Now this is an experience unlike any other that I would have to educate and understand and realise a genre of the performing arts I never knew called performance art and a man called Tony Yap!
I must say I went to Melbourne as advised by a senior to take a breather but with me I never travel without dance or go anywhere without a dance exploration or useful purpose as I really do not approach life with time wasting which is not the same as taking a breather and relaxing but for me it is really rare as my nature is just always on the ‘do’ or ‘Seek’ mode.
So I did my research of what the possibilities were and without a blink contacted a lady called Monica Singh to dance at where she was staying which was at Bundaleer Homestead which I truly got my retreat haven! 10 acres of lush nature, horses, sheep, lavendar flowers, lake, herb and vegetable garden, 2 dogs, firewood to keep warm in an old style antique wood burning stove heater you see in movies which I got to put wood in, the main stone housing estate and 2 other smaller houses which were occupied by the owner and Monica. The main house was the therapy centre, kitchen and tearoom. I stayed in one of the rooms.
It was truly a beautiful experience staying at Bundaleer Homestead owned by Barbara, her son Jan and his wife Saffron that became one of my best friends with the biggest heart that helped me out big time when I moved to Melbourne.
But the best plans in Melbourne were the ones I discovered while I was there by chance called CHUNKY MOVE, Lisa Dethridge, Tony Yap and Tim Crafti after going to the places on my list. I first discovered Chunky Move, which would forever change my life and then I discovered DanceHouse, which led me to Tony Yap and Lisa Dethridge who would later offer me her beautiful home to stay. She is the coolest lecturer and mom you will ever meet. A real life fashionista and performance artist, who teaches Media & Communication at RMIT University. When I met this lady, I didn’t know she was a mom but she is a very warm and caring person and she has 2 beautiful kids, one who is a model in France. So you can imagine how cool she looks!
And so the Light in Winter Festival was rehearsed at Footscray Community Arts Center for ‘The Last Breath’ by Tony Yap Company along with all these other performance artists that really shared and comfortably explored and just did what they did and through just doing what they did, they showed me the world of what they do called performance art. It was a good way of how to educate and share art and I loved the fact that we were all steady in the sense that we are not phased and the ‘attitude’ of just doing is what I liked most. But of course there is discussion and talking not just people moving, there was a lot of exchanging ideas and direction not just blind moving. Tony always asked for our thoughts. Always. And he also gave feedback.
Truth be told, it was hard for me to understand what they did as I was a dancer and I expressed every direction given in Dance and movement. Really. For example, when Tony says ‘die’ I went into a whole dance of my interpretation of death where else what everyone else did was just die like how one would on the ground and they laid there while I was standing with arms open looking up. Then he explained that I really was a dancer and asked one of the participants to demonstrate ‘die’ and then I got it. Just slowly lay on the ground but of course be present, though not said I am thinking all movement always is internal. Then I got it.
Then in another exercise he gave, I stood very still and slowly only moved one arm slowly upwards focusing on a point far away as slow as I possibly could and they were so impressed I stopped ‘dancing’. So I slowly got it more and more of what this art was about.
Tony made us do all sorts of exercises and I felt very free and uninhibited like I always am especially when I’m overseas somehow. I liked the one, which I sit and look into another person’s eyes without blinking for long periods, an exercise I think Marina Abramović did that became famous. But in this one you are not allowed to blink. Tears slowly ran down my face from either the cold or leaving my eyes open for so long.
But the performance side was a very different experience for me. I feel neutral about it, I can’t practice it long term and will leave it to the ones that practice it but I take away learned and new experiences in the best sense because I do have respect for these people which from an audience point of view could be hard to understand but Tony as a person when he performs is truly special. He is unlike any other. Only Tony can do Tony. Brendon O Connor was another amazing soul and guiding.
Out of the room, they are normal people, don’t misunderstand but in the process of creating, they start to do their thing and in a way is therapeutic. This meeting culminated in being a part of the Melaka Arts and Performance Festival twice which I think I was the only dancer but the following year, many more dancers came from Melbourne which I met at Chunky Move and Tony’s class and that would be a great memory. This festival happens every year towards the end of November. For more information on the International Melaka Arts & Performance Festival, visit
‘The Last Breath’
Artistic Director: Tony Yap Company, Melbourne, Australia
This varied festival of dance, poetry, performance art and film happens every year to celebrate the Winter Solstice at Federation Square, Melbourne, Australia.
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