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Eliza and Charles Sanders
Samples of Prior work
Muscle Mouth Here
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Knitting While Sleeping
Filmed and Edited By Owen McCarthy
Creator - Eliza Sanders
Performers - Sophie Gargan, Tyler Carney, Laura Beanland-Stephens, Jadyn Burt
Filmed and edited by Owen McCarthy
Creator - Eliza Sanders
Performer - Sophie Garagn
Director/ Dramaturge - Charles Sanders
Filmed and edited By Jacob Edmonds
Creator - Eliza Sanders
Dancers - Jeremy Beck, Chris Mills, Mason Kelly
Music composition - Mario Spate
Collected Images - Prior work
Productions: Various (see gallery pages for details)
Photographers (variously): Stephan A'Court, Lorna Sim, Jacob Edmonds, Alexandra Nell, Sofia Calado, Lisa Maree Williams
Knitting While Sleeping
As an audience member walking into Knitting While Sleeping, you are faced with an important choice. Do you join in, or do you spectate? Joining in means being immersed in the dance experience. It’s certainly an exciting option not often offered to dance audiences. Choosing to participate brings you close to the dancers who will interact with you regularly as you become a part of the performance. However, it is difficult from the ground to see the piece as it occurs. By choosing this option you will miss out on parts of the show as you cannot initially stand up. This is also not the right choice for allergy sufferers as you will be coated in feathers. But after you’ve made a choice on the experience that best suits you, from a pure spectator or active participant perspective, you’ll be immersed and caught up in a beautiful world of peaceful chaos.
The choreography style draws heavily on the works of Pina Bausch. Bausch is known for her complex settings and for giving her dancers a sense of autonomy whilst encouraging them to lose control. Large parts of her Café Muller piece required the dancers to close their eyes and perform the choreography through a set of chairs and tables. Her show Rite of Spring had the dancers moving through a stage full of dirt. Understanding this influence in the piece helps to see how excellently incorporated Bausch’s influence was in Knitting While Sleeping.
Throughout the piece dancers alternately swirl and writhe through a dreamscape of delicate feathers. The feathers highlight every move. They create flurries of floating movement and show big, swirling patterns on the floor as the dancers push and slide through them. Despite the delicate feathers, the movement itself is rarely light. The dancers struggle and jerk through the space with energy. It draws a fine line between moving with purpose and losing control. As an audience member on the floor, I felt nurtured by the dancers. They didn’t fight the audience at all. If someone laughed, they joined. We were never silenced, never threatened, just led through the experience perfectly capable of responding in our own ways. It’s sometimes hard to feel comfortable as an audience member onstage when there’s also an audience watching you. Knitting While Sleeping walked a comfortable line of moments of interaction and moments of allowing us to quietly spectate.
This is the show for anyone who’s been too nervous to go to see modern dance. It offers a variety of audience experiences all of which give you a fascinating look at an emotional, impressively physical world. Knitting While Sleeping is on at BATS Theater from now until the 27th of February.
Fear of Eggs
March 22, 2018. Tim and James Stevenson
Anyone with an interest in modern dance should hustle on down to BATS Theatre to catch this production. Its articulate, polished, thoughtful, often beautiful and always intriguing; challenging the imagination while pleasing the eye.
Co-director/dramaturg Charles Sanders’ notes tell us that Fear of Eggs explored the joy and nostalgia of looking back at childhood and examining how it shapes bodies and minds. This is a broad brief which the production feels free to interpret loosely. The dancers give us a series of sustained images which suggest aspects of human relationships: friendship, childhood, family, sexuality, nostalgia, the limitations of communication. These images, or passages, are linked together in a loose narrative arc which gives the show a nice sense of shape and purpose.
Not everything we see on stage lends itself easily to labelling and defining. This is probably as it should be and dovetails neatly with the directors’ intentions. Charles sanders’ notes invite us to approach the show in a spirit of open imagination, relating its content to our own memories and experiences.
The show makes good use of what, for the venue, is a large company of dancers. Eleven dancers on stage in BATS’ Heyday Dome can – and do – create an impressive visual impact. The show’s most satisfying moments are those where the company is working together to create a dynamic collective image, whether it’s of chaotic movement, parodic glee, or stately pageant.
There are also moments when there’s so much going on that the audience doesn’t know which part of the stage to watch – maybe a deliberate metaphor for how we perceive reality?
Not all the highlights feature the whole company. One of the show’s outstanding passages is a long sensual, Laocoönian duet which twines across the stage like a pair of loving snakes.
Fear of Eggs has a strong company who overall demonstrate a high level of commitment and skill. They are often required to act out extremes of emotion as well as dance; the results achieved are a credit to the individual dancers and their choreographer, Eliza Sanders.
The show is well supported by its visual display and lighting (Owen McCarthy), costumes (Monique Bartosh) and choice of music – everything from Mozart to Skeeter Davis.
We didn’t see House of Sand’s previous Fringe shows – Pedal.Peddle (2015) and Castles (2016) – so can’t compare but their offerings this year stands out as a combination of successful conception and execution.
Photography by Stephen A'Court
Scenestr. James Murphy, 6 March 2018
We enter this world naked and exposed. From every subsequent experience, we must glean meaning and then peg this understanding to our psyche, with each divergent thread ultimately constructing a patchwork, a sanctuary, a refuge from life’s tumult.
This is the premise that weaves through House of Sand’s beautifully erratic 'Castles', which is an innovative fusion of dance, theatre, poetry and song that has garnered acclaim in New Zealand and the eastern states. It is a collaboration between siblings: Eliza Sanders, the writer and performer, and Charles, the Director.
A writhing Eliza, naked from the torso upwards, greets the audience as they enter the theatre. A few minutes of awkward silence is ultimately broken by song; a vocal tone as pure as a soloist in a church choir. It is a show of such rapid shifts and transformations. Like life, you can never quite anticipate what will happen next. Eliza uses the lyrics of modern poets such as Nick Cave, Laura Marling and Regina Spektor as the base camp for absurdist word association on the themes of queer and gender identity and their interaction with organised religion, amongst other things. The estuary where each stream of consciousness meets the sea arrives when some solace is found in an interpretation of a phrase or idea.
Eliza’s words, and her dance, often contain elements of improvisation; a perpetual probing for new possibilities in a frantic search for safe harbour. In the climatic sequence, after almost an hour of frenetic energy, she is joined by a patchwork partner named Pablo, a versatile wearable puppet, which ultimately provides the comfort that she has been seeking in unexpected ways. You are left pondering the question of whether it is only through the love of others that we can find the home we are seeking, or whether it can be reached simply through the love of self?
This is not a piece that offers easy answers or even a singularly clear narrative or resolution. Like the performer on stage, the audience must piece together their own truth, which is a process that can be ultimately more powerful than any other
Pedal and Castles are a pairing of individual pieces that demonstrate the genius talent of Eliza Sanders, whose boundless exploration into performance and theatre creation deliver experiences that are full of joy, surprise and wonder. Amalgamating the clichéd triple threat of singing, dancing and acting, Sanders redefines the stage artist into a singular agent with capacities limited only by imagination. Her multi-disciplinary skills are showcased perfectly in both works, along with the most inventive approach to writing and choreography for a style of show that is striking for its effortless originality and distinctive sense of beauty.
These are not simply stories, but abstract expressions that find a purpose in time without the reliance on logic and narrative. In tandem with brother Charles Sanders’ direction, the siblings’ ability to move us, to cease our attention and connect with our emotions, without the use of anything remotely formulaic or conventional, is evidence that a purity of intention and an instinctive acuity are at play here.
Eliza Sanders’ physical presence is that of a dancer’s, all discipline and agility, but her personality refuses to be subservient, the combination of which results in a powerful state of being that puts on stage, the very vibrancy of life itself. Without the distraction of reason, we are in direct contact with a living, breathing and in this case, enthralling, organism, whose various representations of our complex existence, draw us into a state of sharing, listening and acknowledgement, that seems to make life that much more meaningful. Observing Sanders is to be at one with nature, and the resonance she provides, is akin to the excitement one receives when enraptured in the vision of early spring’s blossoming flowers.
Where there is no need to ask why, we abandon the past and the future, to stay firmly in the now. Eliza and Charles Sanders are important artists who give us an alternate view of the world. Knowledge and experience are limitless, and in art, we can find catalysts to help us grow. The language in Pedal and Castles is not a translatable version of the familiar, but a different course of communication for arriving at somewhere new. The danger of becoming small and narrow is ever-present, but when art does its job well, we are shown the way to emancipation, and we must take every step that leads us there.