winner of outstanding achievement in independent dance
" For a work of rare and complex choreographic logic and aesthetic, a demanding and assured piece of dance theatre with structural clarity and subject matter that required sophisticated psychological distillation by the choreographer and her collaborating artists".

australian dance awards 2006

churchill's black dog
depression, darkness and the human psyche

this work looks at depression, darkness and the human psyche - how we all get through the day. particularly on a bad day, or month or year...

this is a 60 minute dance-theatre work that is performed in a proscenium-arch theatre on a bed of dry autumn leaves. the performers never leave the stage and the work is punctuated by text, movement and strong visual imagery.

this work won best independent dance at the 2006 Australian Dance Awards and was nominated for best choreography in the same year.

"Upon a sea of dead, dried leaves, this production brutally explored and exposed the the darkest elements of the blackness that is major depression. The prevailing images were of individuals engaged in a profound and continued struggle with self and invisible, but terrifying visions or boundaries. A woman struggled in a claw foot bath as one endeavoured to determine if she was drowning, emerging or strangling herself.

Against an auditory backdrop of jovial vintage music another terrible struggle took place in the leaf litter: apparently endeavouring to dig herself free, a woman buried herself beneath the dead leaves. It was a scene which was painfully reminiscent of Babes in the Woods, minus the caring birds.

Another woman dashed about with a white suitcase as though to flee her plight, but went nowhere. She read weather forecasts from exotic, faraway places. When the suitcase flew open it too was full of leaves, some were dying, some were still green. It prompted the question, did she still have hope or did the suitcase contain her fading dreams?

For the majority of the performance the dancers were in a constant state of frantic and frenetic movement depicting continued struggle: Brownian motion with no equilibrium attained. The physical effort exerted was truly exhausting.

The message was unequivocally clear: no person would choose to be in such a black and frightening place and those who were there were unable to aid their own escape. This message was starkly evident as a man's voice condemned his partner for their perceived state of helplessness and isolation. At this point the woman was actually face down in the litter struggling to rise as she coughed and choked on the dust and leaves. It was a painful and poignant moment. The man continued to raise his voice in condemnation as he hid beneath the table: an uninformed ostrich or a frightened foetus? As an exhausted woman was falling proximal to the man, he failed to support her - when she leaned upon his shoulder he shook her off. Paradoxically, she endeavoured to hold him up. A woman wriggled across the floor and dragged herself to her feet. A frightened face looked up and a delicate hand was extended toward the audience in my direction. I felt helpless and guilty, unable to assist.

There were quiet and lonely moments: a woman eating from a paper bag, a man reading aloud as he penned a mediocre letter about writing a mediocre letter. He placed a chair before a doorway, suggestive of an impending hanging, but instead played a verbal solitaire: the game of knock, knock played alone."

exceprt of review by Michele Boylan

below is a 15 minute excerpt of this work


churchill's black dog

churchill's black dog

> go to images


Churchill's Black Dog from Clare Dyson on Vimeo.



performance team

avril huddy
brian lucas
vanessa mafe
elise may
tammy meeuwissen

lighting design
mark dyson

fiona cullen

premiered in 2005
at the Judith Wright Centre for Contemporary Arts

and toured to
ANU Arts Centre in September 2005
La Boite Theatre as part of Brisbane Festival 2006

this work is tour-ready with team of 6.
please contact the company for more details

This work is suitable for audiences of 15yrs +
It contains some nudity


bravely supported by Arts ACT, The Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts, Arts Qld and John Petty for performances at the Brisbane Festival 2006