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Attempted exorcism on a remote peak inspired new dance piece

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Hiking up a mountain in Romania, Melbourne dancer and designer Geoffrey Watson was subjected to an exorcism by people he had just met.

The “unexpected and confronting” attempt to convert the artist to orthodox beliefs (the country is majority Christian) had a clear aim: “They were coming from the point of view of my sexuality.”

Choreographer Lucy Guerin and dancers Geoffrey Watson, Tra Mi Dinh, Lilian Steiner and Amber McCartney in rehearsal for Flux Job.Credit:Chris Hopkins

Watson, comfortable “with my sexuality and every other aspect of my queerness and my being”, has turned the encounter to spoken text as part of Lucy Guerin’s new dance work Flux Job, about the fault lines of isolation and community connection.

The encounter was like the recent “fortunate scrapping” of the divisive Religious Discrimination Bill in Australia, Watson says. “As much as my story is about a bizarre otherworldly experience that happened in a foreign country [which] we think of as having a very different way of behaving to Anglophile Australia, seeing those attitudes make themselves once again be politically important here is a shock.”

Guerin says she was struck by Watson’s pre-pandemic Romanian story, “coming up against people with inflexible opinions and attitudes”. Over the past two years, as Flux Job was being created under the shadow of a pandemic lockdown, she felt that time warped and people seemed to rapidly age and become entrenched in their beliefs.

“The pandemic seemed to bring out extreme positions for people; something that was always there became galvanised,” she muses.

In one section of Flux Job, dancers Watson, Tra Mi Dinh, Amber McCartney and Lilian Steiner apply ageing makeup, transforming before the audience’s eyes, as they speak their texts.

Time, fear and the inevitability of death are all undercurrents in the piece. During the making of the work, Guerin’s father, Ron, a retired civil engineer, died aged 95.

Growing up, Guerin had the “young girl’s generic fantasy” of becoming a ballet dancer. Her father took her to see an Australian Ballet production of Stravinsky’s The Firebird at age eight that is emblazoned upon her memory.


Hiking up a mountain in Romania, Melbourne dancer and designer Geoffrey Watson was subjected to an exorcism by people he had just met.

The “unexpected and confronting” attempt to convert the artist to orthodox beliefs (the country is majority Christian) had a clear aim: “They were coming from the point of view of my sexuality.”

 Choreographer Lucy Guerin and dancers Geoffrey Watson, Tra Mi Dinh, Lilian Steiner and Amber McCartney in rehearsal for Flux Job.

Choreographer Lucy Guerin and dancers Geoffrey Watson, Tra Mi Dinh, Lilian Steiner and Amber McCartney in rehearsal for Flux Job.Credit:Chris Hopkins

Watson, comfortable “with my sexuality and every other aspect of my queerness and my being”, has turned the encounter to spoken text as part of Lucy Guerin’s new dance work Flux Job, about the fault lines of isolation and community connection.

The encounter was like the recent “fortunate scrapping” of the divisive Religious Discrimination Bill in Australia, Watson says. “As much as my story is about a bizarre otherworldly experience that happened in a foreign country [which] we think of as having a very different way of behaving to Anglophile Australia, seeing those attitudes make themselves once again be politically important here is a shock.”

Guerin says she was struck by Watson’s pre-pandemic Romanian story, “coming up against people with inflexible opinions and attitudes”. Over the past two years, as Flux Job was being created under the shadow of a pandemic lockdown, she felt that time warped and people seemed to rapidly age and become entrenched in their beliefs.

“The pandemic seemed to bring out extreme positions for people; something that was always there became galvanised,” she muses.

In one section of Flux Job, dancers Watson, Tra Mi Dinh, Amber McCartney and Lilian Steiner apply ageing makeup, transforming before the audience’s eyes, as they speak their texts.

Time, fear and the inevitability of death are all undercurrents in the piece. During the making of the work, Guerin’s father, Ron, a retired civil engineer, died aged 95.

Growing up, Guerin had the “young girl’s generic fantasy” of becoming a ballet dancer. Her father took her to see an Australian Ballet production of Stravinsky’s The Firebird at age eight that is emblazoned upon her memory.

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