The collapse of the West Gate Bridge in 1970 is a tragic event in Australia’s history that is etched in Melbourne’s public psyche. Not only did this event cause significant structural damage, including the collapse of 2000 tonnes of steel; it also resulted in a private and public outpouring of grief following the deaths of 35 construction workers.
Structure and Sadness is a performance that explores this tragic event through the medium of dance.
In developing Structure and Sadness, Lucy Guerin undertook extensive research into the event and investigated Royal Commission papers, Public Record Office documents and personal testimonies. For her, “the difficult part was to extract from this compelling story the elements of a dance piece” and to create a piece that responded sensitively to the tragic loss of life (Making Structure and Sadness Program, 2006).
The resulting work does not attempt to explain the factual or personal elements of the event but rather explore the visual, sensory, physical and emotive aspects of the bridge’s collapse.
Lucy Guerin said “The dancers and I spent a lot of time finding a movement vocabulary for this work. After a while it became clear that the physical forces acting on the bridge and the emotional impact on those involved, both had a similar movement vocabulary… so it was the two interpretations of collapse – structural and emotional – one a result of the other, that became the central themes of the work.”
Guerin has a unique capacity to illuminate deep human emotions through abstract choreography.
– The Age (2006)
Premiered at Malthouse Theatre for the Melbourne International Arts Festival, 2006