This March, Campbelltown Arts Centre presents The Assembly - bastard of a place, crafted by celebrated choreographer Raghav Handa. This multifaceted work, a collaboration with dance artists Victor Zarallo and Josh Freedman, sound artist James Brown, lighting designer Fausto Brusamolino, designer Isabel Hudson, and dramaturg Vicki Van Hout, promises a thought-provoking journey into the intersection of familial narratives and cultural legacy.
Rather than aiming for grandiosity, The Assembly appears to seek engagement with the audience through a nuanced exploration of the past and future, seamlessly interwoven in an abstract realm. Handa draws from his grandfather's regimental legacy, employing it as a lens to vividly express Queer culture and examine the fragility of human existence. The performance will no doubt delicately navigate the incompatible meeting of memory and circumstance, steering clear of sensationalism to instead present a layered reflection on societal questions.
Known for using dance as a medium to delve into profound societal inquiries, Handa describes his artistic vision for The Assembly as a vehicle to explore themes of power play, the expression of masculinity, time, and the concepts of right and wrong action. It's an obvious move away from theatrical flamboyance, focusing on the exploration of significant human experiences.
The Assembly promises more than a mere performance; it is likely a testament to Handa's dedication to both innovation and the preservation of traditional practices. Rooted in the artist's memory, the production appears as a surrealist landscape filled with dynamic movement. Handa's choreographic style, known to deconstruct classical Indian Katak folk dance and indigenous contemporary dance techniques, aims to establish a distinct Indian-Australian vernacular within the country's performance landscape.
In this particular work, audiences are taken on a journey challenging traditional notions of masculinity. Handa articulates that the work delves into how men express themselves collectively, probing the intricate layers that define masculinity in our society.
The Assembly offers a unique utilisation of space, creating worlds rich with symbolism, imagery, and sound. As Handa told this blog, "I work with a strong company of collaborators to create surreal spaces, drawing inspiration from my own memory, psychology, and vision of the future. The performance space becomes a canvas where we craft something extraordinary out of nothing."
Central to Handa's commitment is the responsibility to cultural preservation and the continuation of traditional knowledge. Acknowledging the influence of choreographers like Vicki Van Hout, Marilyn Miller, Sue Healey, Martin del Amo, and Rakini Davey, Handa expresses the hope that younger artists will build upon the foundation he lays.
Mouna Zaylah, Acting Director of Campbelltown Arts Centre, said, "We are proud to present THE ASSEMBLY, a new and exciting work by Raghav Handa who is one of Australia’s leading choreographers and performers."
7-9 March 2024
Performance Time: 7:30 PM
For ticket information and updates, visit Campbelltown Arts Centre's official website: http://c-a-c.com.au/the-assembly/.
(Images: Marian Abboud)