An artist is always busy, so in-between insane aerial stunts we could only dream of performing we're quick to yell our burning questions to acrobat extraordinaire, and HOTA Housemate, Ela Bartilomo.
#Only Bones Project
So what's Ela working on that has us all excited? She's the first Australian artist to perform her take on the Only Bones Project.
'Minimalist physical theatre and sparse-video performance project' is the nutshell description given to the project. With barely any guidelines, artists are told to work with 'only one light, no narrative, no set, no props, no text, and all within a limited amount of space'. What comes next is entirely up to the artist.
Lending her a space, production advice, and tech support, as well as our general amazement at her ability to graceful spin from silks, HOTA's Housemate program gives the city first access to shows in development, upcoming creatives and works.
You’ve performed as an acrobat and aerialist with a variety of troupes and companies, including international powerhouses Circa, Casus and Company 2. What does devising and performing physical theatre look like as a solo performer?
EB: Honestly it was a bit of a shock going from ensemble acrobatics to solo work. Though I’m used to doing acts by myself, it’s super different having an entire show with just you on stage. It was pretty hard to get used to, I found myself craving people to physically workshop ideas with and keep the mood up. It got a bit lonely at points when it was just me in the room so I found it really useful to have Leah and friends come in and help, or even just hang out and keep the energy up.
I still don’t think I have the perfect process, but usually I would start with a tiny idea/ concept, physically workshop it, find music or sounds that relate, improvise the idea to the sound, youtube inspiration, try to choreograph something then film and send to Leah and Thom for feedback.
You’ve been collaborating with Leah Shelton and Thomas Monckton during the project – what did that collaboration look like between the three of you?
EB: It was so helpful having the brilliant minds of Leah and Thom for the creation, I don’t know what I would have done without them. Leah and I worked really well in the room together, I would improvise ideas, and from the outside she would see things that worked and didn’t. From there it was easy for us to start choreographing scenes that made sense. As Thom was in New Zealand we used zoom and sent video to get his thoughts and feedback on the content. As Thom and Leah are both solo show experts, they were great to talk to when challenges arose and knew exactly how to work through them. In the last week of development I also had my musician friend Sam Ellis join Leah and I in the room to make some tracks for the show. It was a new and exciting way to work with music and be able to choreograph scenes while music and sounds were being made in real time.
What did you discover about the work – or your practice - during your development at HOTA?
EB: Number one, I realized pretty quickly I REALLY struggle working alone. I definitely get my energy from other people so it was quite a challenge at the start spending so many days alone. I ended up calling in friends to come hang out, help create and just be in the space with me so I didn’t feel so alone haha! Even if they weren’t doing anything I found I was way more productive with other energies in the room. Number two, I realized I usually start with a concept rather than music, a costume or an idea which is helpful to know. And thirdly, for me deadlines are everything! Nothing like the pressure of a particular date to push me to get things done.
Latest obsession - Who inspires you at the moment?
EB: At the moment I am actually living for Cirque Du Soleil, I know that's a bit cliche, but I really love the shows so much so I have been binge watching their 60 minute specials on YouTube.
What’s next for Only Bones?
EB: I am leaving the project for a little bit now to do some touring work but at the end of the year I’m going to come back to the project with hopefully some fresh eyes, remount the show for three days with Leah in December and then hopefully take it to New Zealand in January. I still can’t share everything, but I can tell you it’s going to be exciting.