About Tony Yap + Collaborators’ Residency

Animalising — becoming animal / intense / imperceptible

‘Animality is an exercise’ — Michael Foucault, Le Courage de la Vérité

‘A becoming-animal always involves a pack, a band, a population, a peopling, in short, a multiplicity. … what interests us are modes of expansion, propagation, occupation, contagion, peopling. I am legion.’ — Deleuze & Gauttari, A Thousand Plateaus

In Animalising, dancers and performance artists, Tony Yap and Jack Riley; musician, Reuben Lewis and a supreme Javanese bull-trance master, Agus Riyanto, will draw inspiration from their unique disciplines and aesthetics and delve into the concepts of ‘becoming-animal’, ‘becoming intense,’ and ‘becoming imperceptible’. In the philosophical ideas from Deleuze and Gauttari’s book, A Thousand Plateaus, the artists reflect on their personal and intersectional narratives and question the definition of queerness. This exploration will involve the themes of sexlessness, nakedness, and an exploration of the blurred boundaries between what is human and what is animal. Additionally, Reuben will contribute to the process by creating and composing a third element, further developing the sonic-choreographic aspects from his compositions in relation to trance induction.

This distinct practice emerges from the South-East Asian tradition of trance dance. It is a choreography where sinews, nerves, muscles and neurons trigger the dance in their own unique patterns. This trance dance theatre is hard to define; naming it would imply various attempts and efforts. Its practice combines elements of both the ancient and contemporary, blending tradition with experimental elements. How can we perform this dance while remaining faithful to its paradoxes and contradictions?

This dance theatre is highly personal, representing a genre with a rich heritage and contemporary possibilities. Immersed in deep trance, it embodies shamanistic and Dionysian qualities, evoking the intensity of an animal, while intelligently relinquishing control. It is an improved improvisation rooted in contradiction.

Basically, ‘becoming-animal’ is a movement in which a subject no longer occupies a realm of stability but rather is folded into a nomadic mode of existence in which one is always an anomaly, that is, inaccessible to any form of definition. The animalising-trance dance offers an escape from lethargy and melancholia by becoming animalistic, intense, and imperceptible. It may seem digressive, fragmented, and disarrayed, yet it holds perfect invention and confession.

– Tony Yap + Collaborators

Animalising; Becoming Animal / Intense / Imperceptible is showing at Midsumma Festival at Abbotsford Convent (Industrial School).
8–10 February 2024, $35 Full Price, $30 Concession, 50 minutes duration.
Buy tickets here

Artist Bios

Agus Riyanto – Supreme shaman
In 2006 Agus Riyanto revived the traditional art of Bull-trance (Bantengan) that had been extinct in the city of Batu, East Java. He is founding director of the supreme Bantengan Trance Carnival, Bantengan Nuswantara in collaboration with the Arts Island Festival 2008–2014. He achieved Awards for bull-trances and bull whips in Batu since 1985. Mas Agus is a shaman and a proficient painter. Agus is highly respected in East Java for his deep understanding and work in trance performances and have lately incorporate it in contemporary experimentations with great success working with Agung Gunawan and Tony Yap in Melaka and Melbourne in 8 Men and Shadow’s Light with performers from varied international backgrounds. Agus recently performed in Buffalo Field Festival, Bangkok and in Shadow’s Light as part of the Mapping Melbourne program in December, 2018.

Reuben Lewis – Musician, composer and trumpeter
Reuben Lewis is a musician of white settler heritage with an active practice in cross-genre, cross cultural and cross-disciplinary collaboration. He has worked with movement artists since 2015 on large scale and site specific works, most frequently with influential trance movement practitioner Tony Yap for premieres at festivals such as AsiaTOPA in Australia and MAP Melaka in Malaysia. Other projects include Memoir for Rivers and The Dictator with Lilian Steiner, premiered at Dance Massive, ARIA nominated Closed Beginnings with poet Tariro Mavondo and APRA Art Music Award winning Silent Towns, a 24-hour telematic work by the Phonetic Orchestra. Reuben is the Artistic Director of I Hold the Lion’s Paw, an ensemble founded in 2016 with a goal to make genre defying work with a distinctly Australian musical identity. Recent projects include Lost in Place a durational jazz–butoh crossover performance devised in collaboration with Yumi Umiumare and Taka Takiguchi (滝口貴), and Imagination Exploration – a touring program for children focusing non idiomatic group improvisation devised in collaboration with Musica Viva Australia in Schools. Reuben was appointed Australian Art Orchestra’s Pathfinder Associate Artist (2019/2020), AMC Artistic Associate for Jazzahead! (2020–2021) and was a 2018 and 2019 Freedman Jazz Fellowship nominee.

Jack Riley – Dancer
Jack is a multi-genre performer, actor and digital artist based in Melbourne. Jack is a graduate from the Victorian College of the Arts (BFA) Dance. After graduating he was commissioned as VCA and Melbourne University’s ambassador for dance presenting his work Duplex at the Academy de bel Arti Florence for the University’s First Commissions marketing campaign. Jack has performed for several Australian dance companies, including Chunky Move under Antony Hamilton Token Armies, Melbourne international festival (2019), and opening ceremony at Potato Head Bali, Indonesia for Futura Pointman Warrior sculpture unveiling (2022). Australian Opera King Roger (2018), Tasdance (2017) and Force Majeure You animal, you, Arts House (2018), Melbourne International Festival. Alongside performing, Jack has created and produced three of his own self- funded full-length dance works. Alone 2018 was toured and presented at Chunky Move, Canberra Theatre Centre and State Theatre centre Perth. Jack is now pursuing acting roles starring in multiple short films, Each Other (2020), presented at Melbourne International Film Festival, Brisbane International Film Festival, and Slamdance Film Festival (2021). Incarnation directed by Bernard Winter (2023) was nominated for best short film and best actor at the St Kilda film festival and nominated for AACTA Awards for best short film.

Taka Takiguchi 滝口貴 – Producer
Taka Takiguchi (滝口貴) is an independent practicing artist and producer of Japanese heritage based in Naarm (Melbourne) with over 10 years of experience in the arts sector. His art-making process is to question social norms and their structures from intersectional perspectives and to create provocative works through the mediums of poetry, installation, and various movement based techniques: Suzuki Method, Butoh, and shamanic/trance dance practices. His unique background as a social worker and an inclusive art practitioner has greatly informed his artistic aesthetics and practice. He founded his production company, ImPermanence Productions in 2015. He was one of the recipients of the Victorian Independent Producers Initiative (2020–2021), an initiative funded by Creative Victoria. He has achieved producing at and performing in 25 community-led performing arts festivals in 4 countries (Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, and India) and programmed several hundred artists from all around the world since 2015. (www.taka-takiguchi.com)

Tony Yap – Dancer/Creative Director
Born in Malaysia, Tony Yap is an accomplished dancer, director, choreographer and visual artist. Tony was one of the principle performers with IRAA Theatre (1989–1996). He has made a commitment to the exploration and creation of an individual dance theatre language that is informed by psycho-physical research, Asian shamanistic trance dance, Butoh and psycho-vocal experimentations. Tony has received numerous nominations and awards including for The Decay of the Angel which won him a Green Room Award for Male Dancer; and Rasa Sayang was nominated for The Australian Dance Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Independent Dance. He has been a leading figure in inter-cultural discourse and received Asialink residential grants to work in Indonesia in 2005, and 2008 and a Dance Fellowship from the Australia Council for the Arts. Tony is the founding Creative Director of Melaka Arts and Performance Festival – MAP Fest (www.melakafestival.com).

He has contributed significantly to the development of contemporary dance & performance practice, particularly to bringing a non-Western perspective to the palette of work being created. His practice is grounded in: Asian philosophies, sensibilities and forms; inter-cultural and multi disciplinary approaches; ongoing relationships and collaborations that deepen over time; inclusiveness, diversity and individuality; process, evolution and the emergent.

Tony was one of the principle performers with IRAA Theatre (1989–1996) and has worked extensively in Australia and overseas. Tony has collaborated with many companies and individuals in Australia, Indonesia, Austria, Italy, France, Malaysia, Greece, The Netherlands, Denmark, China, South Korea and Japan. Tony’s contemporary trance praxis has the focus of his research in Asian shamanistic trance and its reverence to contemporary dance practice.