Arts / Culture

Amrita Hepi on impossible beginnings and her new dance piece ‘Rinse’ at Liveworks 2022

amrita hepi liveworks

The eighth iteration of Liveworks 2022 is now in session. For the uninitiated, Performance Space is bringing a ten day festival of experimental art from First Nations, Australian and Asia-Pacific artists to Carriageworks. A name on everybody's lips? Amrita Hepi.

The Bundjalung dancer and Ngāpuhi woman is set to premiere her solo performance piece Rinse at this year's festival, with various sessions across four days. At a time where extinction feels imminent, through Rinse Hepi interrogates "what is it about the beginning that remains intoxicating?"

Ahead of her performances at Liveworks, RUSSH caught up with Amrita Hepi. Below, she discusses impossible beginnings and the most daring things she's ever done.


What do you wish more people knew about you?

That I'm actually 176cm tall. 


What’s your first memory of dance and movement?

Figuring out how to play my mum's CDs and dancing on a blue rug at an early age. Watching my little sister stand up and bounce up and down in a high chair as a baby and thinking: "she is going to fall/she is dancing". 


What can Rinse show us about the fascination, almost fetishisation, of beginnings?

Loss is a big part of beginnings. 


amrita hepi liveworks


You’ve spoken of the body as a point of archive, memory, dance and resistance. How does this translate through your work Rinse?

Rinse uses accumulation as a device – it's trying to dance impossible beginnings such as: the start of the universe, the whole canon of western art history, third wave feminism, Blak dance history from this country... And the impossibility of totally dancing those things gives this work its specificity – you can see the archive from which I'm pulling from in order to illustrate this. Even if you can't name it, it's paradoxically clear. I like that dance creates the space for this kind of imagery. 


Can you tell me a little bit about the score for Rinse, and how you came to select it for this piece?

Sometimes the choreographic score is on top of the text, sometimes the movement or score is three steps behind and catches up, other times the movement interrupts the words. It had to be at a set pace that remains focused but still surprising for myself and the audience (I hope). The score develops a little bit out of logistics and placement but also from a lot of dancing, improvisation, laughing and error. 


amrita hepi liveworks


What is the most daring thing you’ve ever done?

Drove someone's manual Ferrari up the road to get cigarettes without a license and without really knowing how to drive. Moved overseas. Lied to a customs officer and then cried. This work. Sparring in kung fu at 15 without a chest guard (my sternum broke). Telling someone that I had loved that I loved them again. 


When you’re feeling tired and rundown, how do you care for yourself?

Long phone calls. Saying out loud to people, "I am tired and rundown. Pls help."


What is inspiring you and your world at the moment?

Hanif Abdurraqib. Being able to live between cities. The sun! When it's out. The impossibility of a "new beginning". Marlene Dumas. Surfing.

Catch Amrita Hepi's performance of Rinse for Liveworks 2022 at Carriageworks with sessions between October 27-30.

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