Shelter - A New Short Film

By Alex Dellaportas – Artistic Director of SYDC
APRIL 28 2017

“Human connection is the reason most of us live. We desire to create, converse, challenge and live with other human beings at all stages of our lives. Life is an experience in learning to connect with others.”

You know those days where you feel like everything is going wrong?

We all experience these days, though some experience these feelings more than others.

It’s hard to describe these complex feelings to other people – we all experience mental health issues differently and not everyone always understands how we feel.

That’s why it’s so wonderful when someone smiles at you and asks if you’re okay on those days that are difficult. Someone understood. Someone found a way to understand you.

Human connection is the reason most of us live. We desire to create, converse, challenge and live with other human beings at all stages of our lives. Life is an experience in learning to connect with others.

So, for Spark’s second project of the year, we’ve chosen to partner with an organisation that helps to make these connections happen: Headspace. In our rehearsals, we have been busily working with the idea of connection as a form of “shelter” from issues that arise from poor mental health. Our end goal is to create a short film encompassing these ideas in movement.

We have aimed for our film to be something that all our dancers can relate to – from the ones that have experienced more intense forms of these feelings through things like depression or anxiety to the ones that can relate it to less intense everyday life experiences.

As dancers, we often find connection and empathy through physical contact and use our art to empathise with others. I, myself, certainly empathise more with a person’s movement rather than with their language. It allows me to understand their feelings and how I could then go about connecting with them on other levels.

Our film follows this idea of connection through three different life stories. One at a bus shelter, one under the shelter of a bridge and one at a school playground. Each story goes through three stages; the first referencing loneliness and disconnectedness, the second referring to the changes that occur when a first connection is made between two humans and the third encapsulating how we can ask for help and use other people to bring us out of sad/lonely situations and ultimately, to feel free.

To show these sections we have been exploring how contemporary dance can be used to create ideas as well as feelings.

We have been looking at small movements in small spaces to help convey the idea of isolation. We have also been experimenting with a great deal of improvisation to better understand how we can relate to one another through spontaneous movement and also to help expand our knowledge of movement. To help us with choreography, we have been incorporating various ‘scores’ that have allowed us to move differently and think of the overall concept of our sections rather than the immediate feelings attached to them. It has been a huge learning experience for many dancers as they have learnt to separate emotion from movement – something that today is hard to do due to social media and television influences on the idea of ‘contemporary dance’.

Our focus on the idea of ‘connection’ has extended to the areas of costume design as well, our dancers settling on the idea that those in the video who are more closed off to the world at the beginning will be wearing long, covering clothing with the others in the piece wearing a more “summery” outfit. This has helped us get our heads around the abstract way we are aiming to present our ideas.

Connection in our world today is more important than ever. As our lives get busier and more rushed, humans tend to value these relationships or brief connections more, and with a more genuine intent to connect and empathise. 

We believe that the idea that people are willing to listen and that it is so important to reach out and ask for help is something that more people need to understand – especially young people.

Living alone in the dark corners of your mind is something that people don’t have to suffer through forever.

Headspace is a place for this and we hope that this film can open up important conversations about what it really means to ask for help and make a genuine human connection that can change your entire outlook on life.

Keep up with us on social media to watch the film when it is released.

If you are experiencing any of the feelings discussed above, please contact Headspace on 1800 650 890.