What moves you? How do you move? These are the underlying questions dancer, choreographer, and activist Amrita Hepi is asking when she invites you to A Call To Dance at Campbell Arcade. Through a yarn, or a stroll, the individualised workshops aim to uncover a dance move that is uniquely your own.
Be prepared. When you’ve followed the salmon pink subway tiles down into Campbell Arcade and Amrita Hepi is greeting you with a wide and bright smile, you might experience breathlessness. This woman is beautiful! And that enigmatic presence that people talk about – oh my golly, Hepi has it.
So as much as she is delighted to meet you, be prepared. My breathlessness erupted with fidgeting and stammering that was derailed again when stepping up into her A Call To Dance studio. One of a series of display cases, the space is decked out with red shag-pile carpet, a tasselled tissue-paper curtain, and a multicoloured laser ball. I feel like we could be in an Amsterdam prostitute window.
Hepi wears red and black floral Mao-like pajamas and for a moment I’m a confused – until I look into her eyes and the world stops still. I’m looking beyond external beauty and am reminded that she is not here to seduce me.
We sit on fold-out chairs and Hepi acknowledges the traditional owners of the country we sit within – in this underground monument to commuting of the past. Again, the sleeziness of the carpet and laser ball dominate – yes, this is a challenging experience.
From a couple of casual questions about heritage and a bit of a chat about dance authenticity, Hepi somehow snatches a moment from my life in the 90’s. A time when Fat Boy Slim’s ‘Funk Soul Brother’ had me loving my disco moves. What I didn’t know at the time was that my lip-synching ‘funk’s so rubber’ was all so wrong, and my loose limbs, like those of an inflatable airdancer advertising stuff outside of shops, had no place in the song.
Standing back to watch Hepi translate my move, I see the elegant ballet training unravel and then deconstruct until her being has morphed into my daggy try hard dancing. I laugh and laugh. Which is okay, ‘cause she’s laughing too – laughing with the happiness I used to feel back in the day when it was me owning those moves.
When I leave on my heart-filled high I want to know more about Hepi, everything about Hepi. Here’s a piece of happiness to share: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_lxSt5qUzSg.
And now, I just have to wait until 5-9pm on Sunday 14 May 2017, at the North Melbourne Meat Market, where Hepi will present the total of her borrowed expressions in a dance that celebrates Melbourne and its people. I can’t wait!