those who saw the show in Brisbane the first time around will notice a few changes to the music and some other tweaks here and there. “We’ve changed a lot of things since the original at the Judith Wright Centre. One of the changes was that our beautiful musician back then was Tom Raymond and he decided to go off and be a lawyer so we had to find ourselves a new musician. We were very lucky to get James, but automatically there was something different because James has a very different personality as a performer so we’ve changed the music quite a bit … and because we were lucky to get so much work, we were able to upgrade our set and our costumes.”

The nature of the show tends to attract a mainly female audience, but Thomas says a few brave blokes have come along too.
“I’d say probably 80% of the audience is female. Many of the venues market it as a great girls night out but I’m always really pleased when we see men in the audience. I go up and have a chat at the end and they’re never offended, they often laugh. There are scenes in the piece that everyone, whether male or female, seems to be able to go, ‘yeah, I’ve been on a date like that.’”

After chatting with numerous women (and men) who’ve attended the show, Thomas reckons it is getting harder and harder to find “the one”. “I really do think it is. We have all these new technologies and that’s wonderful but I don’t know if they’re actually helping us talk to each other; people are a bit confused I think. It used to be very clear what the path was for a man and a woman. Heaven forbid, I’m not saying we go back to ‘you must get married at 22, and you must have your three children’, and that sort of thing but at least everyone knew what was expected and the social norms. I just think it’s more complex now. We’re all still trying to figure out how it all works.”

So does Jezebel figure it all out in the end? Does she live happily ever after? Thomas isn’t giving anything away.
“Maybe. It is a bit of a rom-com but it’s also ambiguous as well so it’s good for people to make up their own minds.”


Wednesday, 12 October 2011 12:48

King Arthur And The Tales Of Camelot

Ballet In Preview

Queensland Ballet’s upcoming show will bring to life the medieval legend of King Arthur. It’s an original production for Brisbane, choreographed by the company’s Artistic Director Francois Klaus.
“He’s picking different sections that he’s trying to highlight; the relationship or the love triangle between Arthur, Guinevere and Lancelot. There are also other triangles between Arthur and his half sister Morgane with whom he has a son, Mordred - that’s the character I’ll be playing,” explains dancer Blair Wood.

Wood, who’s originally from New Zealand, has been with Queensland Ballet since 2008. He’ll be sharing the part of Mordred, and playing a knight of the round table on alternating nights.
“We have two different casts and we take turns with shows… it’s to give people a break. It’s hard to perform and it also gives younger dancers like myself opportunities to do other roles. The other person who’s playing Mordred is a soloist in the company, so I’m quite lucky to have a go at that.”

Mordred is a complex character and one of the biggest roles so far in Wood’s dancing career.
“Arthur was brought up in the pagan religion, he had me (Mordred) through his half-sister so now in the court he has a Christian religion. He then disowns his son Mordred because of the way I came into the world so it’s about him resenting me and I just want my father to accept me. I’m the only son he has and will be the heir to the throne. He accepts me into the court but he does not knight me and therefore I get upset and plot and plan with my mother to dethrone him and upset his life as much as possible.”

Mordred is the villain in the story, but Wood’s says he’s not really such a bad guy.
“Imagine if your dad brought you up and then was like, ‘I don’t like what you’ve done, no, you’re not my son’. He’s just hurting, really. It would be hard to do everything right to try and make your father accept you, and for him to turn around and go, ‘you know what, you’re not my son, I don’t know you’. So yeah, that does of course make him want to attack or find Arthur’s weakness and use it against him. He’s a little bit of a bad guy but he has many reasons to be horrible.”

With such a strong character to portray, the acting is as much a part of rehearsals as the dancing.
“Yeah they do go parallel. When we start working, we focus on the dance and we work with each other. I’m working with Keian Langdon who’s playing Arthur to figure out what bits I can look at him, and what bits I can snarl. They go hand in hand. We get all the dancing down pat and then try to layer it like a cake. I’m quite lucky because I have a natural acting talent and I’ve done those roles before where I have a character to portray.”

He says when he’s performing on stage, the acting is what he focuses on.
“The dancing comes naturally. When you’ve been doing it so long you have what we call muscle memory. I concentrate more on what I’m doing with my face, or if I’m pointing my feet when I need to be, or what I should be looking at. Today we just learnt a bit of the last battle where Arthur and Mordred actually have a fight … and yeah it’s finding bits where I can look frustrated or look at him like ‘I’m going to kill you!’ - that sort of thing.”

Wood has noticed a younger audience attending ballet performances recently and acknowledges it may be thanks to the success of the movie ‘Black Swan’. “There are a lot more younger people coming, I’m 23, so around my age up to 30. You know when you say ballet, you think old ladies dressing up in their pearls, but there are quite a few young people coming and enjoying it - especially a ballet like this one which has a great storyline. It’s different from classical ballet where you know the story already; this is Francois’s take on this story. I like these ones, because the audience can really relate to the characters.”


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