On a black stage, under the glow from a cluster of four white overhead lights, are three dancers standing close together, rocking a little as they sway from side to side.
There's a young man on the left with blonde hair brushed up from his forehead and a small beard. There's a young woman on the right with her brown hair parted in the centre and worn half-up, half down. The young woman in the centre is standing slightly in front of the other two, and her light-brown, side-parted hair is pulled tightly back in a ponytail at the nape of her neck. All three barefoot dancers are wearing loose, square-cut midriff tops in a pale beige colour, and loose pants with a silver sheen that darkens towards the hemlines just above the ankles.
The three dancers continue to rock in unison, keeping their feet planted a little apart and their arms dangling at their sides, but twisting their torsos a little as they sway, and turning their heads from side to side while gazing down towards the floor. Their expressions are solemn.
After a while they raise their gazes slightly so that although their rhythmic rocking remains the same they're now staring not at the floor but straight ahead.
After about a minute they change their rocking motion slightly by crossing their right feet over their left and back again as they twist from side to side, and rather than letting their arms dangle they hold their left arms rigidly across their torsos, the elbows bent, and let the right arm sweep back and forth with their rocking bodies.
The back-and-forth motion becomes more pronounced, and the dancers travel a little while stepping to and fro so that they gradually spread out from each other. Their feet step increasingly further apart and their sweeping arms trace bigger and bigger arcs.
The three dancers change their move, unfolding both arms in front of them, then rotating their bodies before repeating the rocking motion with the unfolding arms.
The man on the left and the woman in the centre continue this sequence, with slight variations, while the dancer on the right, who has moved into the background, does her own dance, twirling slowly with waving arms while pivoting on one foot.
The two synchronised dancers stretch their arms up over their heads as they sway, and rock lightly on tiptoe from foot to foot. The background dancer continues to slowly rotate, pivoting on one foot, but her steps become wider and she starts to crouch a little at each turn.
The pair in front move their bodies and limbs sinuously, twirling lightly on their toes and rocking back and forth as well as side to side. They reach first to one side and then the other, while behind them the lone dancer winds her body up and down from a crouching position to being upright with her arms extended above her head.
The two at the front step from side to side, alternately unfolding their joined arms or sweeping their right arms in broad arcs.
They travel a little until the winding and unwinding dancer behind them is directly between them, then all three dancers again move in unison. They all dip down and wind up again, rotating their extended arms above their heads as they turn their bodies.
Then the two women spin away on the right, where they continue the repetitive dipping and twining upwards, while the man crouches low and gradually lowers himself onto the floor as if in slow motion.
The women move across the stage behind him, returning from the dipping and twining routine to stepping from side to side with arms alternately unfolding or extended.
The man sprawls slowly across the floor, dragging himself along on one bent arm, then he pushes the back of his body up in the air while keeping his forearms on the ground with his head bent over them.
The women at the back dance lightly around each other, arching their necks and arms backwards and then forwards, and holding opposing arms outstretched alongside each other as they spin around a central point.
The man raises himself onto one knee and then stands, reaching one arm out in front of him in a supplicating gesture.
The women wave their arms in graceful curves as they circle each other, then they spin side by as though hanging by one curved arm from the ceiling.
The man stands almost motionless, his bent arms held in front of him in a kind of fighting stance with his hands in front of his face slowly curling into fists.
The women roll their heads and shoulders and then dip deeply to one side and step lightly from foot to foot with their arms billowing around them.
They stretch up, dip down and then twirl like ballerinas on one lightly hopping foot, their arms outstretched. As they continue to dip down and up, with gently waving arms, the man remains frozen like a statue with his fists raised in front of his face.
The women hop their way from foot to foot in a rollicking motion back towards the man, then they both adopt his same standing pose with raised hands.
All three dancers raise themselves on tiptoe in unison, then kick their right legs behind them and droop their bodies forward.
The dancer slightly backstage of the other two runs out from between them and sprints gracefully around them in wide circles as they collapse and lie prone side by side on the floor, their arms splayed out on either side of them.
The lone dancer stops running and winds her body down towards the floor and up again. She rocks from foot to foot, then spins into a sitting position and onto all fours. She lifts one bent leg and one arm while balancing on the other two limbs.
As she twines her body around, with one leg held off the ground, the man and woman peel themselves off the floor and the man sits in a relaxed pose while the woman's movements echo those of the lone dancer. She lifts both legs off the ground and spins slowly on her buttocks.
The man sprawls to one side, taking his weight on one leg and one arm, while the dancer apart from the pair adopts the relaxed seated pose. She watches the other two writhing gently on the floor: on all fours, on their sides and on their backs.
After a moment she too lies back down, but she lifts her body and legs off the ground in a kind of headstand while balancing on her shoulders and upper back. The man does the same, but the woman closest to him continues to roll her body across the ground and pivot on her buttocks with her legs raised.
The man and woman doing headstands are towards the back of the stage while the other woman is sitting cross-legged towards the front, sweeping her right arm around her in a broad circle.
The two at the back lower their balanced bodies, and she lies spreadeagled on the right, facing the ceiling, while he gets up and walks across from the left to join her.
The woman at the front sprawls onto the floor, lying face-up, then arches her back up off the ground and raises one bent leg and one bent arm in the air.
The man at the back lies inline with the spreadeagled body of the woman at the back, with his head between her thighs. He lifts her legs to rest on his shoulders, then raises them up towards the ceiling and spreads them wide.
While the woman at the front peels her back off the ground and turns over onto all fours, the man brings the other woman's legs back together and rests them on his shoulders again, lying either side of his head.
As the woman in front slides her body around, pivoting on her hands, the woman at the back crosses her legs and moves them both to the right of the man's head. He lifts them and crosses them the other way.
The man rotates his body so that he's now lying at right angles to the woman, her legs stretched over his neck.
The woman in front balances on one hand and one leg, arcing her other limbs up towards the ceiling.
The man lifts the legs of the woman lying across him and the dancer in front spins her seated body to face them, crossing her limbs over each other before lying down.
The woman at the back links her arms behind her reclining head and lets her legs fall again across the neck of the man lying at right angles to her, but he blocks their fall with his hands before letting them lie across his neck. She moves them onto his chest.
The woman at the front rolls and writhes her body across the ground.
At the back, the woman reclining with her legs across the man's chest speaks aloud.
WOMAN: Is this Sally?
He lifts his head off the ground to look at her.
WOMAN: Can we turn the music down?
He keeps his head raised, facing her, but she keeps staring at the ceiling.
WOMAN: Is this Sally?
He slowly rolls towards her and she readjusts her legs so their resting on his side. The woman a little apart from them is back up on all fours.
MAN: Oh yeah, she came here to stretch out her blow-dry. I'm trying to understand how you can stretch out your blow-dry.
He extends his limbs while rolling onto his front, and the woman moves her legs onto his back.
MAN: It doesn't make sense, can anyone really stretch out their blow-dry?
He pushes off the ground and she rolls off him.
WOMAN: You've just got to think that you can.
She curls her legs over his back again, pinning him down, and he flattens himself on the floor.
MAN: What if it doesn't matter to me?
The lone dancer rolls gracefully from all fours onto her back and then onto all fours again.
MAN: Did Sally even care?
He rolls onto his back with the woman's legs still pinning him down across his middle. She crosses her arms over her chest, and her body slides with him when he rolls over onto his front.
WOMAN: No, Sally just had to do it. She's fine.
MAN: She's dead!
She smiles. He raises himself onto his elbows. The woman dancing alone peels herself off the floor and sprawls out again with her limbs in various configurations.
MAN: Like, what if she didn't care about the structure of her blow-dry? Could it not have been so important?
He rolls over again, propelling the woman draped over him into a seated position, her torso hunched forward and her arms still crossed over her chest.
WOMAN: Sally didn't leave anything except the structure of her blow-dry in a good state.
He sits up too and she flops sideways. He crawls around her on all fours.
WOMAN: Ask me another one.
MAN: I only multiplied my personal power by five.
She gets up and crawls too, and he collapses onto his back.
WOMAN: That's not much time.
He raises his fists in front of him and she rolls into a seated position with her legs extended and her arms reaching above her.
MAN: Ask me another one.
She twists up onto her knees, then surges her body down like a breaking wave while speaking.
WOMAN: I tried to transport into a state of bliss and wander into the dining room in a daze.
She gets up, spins around, and sits back on the floor with her legs extended. He lowers his fists and rests his linked hands on his belly.
MAN: I thought of that one but I haven't tried it yet.
He looks at her lowering her torso backwards to the ground.
WOMAN: Do it for Sally.
He sits up abruptly.
MAN: For Sally?
Nearby, the lone dancer is standing now, slowly winding her body and limbs around.
WOMAN: Like, FOR Sally!
He hunches down on all fours and she lies on her back, facing the ceiling.
MAN: I'm serving Sally.
She lifts her head.
WOMAN: Like, FOR Sally.
She gets up and kneels close beside him, looking down at him.
WOMAN: Because she isn't here any more.
The woman dancing nearby arches backwards, balancing on one foot.
MAN: I'm making an offering to Sally in the dining room.
He bows his head and she bows hers so that the tops of their heads are touching.
WOMAN: Right. Just remember she isn't here any more.
They both shuffle on all fours, the tops of their heads pushing against each other. He puts one hand on her shoulder to steady himself while extending his left leg off the ground.
MAN: Well, I'm in the dining room and Sally is obviously not here.
She reaches out to stroke the floor beneath his raised torso.
WOMAN: I know. I told you she's not here.
He moves around beside her, nestling his head into the crook of her neck, and they sway together on all fours. The woman dancing alone has lowered herself onto her knees.
WOMAN: How does this circle end anyway?
MAN: Just stop.
He lowers his body onto one elbow and she backs away on all fours.
WOMAN: I told you to stop and you didn't.
MAN: You can just stop.
He looks at her but she turns her head to the side.
WOMAN: Yep, OK.
She gets up and walks into the shadow at the edge of the pool of light.
WOMAN: Um, yeah I tried that one, but I guess you can try.
She stretches sideways and he looks up at her from a reclining position on his back.
MAN: I can do it.
She turns slowly, bobbing down and stretching up.
MAN: That one's not very good.
WOMAN: Well, I think it's good to just do.
He gets up in stages.
MAN: It says, "The process is continuing."
She twirls towards him and they rotate slowly side-by-side, dipping down and stretching up again.
WOMAN: Okay. Hang on.
They twine and twist around each other without touching, their loose clothing billowing with their fluid movements.
As she repeatedly crouches and dips low, he flits around behind her and holds her by her left shoulder and right thigh. They bend forward together, then she rolls out from under him and he steps forward, reaching upwards.
She skirts him with jerky movements while he dangles as though hanging by one arm.
They dance towards and away from one another back to where the lone dancer is balanced on one leg, slowly twining her body around.
The dancing pair stands close together, she resting one hand on his head while circling him, and behind them the lone dancer twists her body first one way and then the other.
The pair separates, bobbing down and up as they travel past the woman dancing behind them and then reunite, with him bending low behind her and holding her around the waist.
He cranes his neck to look around her body and she leans sideways to rest on his bent torso. Behind them, the woman twists her body energetically back and forth as though suspended from a twisted string.
The resting pair abruptly springs upright and they jig around as though stepping on hot coals. They briefly hold hands while skipping around behind the lone dancer in the centre.
The dancer in the centre rocks back and forth on legs planted wide apart, her right arm drawing a wide arc around her.
The dancing pair skips in unison towards the back, crossing one leg in front of the other, but she keeps dancing all the way off the stage and into the wings while he starts to shuffle backwards, his hips swinging, towards the dancer in the centre stepping from foot to foot.
He stands facing the back with his hands linked behind his head, then slowly starts to rock in the same rhythm as the woman in the centre moving from side to side.
As he rocks he gradually turns to face the front, then makes a more pronounced movement from side to side that echoes the woman beside him. He lowers his arms to dangle at his sides, then sweeps his right arm around him in an arc, exactly like the woman is doing.
They move in unison, swaying and twisting their torsos as they step from side to side, and turning their heads in both directions to match the twisting movement of their bodies.
They bring their arms closer to their bodies instead of sweeping them outwards, and their wide steps become smaller and closer together.
Gradually their rocking from side to side becomes less pronounced, more and more subtle, until they're standing on the spot as they were at the beginning, their bodies rocking slightly as they sway gently from side to side.
Slow fade to black.
For Sally is an opening; a means to sculpt time. It ties us together, in a realm of nothingness. It is decaying. It stretches, warps the present. It is a meditation on the afterlife, painfully aware. It encounters innocence and beauty. It is empty.
A vignette by David Eagleman speculates that in the afterlife we will re-experience the duration of our life in qualitative groupings, e.g. seventy-seven hours of being confused, two hundred days showering, one year watching television. This work contemplates groupings that are less tangible; moments and encounters we are less conscious of experiencing.
Bachelor of Fine Arts (Dance), 2015
Performed by: Tra Mi Dinh, Luke Fryer, Emma Riches
Costume design: Helene Froisland
Sound design: Matthew Zambon