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Soiree Sforza

Ken Unsworth in collaboration with Australian Dance Artists presents SOIReE SFORZA, at the Unsworth Studio, Alexandria, Sydney.

ART: the production or expression of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance (Macquarie Dictionary). I observe, even in this world today, there are some people that are ‘cursed’ with a need to make Art. They have been always ‘cursed’, and that ‘curse’ drives them on and on. It seems, relentlessly. For them that ‘curse’ has been a blessing – and they pursue it at all expense, and they would say, no expense too great.

SOIReE SFORZA is an evening of sculpture and dance, presented by Ken Unsworth in collaboration with Australian Dance Artists. Mr Unsworth, born in 1931, has practised his ‘curse’ as an Artist: Installation; Performance; Draughtsman; Sculptor and Painter and still is. The performers of the Australian Dance Artists: Susan Barling, Anca Frankenhaeuser, Patrick Harding-Irmer, Ross Philip and Choreographic collaborator, Norman Hall – collectively, perhaps, represent a two hundred and fifty year history of the joy of the ‘curse’ of dancing.

In a converted studio art space, a ‘little theatre’ with a raised stage, complete with a small revolve, has been created. Even original church pew seats, have been lovingly converted to a gently increased height, one small row after another (three, in total) to organise an invited and small audience to share in the musings and artistic endeavours of these ‘cursed’.

Nine offerings, solos, duets, trios and quartets have been thoughtfully curated, complete with, sometimes complex sculptural supports, sometimes just elaborate costume, but always with exquisite physical expression of movement, springing deeply, organically from the souls and spirits of all these artists. The intimacy of this ‘magical’ and lovingly prepared space and work gives us, the privileged audience, a gift of an unforgettable experience.

A drawn black curtain winches back and it begins with Mr Unsworth, in black, with his long glossy, white hair combed wizard-like from his scalp, seated at a Grand piano, ‘playing’ Franz Listz’s: Concerto Study No39. He sits back and the face of the keyboard collapses and a ‘spirit’ (Anca Frankenhauser) spills forth from the body of the instrument, trailing a red velvet dress-train that seems to unwind from an infinite source. In a pool of light, seated on the floor, Ms Frankenhauser, to the accompaniment to J.H. Kapsberger’s Toccata Arpeggiata, takes us into a filigree of arm, hand and finger entrancement, a spell – her inner life, her charisma, charm and especially wit, glows from within in, and later, in whatever she does: INNER LIFE, sets the tone to a powerful and mesmerizing performance. Mr Philips engages us with a transfixing ‘dance’ with two white box ‘sculptural’ oblongs whilst turning inside the spiral of the revolve accompanied by Philip Glass’ Echorus: SHAPE SHIFTER. Mr Harding-Irmer hangs upside down in a beautiful red sculptural square in a black circle, suspended in the air, defying gravity and creating physical patterns of a breathtaking and daring beauty supported by some music by Gustav Mahler, Symphony No3 in D Minor, O Mensch: RED SQUARE. Ms Barling surrounded by three revolving, full length mirrors, to the music of Tony Gould, Tickling the Moon, bedazzles us with her corporal, and its spinning reflections: ANGLES OF VISION.

Duets of real wit, Bianca and Cecilia – two sisters joined and trapped with a rope of hair Rapunzel-like; two men, one suspended from the roof by his ankles dancing head to head with a brother, exist beside danced quartets of sophisticated and elegant courtly dances and of astute social comment and subtle mind games. It finishes, irreverently, but pointedly, with a descending skeleton puppet, to the lid of the returned grand piano, moving, dancing in the smoke and mists of ‘time’, covering a musical interlude using an arc from Mozart’s Andante, Piano Sonata in B Major, to Tom Waites singing Down in the Hole.

Two years ago this company of ‘cursed’ artists presented a similar evening of generous artistry on Cockatoo Island: AS I CROSSED THE BRIDGE OF DREAMS, and the privilege of witnessing these possessed older artists bewitched by their lifetime need to express their ‘curse’, once again, this time in such an intimacy of space, was something beautiful, appealing and of more than ordinary significance. Modest but blessed with the humanity of the tireless pursuit to create art for the benefit and advantage of others, not to be easily forgotten.

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when alteration finds,
or bends with the remover to remove:
O no; it is an ever-fixed mark,
That looks on tempests, and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering Bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height is taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and
Within his bending sickle’s compass come;
Love alters not with his brief and hours and
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me prov’d,
I never writ, nor no man ever lov’d.

 – Shakespeare, Sonnet CXVI.

Thank God for these tireless lovers of ART. SOIReE SFORZA, a blessing from these artists at an expense too marvellous to be thought through by us, too closely.


P.S.Costumes by Emma Kingsbury, and Lighting by Eddi GoodFellow.