Activators is Chunky Move’s commissioning program for small scale experimental new work with an open ended approach to the format and platform for presentation. We commission multiple works annually and the program is curated by invitation only. Activators is grounded in choreographic approaches to site, space, time and material with the body at the centre of investigation. The program acknowledges expanded practice in art making as an aspect informing contemporary dance and Activators commissioned artists play a role in shaping and influencing contemporary and future dance practice. Previous works in the program have explored digital screen based practice and animation, hybrid performance lecture contexts, gallery formats and live streamed events.

Activators 10

TADRA, and other visions
Jahra Wasasala in collaboration with Henry Lai-Pyne and Olivia Luki (Spewer)

Visions, nightmares and sinking worlds; a one-off showing by some of Aotearoa’s and Naarm’s most exciting contemporary artists.

For Activators 10, Chunky Move is excited to work with Aotearoa (New Zealand)-based Jahra Wasasala, Fijian world-builder, movement psychopomp and writer. Jahra will be working in collaboration and presenting with Naarm-based artist Henry Lai-Pyne and Aotearoa-based artist Oliva Luki (Spewer).

Jahra, along with their collaborators will undertake a residency at Chunky Move studios, culminating in a one-off public showing as part of FRAME: a biennial of dance.

Residency at Chunky Move
Monday 27–Friday 31 March 2023

Public Presentation
Chunky Move studios
Friday 31 March 2023, 6:00pm–7:00pm

Free, limited capacity, registration essential.
Register here

Creative Team
Created by: Jahra Wasasala in collaboration Henry Lai-Pyne and Oliva Luki (Spewer)

This event may contain smoke effects, haze and loud music.

Presented by Chunky Move as part of FRAME: A biennial of dance.

Activators 10: TADRA, and other visions was commissioned as part of Chunky Move’s Activators program. Presented by Chunky Move as part of FRAME: A biennial of dance.

Activators is supported by the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria, and the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts.

Photo by Jocelyn Janon

Jahra (Arieta) Wasasala is a Fijian/Pakeha world-builder, movement psychopomp and writer of realms. Within Viti, they hail from the provinces of Macuata and Ba. Jahra is based in the relational space between a world ending and another world beginning. They centre dance as the chosen tool of transmutation, living-memory, and embodiment, whilst expanding that living work into sound, adornment, poetry, sculpture, and digital realms through their collaborations that have travelled internationally. Jahra gives gratitude to Tāmaki Makaurau (raised) and Te Awa Kairangi-ki-Uta (current) and their multiple iwi, and to the influence that relationship to place undoubtedly has on every artist’s work. Jahra affectionately sees their work as ‘Oceanic Terror-fi’, and constantly moves towards being spirit-led and blood-led in their evolving creative offering.

Activators 9

To immortality and out the other side
Lilian Steiner & Patrick Hamilton

Dance is potent. It circulates within us like blood, and seeps out of us like sweat. Enigmatic in character, Dance nests within many bodies in order to define its shape. Although volatile and untouchable, Dance is always poised at the ready, waiting to be observed.

To immortality and out the other side is a sculptural work that celebrates Dance as an essential material for the creation of its own archive. With the aid of motion capture technology, the dancing body and its logic has passed into the digital realm in order to birth a new, physicalised skeletal body – its own archival relic, a fossilised dance…

However, housed within Gallium (a natural metal with a melting point at 29.76°C), this Dance remains volatile and untouchable, just like its creator.



Activators 9: To immortality and out the other side was commissioned as part of Chunky Move’s Activators program. Activators is supported by the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria, the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, and Creative Partnerships Australia through Plus1.

Created by: Lilian Steiner and Patrick Hamilton

Technical Team: Blair Hart and Siobhain Geany

Installation Launch: Thursday 11 August, 5:30pm–7:30pm
Light refreshments provided.

Artist Talk: Saturday 13 August, 2:00pm–3:00pm (Auslan interpreted)

Installation Opening Hours: Friday 12 August, 9:30am–5:30pm and Saturday 13 August, 9:30am–2:00pm
Free, drop-in

Chunky Move Studios
111 Sturt St, Southbank

Access information:

This event will have low lighting.

The artist talk on Saturday 13 August, 2:00pm–3:00pm will be Auslan interpreted. Please advise of any access requirements upon registering.

This work is a collaboration between dancer and choreographer, Lilian Steiner, and designer and 3D visualiser, Patrick Hamilton.

Lilian Steiner is a dancer and choreographer whose practice champions the deep intelligence of the body and its unique ability to reveal and comment on the complexities of contemporary humanity. Her choreographic work has been presented in notable contexts in Australia, France, Italy, Switzerland, Spain and Hong Kong. Lilian received the Green Room Award for Best Female Dancer in both 2017 and 2018, as well as the Helpmann Award in 2017.

Patrick Hamilton is a Melbourne based designer, 3D visualiser and video artist. Combining CGI, photography, sculpture, sound, video and other digital media, his practice spans photo-realistic imagery for commercial applications through to more experimental art making. His often unorthodox use of materials and 3D technology aims to question our ability to observe and interface with the increasingly digitised world around us.

Image description: A very close up photo of a face with droplets of silver metal above the eyebrow.

We’ve been thinking about the dancing body as a material or substance with its own set of properties. We’ve been thinking about the impermanence of materials and about the natural tendency towards evolution. We’ve been thinking about how dance follows a trajectory of accumulation and decay within each singular body as that particular body moves through time, yet how Dance (as its own type of material) manages to spread itself across many bodies in order to maintain and grow itself.

Lilian: For a long time I’ve felt resistant to the idea of dance and technology working together. I love the analog-ness of a live human body dealing with its own nature, the rigour involved in working within the fleshy, bony, fluid and emotion filled human condition. But then I think about the joy of my own impermanence and consider,
a) what kind of impressions/fossils I’d like to leave behind,
b) that Dance does not exist within only human bodies,
c) that the process of exchange has a materiality and memory too.

Patrick: I have anxieties about the type of permanence that results from digitisation. In digital space, creators have control over user experience – visualising and other types of digital capture immortalise events. Moments can be revisited and experienced again and again by all well into the future, and a digital experience never fully captures the live. It seems unnatural for our bodies, words, behaviour, experiences etc. to exist in the cloud. At times it feels un-human.

So we’ve been thinking about the human body and its trajectory of decay, about memory and memorialisation, archiving and archaeology, embodied experience of one bodily form vs. another, the potential for permanence and the associated joy and fear…

…so this project is some kind of attempt to capture a dance, to memorialise it, but only in order to create a new dancing body that has the ability to further evolve/dissolve, with a destiny to eventually exist only as memory material, just like the dance that gave birth to it. This new dancing body hovers in front of us, performing for us, enigmatic but staunch in its gesturing towards notions of time, creationism (in the non-religious sense) and the power of long-lasting echo.

Some practical information:

Using a Rokoko Smartsuit Pro, we captured improvised dances which Lilian performed solo. The data from these captures was used to generate new, digital bodies. The growth of these bodies has been designed in a 3D visualisation program called 3D Max, with plugins from a software called TyFlow, where we customised settings to enable particles to grow from the movement pathways, and accumulate over time. Essentially, these technologies allowed us to grow new ‘bones’ via the movement trajectories of the captured dance, allowing each dance to birth its own skeletal relic, Each dance was fossilised. The dance/fossil/new body we have chosen to share with you was one of the first captured dances, and so we felt it was appropriate to let it be seen first.

– Lilian & Patrick

Activators 8

Musica Ricercata
Shian Law

“The world set an empty stage, but there was no occasion for it.”

During months of lockdown, Shian Law recorded himself dancing all over the city. He found empty stages everywhere he looked—under the Flemington bridge, in carparks on the rooftops of high-rise buildings, at the entrance of a five-star hotel, in the compound of an abandoned factory—and shared his recordings on social media.


Activators 8: Musica Ricercata is commissioned as part of Chunky Move’s Activators program and is presented as part of ACCA’s Who’s Afraid of Public Space? program.

Activators is supported by the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria, the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, and Creative Partnerships Australia through Plus1.

Created by: Shian Law

Performed by: Shian Law and Victoria Chiu

Producer: Kristina Arnott

Technical Team: Blair Hart and Siobhain Geaney

ACCA Forecourt
Wednesday, 9 March 2022
7:30pm – 8:10pm

 Please note: this event was previously scheduled for Saturday 5 March but has been rescheduled due to wet weather forecast.

Free, registrations encouraged.

Register here.

Access information:

This event takes place outdoors on the gravelled area of the North Forecourt of the ACCA/Chunky Move building. This is a standing event, audiences are able to move around during the performance. Limited seating is available for people with access requirements. Please inform us if you require a seat.

For one evening only, Chunky Move brings Shian Law’s provocative exploration of public space to the ACCA forecourt as part of Who’s Afraid of Public Space?. Accompanied by esteemed choreographer and dancer Victoria Chiu and a baby grand piano, Law investigates dance as a necessity for both the soul and the body and the resilience and creativity of artists to find a stage when the world is at a standstill.

“Dance is one of the ways for me to be in the world. During the months of hard lock-down, most of us weren’t left with many of these outlets. But I had myself, a world, a stage, and the history of dancing in my body. And to my soul’s consolation, I (re)discovered beauty in the delight one can have from a dance. That delight is my offering to you. And I hope you can find beauty in it.” – Shian Law

Activators 7

Harrison Hall and Luca Dante

Created by digital choreographer Harrison Hall and motion graphics artist Luca Dante, Maelstrom is a sombre meditation on the unseen, hidden and destabilising forces that transform us.  A mutable site for trauma and catharsis, the body exists in this work as a liminal site between the real and imagined.

Combining the motion capture of dancing bodies, 3D animation and physics engines with sound by experimental techno/ambient sound artist Pavel Milyakov (Russia), the work is experienced as an immersive multi-channel projection and soundscape.

In Maelstrom, the vastness of time and space sets the scene for an unsettling dance of nameless skins. The uncanny movements of these digital embodiments forewarn us of the fragility of reality, as bodies fly and swirl in an absurd dance that warps earthly limits.  Neither here nor there, this dance exists in the volume between worlds, through pressures and forces to no particular place.  Maelstrom drags us like rag dolls from the present, flinging our flailing limbs onto the threshold of tomorrow. Into the vortex, we go down, further and deeper, we go down…



Activators 7

Maelstrom by Harrison Hall and Luca Dante

Presented by MARS Gallery and Metro Arts

Lead Artists: Harrison Hall and Luca Dante

Sound: Pavel Milyakov

Featuring digitised movement from: Yumi Umuimare, Anis Aziz, Parissah Ibrahimi Rerakis, Vivian Schmeider, Robert Tinning, Ren, Imanuel Dado, Yuiko Masukawa and Aoife Carli Hannan

Producer: Kristina Arnott

Technical Team: Blair Hart and Siobhain Geaney

Maelstrom is commissioned as part of Chunky Move’s Activators program and was first developed through Solitude 1, a funded research opportunity from Chunky Move in partnership with the Tanja Liedtke Foundation.

Presentation dates:

MARS Gallery: 8–18 December 2021
Open 10am–4pm, Tue–Sat

Metro Arts (Brisbane): 2–18 December 2021
See Metro Arts website for opening hours

Activators 6

Amber McCartney

SOFTTRAP is a single-channel screen work by dancer and choreographer Amber McCartney that uses body horror tropes to redefine the flesh as a site for harbouring instability.  The work questions the potential of the body as it is extended and expanded through physical and artificial manipulation.

Using replicas of her own arms, created by McCartney and special effects makeup artist, Kiana Jones, the artist inhabits a transformed body that fluctuates between eerily familiar and disturbingly foreign.  Over the course of the film, McCartney attempts complete embodiment in an experimental purging of the internal in an attempt to experience human form as both the subject and object of terror.

An accompanying sound design by Morgan Hickinbotham intensifies the viewer’s discomfort and unease made manifest in the work, where the body exists as a mutable site for trauma and catharsis, between the real and imagined.

Activators 6

SOFTTRAP by Amber McCartney

Created by: Amber McCartney

Sound: Morgan Hickinbotham

Prosthetics: Kiana Jones

SOFTTRAP is commissioned as part of Chunky Move’s Activators program and was first developed through funded research opportunity, SOLITUDE 1 from Chunky Move in partnership with the Tanja Liedtke Foundation.

Presentation dates:

Digital Livestream and Artist Talk: Thursday, 21 October 2021

Activators 5

Ngioka Bunda-Heath

Imagine seeing images frozen in time of your ancestors in museums, taken by people documenting an ‘exotic’ sighting. Who has the power over their image?

Co-commissioned by Chunky Move and Next Wave, Ngioka Bunda-Heath’s (Wakka Wakka, Ngugi, Birrpai) new dance work and photographic exhibition explores the idea of shifting the gaze and refocusing the colonial lens that has publicly framed her ancestors.

Extending on her 2019 YIRRAMBOI Festival work, Blood Quantum, about her mother’s story, Birrpai turns to Ngioka’s father’s heritage; to her great-grandmother captured by the camera of a ‘culturalist’. She puts a First Nation perspective on colonial photography alongside contemporary dance that has taken her to stages around the world.

Ngioka Bunda-Heath’s solo Blood Quantum, beginning with the dancer’s strongly weighted plunging to the earth over and over, was poignant and challenging. Video and voice told the tragedy of children being taken from their mother as Bunda-Heath’s movement gradually intensified to thrashing despair. ” – Kim Dunphy

Activators 5

Birrpai by Ngioka Bunda-Heath is co-commissioned by Chunky and Next Wave.

Choreographer and Performer: Ngioka Bunda-Heath
Cultural Consultant and Performer: John Heath
Dramaturge/Movement Director: Joel Bray
Mentor: Theodore Cassady
Sound Engineer: Daniel Nixon
Lighting Designer: Siobhain Geaney
Stage Manager: Steph Cox
Producer: Erica McCalman

Birrpai is supported by the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria, City of Moreland, YIRRAMBOI Festival Resilience in Isolation Fund, Brunswick Mechanics Institute, Besen Family Foundation and Lucy Guerin Inc via a studio residency at WXYZ Studio.

Presentation dates:

Venue: Blak Dot Gallery

8-14 May 2021

Photography Exhibition
29 April – 27 May

Photo by James Henry

Activators 4

Conversation Series and First Chapter of a Novel

Curated by independent dancer and choreographer, Leah Landau for Chunky Move, Activators 4 comprises Conversation Series and First Chapter of a Novel. The project existed through a website for one year, and now is archived as a digital publication.

Conversation Series invites six Australian-based artists to discuss absence, text and performance, with a conversation partner of their choosing. The artists (Amaara Raheem, Amrita Hepi, Daniel Jenatsch, Megan Payne, Tim Darbyshire and Rhiannon Newton) can speak to someone who is relatively unknown to them; someone they may have met in passing, at a residency or a festival; perhaps someone they have never met but are curious about; someone that may not come from the quote unquote art background. Leah has collated the many texts and other references referred to in (or evoked by) the conversations into a Reading List, for those who’d like to dive deeper.

As kind of sister project, artist Brian Fuata created AN EMAIL PERFORMANCE OF A FIRST CHAPTER OF A FICTIONAL NOVEL AS PROPOSITION (or a minor text in six parts)using the six artist conversations as material to create ‘the first chapter of a novel’Brian’s Email Performance is a lesson in performative velocity, the ‘when-hits-what-hits-how-hits-who’.

Activators 3

Harrison Hall, Sam Mcgilp, and Justin Kane

BONANZA! is a playful blend of dance/ film/ digital animation/ artist dialogue, filmed in Alpha60’s Chapter House.  Created by Harrison Hall, Sam Mcgilp and Justin Kane, BONANZA! is ArtxDialogue with guests NAXS Corp (Taiwan) and Lu Yang (China).  An uneasy meeting of nostalgic-futurism, BONANZA! is a lament for our physical bodies and an exaltation of digital reincarnation.

Watch trailer here

Activators 3: Harrison Hall, Sam Mcgilp, and Justin Kane is curated by Leah Landau as part of Chunky Move’s Activators Program and presented in association with Alpha60

Created by: Harrison Hall and Sam Mcgilp
Director/DOP: Justin Kane
Interviewed artists: Naxs Corp and Lu Yang
Sound: Meuko Meuko!, Software2050, Odaeri and Caly Jandro
Director of Photography: Justin Kane
Drone Pilots/Operators: Radar Kane, Josh Labita, Trevor Kane (HARPY)
Animation: Luca Dante

Technical Operator/Streaming: Siobhain Geaney
3D Scanning: Ben Waters (Siii Projects)
Hair: Dominique Spiteri
First Assistant: Lotus Hall
Dressed by: Alpha60
Styling: Andrew Treloar

Presentation date:
Digital Livestream, Tuesday, 15 December 2020

Video still by Justin Kane

Video still by Justin Kane

Video by Justin Kane


Video still by Justin Kane

Activators 2

Body / Insect / Machine
Prue Lang & Mathieu Briand

Movement experiments – human, insect and mechanical bodies. This video artwork is a movement experiment between Prue Lang’s choreography, artist Mathieu Briand’s androids and a Phasmid (stick insect). The work explores the body/androids/artificial movement/intelligence on the one side and the body/human instinct/natural movement/nature on the other. Through the creative process, Lang and Briand have observed, responded to and manipulated the complex relationships between these concepts, approaching the distinctions between physical presence vs. artificial presence with curiosity.

Activators 2: Prue Lang & Mathieu Briand is presented by Chunky Move in association with Science Gallery Melbourne and University of Melbourne

With thanks to Professor Mark Elgar, Professor of Evolutionary Biology and Animal Behaviour at University of Melbourne

Presentation dates:
15 August –
23 August 2020,
as part of National Science Week

9 September –
13 September 2020,
as part of Ars Electronica


Activators 1

Helen Grogan & Mark Friedlander

Activators 1 unfolds as an offering of art discourse in the format of art event. Developed as a dialogue and presented in three parts, Friedlander and Grogan craft pragmatic tasks that attend to a sharing of curiosity and potentiality, rather than the staging or display of a ‘complete outcome’. Each of the three parts acknowledges and reveals how the artists’ actions/thoughts are imbued with embodied knowledge – choreography, material fabrication, spatial comprehension – as are all actions/thoughts already happening within the site.

Activators 1: Helen Grogan & Mark Friedlander is presented by Chunky Move in association with MPavilion

Presentation date:
Friday 14 February,
MPavilion, Queen Victoria Gardens, Melbourne

Image by Lucy Foster

Image by Lucy Foster

Image by Lucy Foster

Activators 5, 6, 7 and 8 are presented in partnership with the following:

Activators 1, 2, 3 & 4 were supported by the City of Melbourne Arts Grants Program and presented in partnership with the following: