Four men take to the stage in Untrained. Two are highly skilled, experienced dancers and two have no movement training at all.
All are given the same instructions, but how they execute them reveals a portrait of each man’s character.
The evolution of these actions invites an unavoidable and sometimes humorous comparison between them, and examines how their physical histories set them apart. The complex, refined movements that one man executes with ease can only be approximated by another. The raw spontaneity of the movements of an untrained body cannot be replicated by the body of an experienced dancer.
Untrained has no set and the performers are dressed in rehearsal tracksuits. The repetition of the instruction by each dancer is the focus of the work, and the differences between the performers become apparent as soon as they walk on stage.
The resulting performances had audiences laughing, cheering and applauding the gallant efforts of the untrained performers as they tried to follow the sophisticated movements of the trained dancers. The laughter of audiences was, for Lucy, completely unexpected, but it was soon clear that the untrained men “were ultimately the stars of the show. Audiences imagine themselves in the same position and ask themselves ‘What would I do?’”(Southbank Centre Blog, 2013). They admire not only the skill and virtuosity of the dancers, but the courage and unique approach of the men without training.
Since it premiered in Melbourne in 2009, Untrained has been so warmly received by audiences that it has been performed across Australia and internationally, including the US, Hong Kong and Brazil. To maintain the untrained dancers’ spontaneity and lack of familiarity with the movements, the cast needed to change regularly. Auditions were held to recruit the untrained performers for each show, and just one week is spent on rehearsals.
Watch excerpts of Untrained
Watch a feature on an Untrained workshop
Premiered in Dance Massive 2009 at Arts House, Meat Market Melbourne, March 2009.
“A fascinating combination of dance, theatre, improvisation and multimedia, all presented with just the right amount of quirk and irreverence.”
Australian Stage (2009)
Discover archival resources for Untrained at the Theatre and Dance Platform, University of Melbourne.
Images by The original ‘Untrained’ artists