Sunday, October 10, 2010


Dancer Emiline Forster took the very unsexy topic of mining and ran with it. Sounds odd, but it worked. Dust was inspired by Glenn Beutel, a man, as Forster said in the program, who was "the last man standing in Acland, Queensland." While she didn't go literally into his story, she used it as a jumping-off point to explore the coal industry's effect on the personal.

Her set was a simple home space - a bookshelf, a pot plant and a mailbox. A screen for video projections created the back wall. Wearing a mask and a white disposable sterile suit, Forster began by scattering coal across the floor. Later we saw her as a feminine character in red and white polka-dotted dress soiled with coal markings. Forster maintained these two personas - the industrial and the domestic - throughout and this influenced how she related to the coal that was strewn across stage. She threw it, tried to eat it and even turned it into a pillow and nestled her head into it.

Forster has a rigourous contemporary dance training and it was evident in Dust. While nothing in of itself was spectacular in a kinaesthetically daring way, there was an integrity and method to it. Sometimes it was as simple as tremors throughout her body as she collected her mail from the post box; other times it was more angular and twisted contortion. The most striking moment had Forster in hard hat and construction gear, miming the wielding of a hammer in slow motion with her mouth dropped open, coal grit stuck in her teeth and gums.

A video back drop intersperced the action. Enactments (mostly by her peers and a cameo by Brian Lucas) included mining corporates and government officials patting each others' backs, miners posing like catwalk models and miners dancing around like they were alone in their bedrooms and nobody was watching. While Forster's choreographic work was serious, even angsty at times, the video created a more poppy, humourous depiction of the material. Forster intertwined it all with fluidity and cohesion.

Addendum, 10 October: Dust deservedly won the Fringe award in the dance category. It was a show that encapsulated what the award is about - a young artist with a serious practice creating a production with a well-realised concept.

Keep your eyes out for Emiline Forster in the future.


By Emiline Forster
Melbourne Fringe Festival
30 September to 2 October 2010

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