Jack and another dancer striking the opening pose of a dance performance. They're in a dark room beneath a cluster of four white overhead lights, and the female dancer is in the centre while Jack is balled up on the floor on the right. They're both wearing dark-tinted wraparound glasses and black lace-up shoes with black socks. The woman is in a shiny black, industrial-style leotard that zips up to the high neckline, and Jack is shirtless, wearing black combat pants. She has dyed blond hair pulled tightly back at the nape of her neck. His head is shaven but he has a moustache.
Standing in the centre, her legs spread wide and bent at the knees, the woman is frozen with her arms extended behind her in a downward curve. Her shiny black leotard ripples a little as she breathes. Her expression is solemn, her stance strong.
Flexing her taut muscles a little, she slowly stretches her head backwards over the convex curve of her back, then she straightens up and drops her hips slightly, her feet still planted wide apart.
She very slowly arches backwards, stretching the shiny black skin of her leotard taut as her torso curves back to almost meet her legs.
She spreads her arms wide, holding her hands just above the floor.
Lightly touching the floor behind her splayed feet, she gently raises first her arms and then her torso again, slowly straightening up to resume her strong stance in the centre of the room.
She lifts her right arm and sweeps it sharply forward as though catching something in mid-air, then she looks at her hand as she draws it in towards her middle.
Writhing her torso sinuously, she dips backwards again, grabbing the backs of her thighs, then walks forward while still arching back.
She straightens abruptly and checks the sole of her left shoe, then flicks her foot forward and turns away.
She returns to the centre and stops abruptly, facing away, with Jack still balled up on the right, unmoving.
She arches her torso back until the palms of her hands touch the floor, then she walks backwards on her hands and feet with her body arcing upwards in a steep curve.
Stopping, she rolls to her right, switching briefly onto all fours the right way up, then rolling again into her backwards arch.
She repeats the action, ending up arched backwards on all fours and slowly sinking towards the ground.
Her head, arms and shoulders gently contact the ground, with the rest of her body melting downwards to the floor, where she lies with her arms outstretched and her knees bent.
As she gently writhes on the floor, he begins to unfurl from his coiled position on the right. He slowly rises to his knees, but still with his shaven head hunched forward over his bent shoulders.
He lifts his head, staring straight ahead through his dark lenses while keeping his torso hunched over.
He lowers his head again, touching his crown to the ground, then lifting his body to form a sharp peak in the middle with his head and his toes resting on the floor.
She continues to writhe on her back as he extends his arms, places his hands on the floor and lifts his legs high off the ground, his feet at the tip of his vertical body pointing upwards.
He slowly bends his body as he lowers his legs, forming a taut 'S' shape while balancing on his head. He balls up his legs beneath his chest as he brings them back to the ground.
She's sliding bit by bit across the floor towards him as she writhes on her back.
He suddenly extends his arms from his balled-up position and uses them to launch himself forward, his legs spread wide and his upturned face looking at her on the ground ahead of him.
He scuttles backwards, using his head and hands to push him along, then he backflips into a crouch and presses the crown of his head into the floor again.
He walks himself forward on his head, hands, and widely-splayed feet.
When he's close to her, he rocks himself from side to side while still resting on all fours splayed wide.
He slowly drags his torso up from the floor and straightens up, his muscles rippling.
He spreads his arms wide and rolls his shoulders, then dips forward to put his palms on the floor again.
She peels her back off the floor and flops forward, getting to her feet as he jumps like a frog towards her.
While she arches back again onto her hands and feet, he rolls onto his back and jumps his whole body off the floor.
They both roll on the floor, then she spins on her stomach and gets up while he pushes himself up using his head and hands.
Dancing in unison, they spin side by side and walk themselves back and forth using their hands to pivot on.
They undulate their bodies with arms dangling, then cartwheel with curving legs into a resting pose, she hugging her knees and he standing with legs spread.
He circles around behind her and stands at her back, placing his right hand palm-down on the top of her head.
She remains bunched up with her hands pulling her knees to her chest, but she raises her face to gaze up at him through her dark lenses.
He bends forward, reaching down either side of her torso to grip her hips, and she reaches up and slides her hands along his body to hold the small of his back.
As he lifts her by the hips she arcs her body backwards, then gripping his hips she lifts her feet off the ground and over their heads, straddling his face with her thighs as she brings her knees to rest on his shoulders.
He releases his grip on her hips and supports her at the waist as she pushes her torso upwards, balancing her levelled body above him like a plank.
As he holds her by the waist she brings her arms forward and places her palms on the floor, standing on her hands as he releases her, then lowering her face and shoulders to the floor while keeping her legs upright and her toes pointed at the ceiling.
He stands, gripping her ankles and bending them backwards over her shoulders pressed into the floor.
He leans forward with his torso between her bent knees, then grips her wrists and lifts her body in its backward arch off the ground.
He turns her up to face the ceiling, the backs of her thighs resting against the fronts of his.
With his hands supporting her ribs, he raises her arched body above him and sets it down on his head, her arms and legs extended on either side and stretching down towards the floor.
He slowly turns in circles on the spot, keeping her arched body pivoting on his head.
He lowers her onto his right shoulder, then rolls her down his arm like he's unfurling a carpet, and she sprawls on the floor, her limbs floppy.
Standing astride her head, he lifts her with his hands linked under her back, hauling her over his right shoulder - again, like a rolled carpet - only now she's flopping forwards not arched backwards.
He transfers her over his head to his left shoulder, then flips her down towards the floor and spins her limp form around him in a circle.
He places her on her knees and twirls away.
She grabs him by the ankles and he lifts her around the middle to hook her legs over his shoulders, then he arches sharply backwards to place her feet on the ground and she straightens up, clamping his head between her thighs.
She walks backwards, taking him with her, then he ducks out from beneath her and holds her around the middle, lifting her off the ground and spinning her rigid form around him.
He sets her on her feet and they collapse side by side, rolling in unison across the floor before straightening up.
She runs to him and they grip each other around the middle, then he dips her backwards, rolling her gently down his legs onto the floor and then lifting her by the back of the head into a seated position.
He steps over her head, kicking his legs wide, then she rolls into a headstand with her feet either side of his neck, and he grabs her by the thighs and spins her around like a plank, her arms outstretched and pointing at the ground.
He lowers her to the floor and she gets up to join him in facing away, feet planted wide apart.
He bends forward and she back, then they both put their palms on the floor and turn themselves around.
They roll their torsos in a backward circle, then bending forward they move sideways across the floor, using their hands to propel themselves along.
Undulating their bodies, they straighten up in unison and lightly twirl across the floor, then he arcs backwards while she drops onto her shoulders and rolls behind him.
They both bend over on all fours, then push themselves upright and roll fluidly across the floor into a drooping upright position.
They collapse backwards onto the floor, then he rolls back onto all fours and pushes off with his head while shuffling backwards.
He backflips onto his feet then balances again on his head and hands while shuffling across the floor. She walks backwards on all fours towards him, her body steeply arched.
They align their curved bodies on all fours, then roll together to one side.
She rolls back again and spins on her stomach while he jumps his legs forward and back, pivoting on his hands.
He does a headstand while she twirls away into a crouching roll, then she undulates her body back across the floor towards him as he lowers his legs, balling them up against his chest.
She stands upright in front of his balled-up body and he slowly straightens up his torso in line with her standing figure.
Kneeled at her back, he presses against her, touching his forehead to her spine.
She slowly arches back as he bows his head forward, until their bodies form a kind of heart shape with her on her feet bending backward and him on his knees bending forward. Her shoulders are resting on the back of his neck and the back of her head is supported by his bent shoulders.
They remain in their combined arch for a long moment before he slowly straightens up, pushing her body gently back into its upright stance.
He remains on his knees, his body pressed close behind hers.
Fade to black.
Jack in a studio with a female dancer, both wearing tinted glasses. He's in an olive-green t-shirt and black pants, and she's in a black singlet and black pants.
Then Jack's sitting alone on a stage with a mirrored backdrop.
JACK: Before I was doing dancing, I was doing a lot of martial arts, a lot of judo, I did rock climbing, I did a lot of different physical activities and I think that kind of brought me into dance and I think dance gave me a way to kind of express everything that I had kind of learnt.
Jack in a dojo, wearing a white martial-arts uniform, his curly brown hair pulled back from his moustached face. In the dojo, Jack faces another martial artist and they bow to each other. Jack has a black belt and his opponent's belt is blue.
In a more philosophical way I feel like dance has kind of embodied all the parts of my life.
Jack grappling with his judo partner intercut with Jack moving sinuously with his dance partner in the studio. In both scenarios, the participants twine their arms as they move around each other.
I definitely feel like my practice is influenced by judo because it's something that I've done for over 10 years and the principles of it, the discipline, the flow in it, I guess the arts in the martial is...it's really exciting for me to bring that into contemporary dance.
Jack's judo partner flips him onto the mat.
Jack and his dance partner slide across the studio floor, onto their fronts.
I went to Europe and I was there to audition and land a job and that was going to be it and I ended up going to the auditions, getting a lot of no's and that kind of bummed me out for a bit and I had a couple of days to myself.
Jack peering through a wire fence at night with lights glowing from a street on the far side. He's a in a parking garage, and he dances across the empty parking spaces in a fine cloud of mist.
I decided to go to this carpark. I just started dancing and I just danced for, like, hours.
Wearing the tight, olive-green t-shirt with black pants and shoes, Jack flings himself through the air as he moves across the car park.
I had this really amazing revelation, that dancing was a lot bigger.
Pausing in his dance, Jack shakes out his sweaty hair and smooths it back from his wide-eyed face.
It's something that's really, like, personal and it's something that is existing inside you that you can tap into at any point, no matter where you are or what you're doing.
Overlaying footage of Michelangelo's sculputre of David in a gallery is text that reads, 'In 1501 Michelangelo created a vision of physical human perfection. In 2019 Jack Riley was given a commission to do the same. He had no knowledge of the commission's origin.'
Jack and his dance partner in their studio.
When I was delivered the brief I was actually really relieved and really excited.
Jack and a crowd of other young artists at a briefing. A bearded man in a jacket is addressing them while referring to a screen at the front of the room displaying information about the brief.
I felt like it was something that was connected to things that I want to pursue and things that I want to unravel in my life but also my art as well.
Jack walking down a city street at night, wearing headphones.
What does perfection actually mean, and does it exist? And questioning those things and I came to conclusions that there's an impossibility around perfection, that it doesn't actually exist. It's more of a paradox.
In slow motion, Jack looks around him as he walks.
On one hand, I don't think it's actually possible to live, you know, this perfect or be perfect.
Jack and his dance partner, wearing tinted glasses, move their limbs in unison.
But sometimes like the ugly or the grotesque or the visceral or the guttural is something that is really beautiful and almost perfect.
Jack instructing his dance partner, who's sitting on the floor looking up at him.
It's almost a classical kind of arm but it can go in any direction or it can really warp out and twist and be really gross and disgusting, but it's still got the quality of that beautiful gesture to it.
A young woman dances on a stage, wearing only black briefs and black lace-up shoes with black socks. Her long brown hair dangles over her face and naked torso as she moves on all fours.
Yeah, I'm really interested in the body. Choosing to work with nudity was about stripping away those external things that we put onto ourselves...
Standing now, the dancer rolls her shoulders and writhes around in the light glinting down onto the dark stage.
..and to show the body or a person in a vulnerable state, because I feel like I want to show that vulnerability is beautiful and that being vulnerable maybe is very close to being perfect.
Bending low, the dancer dangles her arms towards her feet.
Jack instructs the dancer in a rehearsal space.
For me, what's interesting is like the humanness and the human reactions to things.
It's a bit of a, just like a natural kind of organic process of just, like, allowing ideas to kind of like just come up without judging them first and then once you try things out and you experiment and you fail or you succeed a little bit, then you can start crafting.
Sifting away, trying to find like that golden moment or that perfect moment that really moves you.
The dancer onstage again, crouching in the light and reaching out her right hand.
Jack smiles as he talks with the dancer.
Or it is important to enjoy that process because, like, you know that you're never going to reach this perfect ultimate work or perfect kind of state but pursuing it is almost, like, that's what's perfect.
The semi-nude dancer continues her routine onstage.
Normally my performances feature nudity, but I have chosen to use costume to strip away identity and question masculinity and also femininity, to bring the work back to this ying and yang ideal.
Jack and the other dancer striking the opening pose of a dance performance. They're in a dark room beneath a cluster of four white overhead lights, and the female dancer is in the centre while Jack is balled up on the floor on the right. They're both wearing dark-tinted wraparound glasses and black lace-up shoes with black socks. The woman is in a shiny black, industrial-style leotard that zips up to the high neckline, and Jack is shirtless, wearing black combat pants.
Text overlays the dancers that reads '30 emerging artists responded to the themes of the world's most iconic commissions.'
'First commissions. Online gallery now open.'
Follow on Instagram: @jack_riley____
“Perfection is a paradox. One can only achieve a perfect or fulfilled state of being whilst in the pursuit of perfection.”
Jack proposes that human physical perfection is both implausible and achievable. Like in dance, it can be found in the visceral and raw struggle as one pursues the desire to be more than one’s self. So, to achieve perfection one must hold onto a duality between who they are and what they want to be.
Duplex is an expression of balance and paradox. It presents a male and female subject as they move through states of independence and physical connection. Their humanness purposely stripped back through a futuristic aesthetic, to allow ambiguity in the masculine and feminine qualities in their movements.
Bachelor of Fine Arts (Dance), 2016
Nikki Tarling - Dancer
Robert Downie - Musical Composition
Andrew Treloar - Costume Design