The Rivoli Show is a music and dance spectacle created by the Dance Makers Collective. The Greg Poppleton Trio (Greg Poppleton 1920s vocals, Grahame Conlon guitar and banjo, Cazzbo Johns sousaphone) introduces the hour show. The Rivoli Show was a sold-out hit of the 2020 Sydney Festival.
It played at the beautifully restored Art Deco Malachi Gilmore Hall in Oberon on Saturday night 9 April and a Sunday matinee on 10 April. Here are some photos…
THE RIVOLI SHOW
A celebration of social life before social media, when to meet was to talk, laugh and move to music together.
The Rivoli is an immersive dance hall meets dance theatre performance, The Rivoli is a tribute to the iconic dance halls across Australia that were a celebration of social life before social media.
A hit at Sydney Festival 2020, this joyous production will celebrate the launch of the iconic Malachi Gilmore Hall in Oberon… after four decades of waiting for dancers to return to the dance floor.
The Rivoli features some of Australia’s best dancers and a stellar live band, The Greg Poppleton Trio. It is Dance Makers Collective’s most ambitious work yet, The Rivoli, an ode to a bygone dance era.
“a thoroughly entertaining and surprising work.”
“…energetic, lively and moving.”
DANCE MAKERS COLLECTIVE
DMC emerged in 2012 when a group of ten driven independent dance makers in Sydney gathered to take charge by working together to create new work in an environment where local opportunities to do so were slim. Over a few pizzas and some wine, each of us pitched ideas for short works to each other, and conceived of a program called Big Dance in Small Chunks – ten artists, ten works, ten minutes each. This informal get-together was where DMC was born.
After that meeting, we met with our now long-time partner and friend FORM Dance Projects in Parramatta and asked them to present our work in their 2013 program, which they took on with great enthusiasm. We asked our now long-time friends Legs On The Wall, Bangarra and Sydney Dance Company if we could use their rehearsal spaces to develop the work, successfully undertook a TRIP Residency at Tasdance, ran a crowdfunding campaign and approached a small arts charity Ars Musica Australis for some financial support. We applied for funding to (then) Arts NSW and secured enough funding to start developing the work, which came as a welcome shock to us as a brand new collective of artists, many of us in our first year of practice. We applied in two successive rounds to the Australia Council, unsuccessful both times, but we pushed on anyway and presented the program of works by rehearsing part-time to develop it, and underpaying ourselves.
When Big Dance in Small Chunks premiered in 2013 at Riverside Theatres, it was triumphant. The season was the most highly attended dance show in FORM’s program that year and was awarded Most Significant Dance Event of 2013 in Dance Australia Magazine’s annual critics’ awards. Jill Sykes wrote of the show in the Sydney Morning Herald at the time:
“The first showing by the Dance Makers Collective has imagination, thoughtfulness, individuality, performing ability and commitment. Even a sense of humour. It is a promising start by a group of independent artists in NSW, and worth catching in what will hopefully be a beginning rather than a one-off.”
And it was just the beginning.
Following the success of Big Dance in Small Chunks, DMC secured funding and mentorship support through the Australia Council’s (now defunct) JUMP Mentorship program. This enabled us to launch our second project WEBISODES, a series of short dance films created by each of the ten members, our first foray into dance on film which has been viewed by more than 10,000 people since being published online in 2014. In that same year, we supported three of the ten works presented in Big Dance in Small Chunks to be pushed further into longer works, curated in a Triple Bill again presented by FORM Dance Projects at Riverside Theatres, this time in 2015.
In these works, we started working more collaboratively together than we had before. Up until this point, we supported each other by working for one another as performers, providing feedback to each other, but essentially each of us were individual makers with ideas for works we wanted to make, to steer alone, but with some help from our peers. Our working methodology began to evolve from this relatively common way of making to a much richer, collaborative making process, which shifted even further in our next show.
DADS, which premiered in 2016, was a turning point for us and our most ambitious project to date. In DADS, DMC co-choreographed one full-length show, where each member shared equal responsibility for the show’s development. The show was also our first foray into community-engaged practice, where we took up residence at Dance Integrated Australia in the Northern Rivers region of NSW and worked with a local men’s group the Dustyesky Russian Men’s Choir, interviewing them about their dance experiences and recording their rehearsal in the pub in Mullumbimby, which formed the soundtrack for our opening sequence. We collaborated with our fathers, asking them for their advice about the show, they built our set, gave us dance moves, curated the show’s music and provided interview content that threaded together the narrative arc of the work; oh, and they danced with us in the show too!
DADS was shortlisted for the Australian Dance Award for Outstanding Achievement in Independent Dance in 2017.
After the success of DADS, and proven successes before that with our other three projects, DMC decided to take the next step and transition to a more independent company. Until this point, we relied heavily on our partners because DMC was an unincorporated entity, a group of individual artists with a name to work under, but no formal legal structure. We were, and still are, committed to a democratic model of working where members share not only in the creative process in the studio and on stage, but in the strategic direction of the company. To maintain autonomy over this as a group of artists, DMC formed a partnership of its now 9 members; this enabled us to apply for our own funding and manage our own projects without relying on other incorporated bodies.
As a partnership, DMC secured two successive rounds of strategic funding through Create NSW, a project grant through Create NSW, and a project and career development grant through the Australia Council. The strategic funding rounds we secured, Making Spaces and Emerging Organisations, enabled us to form new partnerships with local councils and Western Sydney based arts companies and local government arts centres including PYT Fairfield, Urban Theatre Projects, Blacktown Arts and Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre.
With this strategic funding DMC piloted new programs that launched in 2019, these were:
1. Mobilise (dancer training intensive);
2. Future Makers (youth dance company);
3. Thrive (schools incursions) and;
4. Dance On (dance classes for seniors)
At the same time, DMC seeded a range of new short works with our Making Spaces funding, which allowed us to work in community centres across Western Sydney by giving each member in DMC residency time of 4 weeks across an 18 month period from 2018-2019. Several of these seeded works have had presentation outcomes, these include:
1. Marnie and Melanie Palomares’ work The Space Between, a site-specific duet performed at the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra as part of the BOLD Festival and at Articulate Project Space in Leichhardt as part of de Quincey co’s PLATFORM 2019;
2. Carl Sciberras’ work with collaborator’s Todd Fuller (visual/projection artist) and Mitchell Mollison (composer) Figure Out, a live drawing, live sound, live dance performance installation for children performed at the WOW Festival at Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre;
3. Rosslyn Wythes’ Converge/\Diverge, a series of collaborative projects with ceramicist Holly Macdonald which have been presented in Brussels;
4. And Rosslyn Wythes’ Eco 1000, a site-specific solo about the Bathurst 1000 performed as part of ArtState 2018
Making Spaces also seeded a new duet between DMC members Katina Olsen (Wakka Wakka and Kombumerri woman) and Anya McKee called Women’s Business, which will undergo further and final development in 2020 for presentation in 2021.
Whilst piloting these programs, and developing and presenting these short works, DMC also developed The Rivoli, which was an even more ambitious community-engaged project than DADS which had a sold-out premiere season at Sydney Festival in January 2020. With funding from Create NSW, Cumberland Council, City of Parramatta, the Australia Council and Sydney Festival, this large-scale site-specific work brought together members of the local community, DMC’s new youth company Future Makers, a live swing band and 8 DMC performers at Granville Town Hall.
Given the breadth and scope of our program and projects, DMC became an incorporated association in 2019 and established a volunteer board consisting of members of the company and skilled professionals working outside DMC.
Once establishing ourselves as a company, DMC successfully secured for the first time Annual Program Funding through Create NSW. This funding enables us to continue our programs in 2020 as resident company at PYT Fairfield. The General Manager and Engagement Officer, DMC members Carl Sciberras and Melanie Palomares, work side-by-side with the remaining collective members to design and create opportunities for artists and the public to engage in rich dance experiences. This flat organisational structure enables us to lead together and adapt the program based on the emergence of ideas from within the company, and in response to opportunities that arise externally that align with our values, aims and objectives.
DMC is an exceptionally nimble creative enterprise that provides opportunities for artists in Sydney to create work together, and for a range of other demographic groups to engage in dance in various ways. We are a leader in our area of practice and exist as a beacon for others not only in dance, but in the arts more broadly, seeking to change the status-quo and embrace new ways of operating.
ABOUT THE MALACHI
The recently restored Art Deco Malachi Gilmore Memorial Hall occupies a prominent position in the main street of Oberon. Its asymmetrical façade is a striking Inter-war Art Deco addition to the streetscape of Oberon Street and the town generally.
On its opening in 1937, The Sydney Morning Herald wrote,
“The Malachi Gilmore Memorial Hall recently completed at Oberon has for its architectural basis the famous Pharos pylon of Alexandria. This historical pylon had a height of 460 feet. It was built by Sostratus of Cynidus. The architects of the Oberon Hall conceived the idea of making it a minor replica of the Pharos pylon. This design was accepted by the parish priest (Dr. A.J. Gummers) and the representatives of the late Malachi Gilmore, who was a native of Ireland. This was a startlingly bold design, but now that the hall has been completed it is a really beautiful building without being in the least incongruous. It is one of the architectural landmarks not merely of the town, but also of the whole district between the Blue Mountains and Lithgow. Tourists admire the bold outlines of the new building.
Many, ignorant of the antiquity of the design (the Pharos tower was supposed to have been erected 283BC, and was favourably commented on by Pliny and Strabo, ancient historians), regard it as ultra modern in conception. An old hall adjoining emphasises the bold outlines of the new building. A striking feature of the front of the new building is the use of glass bricks supplied by the Australian Glass Company, Sydney. The remainder of the building is stoutly built in brick and concrete. The hall measures 110 feet by 40 feet. It is used mainly for Roman Catholic social functions. . . Mr H. A. Taylor, Sydney, was the builder of the hall.”
The façade is rendered concrete with a complex massing of curving and rectangular shapes presenting a stepped skyline to the street. The emphasis is generally horizontal except for a central portion with a vertical pier rising to a height of nearly 14 metres. The metal-framed windows create a grid-like pattern and are stepped in size and proportion to match the stepped façade. Glass bricks form a large curved wall. The building’s name is rendered in stylized lettering on the façade.
The interior of the façade section of the building is largely intact and contains a foyer with fireplace, gallery, cloak rooms, bio-box and rewinding rooms at the front. In the main hall the walls are decorated with plasterwork, with some original Morene Art stucco work. The flooring of the foyer and main hall is West Australian jarrah hardwood. Under the main hall is another floor with slab concrete flooring supporting “supper rooms” and opening at ground level onto the large parking area at the rear of the property. The foyer is approximately 65 square metres (700 sq ft) and the hall has 279 square metres (3000 sq ft) of dancing space. Curiously, the hall was built in reverse of the architect’s plans.
Some major, although not structural changes were made during the 1980s, disconnecting the façade from the main hall section of the building. A stud wall now blocks the view that was formerly available from an upstairs viewing area onto the main hall (this vewing area has been converted in part to an office and in part left as open space). Similarly a stud wall blocks the view that was formerly available from the mezzanine level projection room into the main hall. At the time of renovation two new bathrooms were built in the façade section. A section of the stage in the main hall section was also cut out to make room for an elevator to convey goods from the rear parking area.
Thorne, Tod and Cork point out that one of the building’s eccentricities is that “the auditorium does not match the façade in any way. The former is a rather plain country hall with a stage, proscenium, stalls and small gallery” (1996, 302). According to Scott Robinson of the NSW Art Deco Society, “The Malachi Gilmore Hall is a most unusual combination of a diminiative (sic) Modern “picture palace” front (with its vertical fin and roof) and Modern Movement rectiliniarity of the stepped massing of the building behind the front” (quoted in the Heritage Inventory nomination form submitted by the Friends of the Malachi Gilmore Hall, 2001). Ross Thorne’s 1983 “Theatres/Cinemas in NSW” states that the exterior of the hall is “unique in a kind of west-coast USA 1930s design style with a vague Frank Lloyd Wright influence produced by the feeling of horizontality (in parts). It also has a very strong vertical element at the front, and glass bricks in the manner of Depression Modern”. Thorne, Tod and Cork’s “Movie Theatre Heritage Register” states, “there is nothing quite like it elsewhere in New South Wales. Even by today’s standards, the building is unusual and futuristic” (1996, 302).
The architectural significance of the hall has been widely recognised and is reflected in the large number of heritage listings: Oberon Shire Council LEP, RAIA Register of Twentieth Century Buildings, the Register of the National Trust of Australia (NSW), the Register of the Art Deco Society, and Ross Thorne’s Movie Theatre Heritage Register.
Book now for Greg Poppleton’s newest show, SORCERY & SWING with Bruce Glen, The Gentleman Magician.
Saturday 21 May 2022, in the ornate 1920s Cellos of the Castlereagh Boutique Hotel, 169 Castlereagh St, Sydney, 6:30-10pm.
Canapes, three course dinner, beverage package, close-up magic and illusions, 1920s quartet and dance floor!
Dine NSW vouchers welcome. Book now. The last show sold out.
Dress code: guys in ties, girls in pearls.