Saying Goodbye

By Alex Dellaportas – Artistic Director of SYDC
MARCH 4 2017

“We reference the concept of ‘letting go’ of memories or pondering them to the point of madness many times throughout the piece.”

Choreographer Alex Dellaportas explains SYDC’s latest piece and talks about the stories behind the movements:

As humans, we are required to say goodbye to things every single day of our lives.

Don’t worry – this isn’t going to be a super sappy post about sad things and hard goodbyes.

That’s already been done a million times.

I just wanted to share with you something that I’ve always found hard to do – something that I think everyone struggles with.

And that is of course saying goodbye.

But I’m not just talking about those goodbyes that stem from rocky relationships or airport goodbyes; I’m talking about the times we’ve had to wave our friends down the road as they drive off after dinner, or those times we call out our goodbyes as a loved one leaves the house for work. The simple goodbyes. As well as the hard goodbyes.

As we age, we respond to these goodbyes differently, and my interest lies in this idea.

I hate saying goodbye and I hate letting go. So, naturally I made a dance about it.

Our VDF team has been busy creating a work that explores all of these ideas from our innate ability to be externally sad and present in our sadness when we are toddlers, to the most final and often the hardest of goodbyes; death.

In our piece, we try to represent many forms of saying goodbye and of having the ability to let go and detach yourself from something you love. We look at toddlers and how their response to a goodbye is much more physical and honest than that of an adult. When taken away from something they love, toddlers will cry and let you know why they are crying. They show their sad response to detachment externally. And then a few minutes later they are able to move on and forget about it. It’s not often you will see a toddler sitting in silence contemplating life’s problems.

Teenagers are often affected by their extreme emotions and as they are going through a time of growth and self-awareness, will usually go through the stages of being awkward at goodbyes – of not knowing how to detach themselves from the thing they have to say goodbye to; it is a time where humans learn how to deal with these emotions, and can produce feelings of confusion, anger or of being unsure of why we are having to say goodbye in the first place.

We then look at adults and how they tend to internalise their sadness at the realisation of a goodbye, whether this be towards something as trivial as waving your friends off after a dinner or something deeper such as some type of relationship that has to end. Adults often find themselves coming back to the event of the goodbye multiple times; unable to fully accept it and move on. We reference the concept of ‘letting go’ of memories or pondering them to the point of madness many times throughout the piece.

We’ve also looked at saying goodbye to old versions of oneself which has been very interesting to talk about amongst our cast.

But we haven’t limited our exploration to just people.

There are many things that we are forced to say goodbye to over the course of our lives such as events, groups, or happy memories. Teenagers often miss the idea of primary school and long to go back and teenagers who have just finished high school may find it hard to detach and find a new daily routine. How often have you yourself thought back to an overseas trip and longed to go back, or, as dancers and performers will understand, how often have you felt depleted or flat after a season of performances or end of a concert or dancing year? It’s often difficult to detach from these things because they become a part of us and a part of our memories and growth as a human being. In our piece, we focus on the idea that holding onto these memories won’t make them come back and will just distract you from what the world is presenting to you in the present moment.

We play with the idea of the group from which a single person in then detached, as if that person is saying goodbye to a collective group of memories or a person or a group. In another section, a series of fast duos represent the way that relationships in our lives will always be something of which we must be prepared to let go of and leave.

Something really interesting actually occurred during the creative process of this piece.

Before our last rehearsal, I found myself sitting on the couch looking at rehearsal footage, writing notes about what we needed to rehearse, slowly slipping into a panic about one particular section that just wasn’t fitting the intention. It was slow and repetitive and I couldn’t put any real meaning to it in relation to the rest of the piece.

But I was so attached to the idea of the choreography, having made it outside the week before with my sister, because it had just worked when my sister I did it. Looking back at the video, I realised that it really just wasn’t working in a group setting.

So I got progressively more and more stressed about it as I tried to find a solution by keeping the choreography and playing with different structures and timings. But I still didn’t understand what meaning the choreography was bringing to the piece. There was none.

I was so in love with the idea that I couldn’t think of anything else – and had I have kept that part, the work would have suffered.

So something important that I have always known but am only just starting to put into practice is to not fall in love with an idea.

Being in love with ideas is dangerous and doesn’t let you grow.

This is sort of along the same lines as don’t be afraid of change. (Which so many people are!)

So in the end I actually took that small phrase from the choreography and worked a whole new section around it with just my sister and I on stage dancing it – another dancer walking through us, breaking us apart to represent myself and letting go of that choreographic idea and the concept of not falling in love with your ideas, being open to change and being flexible.

I really love where this work is going, and I am so proud of our passionate bunch of artists. This creative process has been incredibly rewarding and I feel that I am learning a lot about myself through this new piece. As I love with all choreography, it has allowed me to explore the questions in my own head in a physical setting with real people.

I only hope that our dancers and the audience we are going to perform it to, take as much away from the piece as I have.

Spark Youth Dance Company Inc. will be premiering their new work ‘Goodbye’ at the Victorian Dance Festival Gala Showcase on Saturday 18th March at the Melbourne Town Hall.