image: catapult dance
I think I've found a new favourite thing. One thing Newcastle does very well is artistic innovation. This Is Not Art festival started here in 1998 and is a showcase for alternative festivals around the country, if not the world. I always block out the October long weekend and knock myself out seeing the fabulousness that's on display.
And now we have the Newcastle Writer's Festival, bam, another weekend of awesome to immerse myself in. We do art, drama, music and culture beautifully, but, in my opinion, there's been an area where we've been a little understated.
So THANK YOU Cadi McCarthy for moving to Newcastle and bringing innovation and inspiration with you. I was first introduced to Cadi's work when my heart took up residence in my mouth at the extraordinary choreography she created with local dancers during Stories In My Steps. I'd never experienced much modern dance before, and the intimate setting in 48 Watt made it even more stunning. Now Cadi's brought something special to Newcastle West with Catapult Dance.
Last night's Propel performance was a confronting piece of avant garde collaboration unlike anything I'd ever seen. Award-winning dancer Kristina Chan worked with filmmaker Neil Mansfield to craft a senses-shattering piece about Newcastle's uneasy relationship with coal - extra timely with the divestment issue focussed on us thanks to Newcastle Council's progressive stance on ethical investment. It was loud, it was weird, it was breathtaking.
I've never seen such a fluid body as Kristina's, this was dance as I've never seen it before - and it's bound to stay with me for a very long time. It was extraordinary.
The question and answer session was generous, and revealed much about the artists, and the diverse audience they'd attracted.
We then went out the back for a performance by University of Newcastle Fine Art students. I was already excited as I'd spotted Alex, the vocalist who entranced me a few weeks ago at Visual Music at Newcastle Conservatorium. Accompanied only by a talented lad on an acoustic guitar she delighted the crowd with glorious vocals and a range that must be almost illegal.
Unbelievably, we were then treated to another dance. Inspired by Edie Segwick. This was incredible. It's a collaboration between Cadi, dancer Reagan Ashley Williams, Jessica Coughlin and Zackari Watt. It's a repeat outing, and deserved a replay.
Oh it was wonderful. From glorious projections, to the way Reagan Ashely uses her body, to the music, to the choreography. Sublime.
All this for only $10 - then we had a drink and the chance to chat with others in the audience, and the artists. I feel embarrassed that I paid so little and received so much.
Bring on the next collaboration.
People of Newcastle, we need to support these artists. If you love seeing this city come alive, follow them on social media, attend their performances and spread the word.