6 Min Read

Dancing in Dystopia: MindCon

"Two men are left behind in this futuristic dystopia. Immerse yourself in their world and witness their battle for control."

Step into a not-too-distant dystopian future with MindCon, a contemporary dance piece created by choreogrpaher Mitch Harvey and composer Louis Frere-Harvey. Mitch and Louis will take audiences out of the traditional theatre setting, by staging MindCon at the European Food Warehouse in Northbridge. Further adding to the unique experience, audience members will create their own perspective of the show, as they freely roam the space during the performance.

Between rehearsals Mitch and Louis took a moment to give further insight into what MindCon is all about. Here’s what they had to say…

MindCon, Mitch Harvey Company. Matsu Photography.

What can you tell us about this dystopian world you’ve created? Does it look or feel like anything we know? 
Mitch: It could feel like something that is really familiar to some people and for others it may seem like some strange brutalist wasteland. Through the set we have really tried to push a cold, dark and harsh environment not a place that people feel warm and cosy and something familiar to hold onto. I think we want audiences to walk in and not know where they are and have to make that up for themselves once they have gone back home.
Louis: We both agreed we wanted the world to feel like a potential future if we continued making certain choices as a collective species. Some of the elements may seem familiar, whereas some may feel like they’re sitting on the precipice of uncertainty and a potential fall into chaos.
What does this world sound like?
Mitch: There are lots of different sounds to the world, but we have tried to keep it grungy and dark although with in this there are some beautiful hopeful moments. Louis and I both love bass music so there is always going to be a loud system to make the audience feel the sound as well as hear it, so it hits them physically. 
Louis: I tried to really focus on creating a giant landscape, somewhat in-line with a Christopher Nolan film. It’s ominous and brooding, some moments of high energy and impact with a lot of evocative synthesis. I’m a big fan of a lot of sub bass also, so the score has a large focus on the low end. 

MindCon, Mitch Harvey Company. Matsu Photography.

Is there a background story to how these two men have ended up being the final two standing/ how the world got to this futuristic dystopia?
Mitch: No backstory behind the performers in a narrative sense this is left up to the audience to define their roles and stories as they see it. The world itself is just an offering of a possible future we may find ourselves in. Just looking at the world we are in, and decisions being made who knows what our future will look like. 

Louis: I think we both agree there isn’t necessarily a storyline, however we wanted to play with power struggles within self and against some form of authority. We wanted to make the audience feel like they could attach their own experiences into a future setting and how they might question certain powers differently.

You’re performing at European Foods Warehouse, what were some of the considerations you had to make when choreographing and composing for this space?
Mitch: Louis can talk about the sound in more detail but for the movement it was the sheer size of the space that was the biggest thing to navigate especially being a solo dancer. To best utilise the large space, I worked closely with set designer Jackson Harvey to develop the set and how it would sit in the space. By working closely, we could think of different ways that I can interact with it and how the audience will feel when they walk into the space. 
Louis: The space is enormous and it was a little intimidating at first, not going to lie. There are these huge natural reverbs as it’s just a giant empty warehouse so I need to account for these. I’ve tried to make the sounds a bit punchier with a stronger attack, rather than round and soft; mostly so they’re not swallowed by the space. Little moments of silence are also really effective as the audience get to hear a sound naturally slowly disappear. 

MindCon Development Trailer. Videography Matsu.

What was the development process for MindCon? And how did the idea for this performance emerge?

Mitch: It first started in 2019 on a residency at Lake Studios in Berlin, I didn’t really know Louis and I asked him if he was keen to join me after I had heard his music on some other works and loved it. We spent a 3-4 weeks there first developing the show looking at theories of different futures and societies taking inspiration from Yuval Noah Harari’s book Homo Deus. Then we undertook another residency at the Mandurah Performing Arts Centre for a week continuing to develop the work. We then had a week development in 2020 and that is when we brought in Jackson and Lighting designer Nemo Ganossini-Poirier to bring in the elements of the work and play with ides for the set and how we could create the world. Now we have the opportunity to present the work and with the support of Co3 through the IN RESDIENCE program we are able to bring the work to life and share it with everyone.

Louis: From my perspective, the developments involved sitting in the studio with Mitch and having a whole lot of conversations about how we perceive potential futures. Then I would leave the studio each night and work on something to bring in the next day to play around with. The first two developments were over a span of several years, and I’m feeling like I have improved a significant amount over this time. I’m definitely confident that this development is by far the closest version to how I’ve always imagined the sound to be.

What role do you want the audience to take on during this performance? 

Mitch: I want them to walk into the space and to feel like they are no longer in Northbridge and are placed in some new world. From there they become someone who occupies the space and has the freedom to to move around and view the work from where they are interested, a bystander or inhabitant of the world.

Louis: From a sound perspective, I’m trying to create moments of high impact and high tension almost to an overwhelming level. The build-up to these moments is the real key however, and it always is my favourite part of the journey. Slow spacious landscapes of sound, juxtaposed against some hard-hitting high-tension impacts. 

MindCon is running from Tuesday 2 November to Saturday 6 November at The European Food Warehouse in Northbridge.