Close proximity is a site specific visual installation/ live solo dance performance about the human body under close scrutiny… The moving body is set against a backdrop of bizarre mirrored worlds, an interconnecting web of red rope, and textured layers of sound and video. Under such close observation, the female human psyche is – exposed and interrogated in front of an audience of onlookers.

The object:
Inanimate, beautiful, peculiar, wearable, symbolic.
The body:
Flesh, female, unique, desired, provoked, interrogated…on show.
The audience:
Voyeur, visitor, intruder, observer, witness, participant.
Close Proximity (n).
The state, quality, sense, or fact of being near or next; closeness.

Brisbane choreographer, dancer & member of Expressions Dance Company, Elise May delivers a compelling work investigating the complex network of relationships between the viewer and the viewed.


Close Proximity has been developed in three stages:

Mentorship (YAMP Program)

The working process for Close Proximity came about through the opportunity to work with Mariana Verdaasdonk (of Tokyo based 66bcell) in a mentorship capacity during 2008. For this opportunity I am thankful to the Queensland Government through Youth Arts Queensland and the YAMP (Young Artist Mentorship Program). The mentorship culminated in an informal presentation to a small group of invited peer artists and key industry stakeholders.

There were many reasons that I wanted to work with Mariana – her unusual artistic practice was inspiring to be involved in and the idea that many elements – sonic, textural, visual and moving could be interwoven to create a rich performative environment sparked my already growing interest in a digital, spatial interest in dance and movement.

At the beginning of the process we went into the Film & TV studios at QUT with Wayne Taylor (Lecturer in Film & TV) and played with ‘lipstick’ cameras capable of capturing the minute details of the body – the skin, hair, inside ear, and eye. From this, the idea of the closeness became of interest…

Close Proximity (n).The state, quality, sense, or fact of being near or next; closeness.

ShopFront Presentation
Ausdance Qld Bell Tower II Series 2009

The Ausdance Queensland Bell Tower Choreographic Workshop provided support and resources for the further development of Close Proximity when it was co-presented by Ausdance Queensland and the Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Art in the Shopfront space overlooking Brunswick Street, Fortitude Valley, Brisbane.
I specifically requested the Shopfront because it presented the opportunity to showcase the work in a non-traditional perfornance space.

The work evolved significantly in this period as my focus shifted towards creating a multilayered installation that responded to the strangely beautiful voyeristic quality of the ShopFront space. On one hand it became an enquiry into the use of object and space, but it was also an ongoing movement investigation and the relationship between the body and the viewer. I became interested in how a viewer can take part, become allured, resist or be immersed in a work and indeed what triggers these responses.

In this phase, a new deeper investigation of the original ideas arose:

A (n)
1. proximity, propinquity the property of being close together
Category Tree:
+position; spatial relation
+placement; arrangement
+spacing; spatial arrangement
+nearness; closeness
(Adapted From: WordNet 2.0 Copyright 2003 by Princeton University)

A fascilitated discussion/forum took place at the end of the show, lead by independent artist Brian Lucas. It really opened up alot of discussion amongst audience members and helped for me to disect and gain a new perspective of the work and gain insight for possible new directions for its future development.

Under the Radar – Brisbane Festival 2009

Close Proximity was presented again in a currated program of works featuring the quirky, outrageous & daring in an unofficial Brisbane fringe festival taking over the nooks, crannies and vacant spaces of Brisbane in September 2009.
Making use of an entirely different venue – a street side, grafitied alleyway and grungy industial workshop cage, Close Proximity evolved again, this time inviting audiences in yet a different capacity to view and become part of the work. Most significantly in this stage, the audience became an active component of the work, as they too participated in the promenade-like journey through these spaces, becoming linked to each other and the performer by red string throughout the course of the show.

Choreography, Video & Installation by Elise May
Music DJ Tr!p, Gotan Project and Gustavo Santaolalla

Brisbane Festival Under The Radar 2009
Creative Development supported by Ausdance Queensland and The Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Art