Us and All of This, a city-wide dance event, opens as part of the Frame Dance Biennial

In a series of workshops, the group was broken up into smaller units and encouraged to talk about movement and how it felt; They then performed something they had devised for the main group. “Every little performance by the groups has been edited and they are now part of the performance too, [so] they really strengthened us.”

Homework was given so people could practice movements at home. Prato and three of her friends “are going to do a flash mob in one of the courthouses in Clifton Hill before our rehearsal.”

Robert Lee Davis says this is the year of saying yes.

Robert Lee Davis says this is the year of saying yes.Credit:Simon Schlueter

“I’m curious to see if the bystanders think it’s lightning and want to join in. [Zink] got us so totally immersed in the dance moves, it’s beautiful. It’s really fun to have so many young teachers with us. They move between us and they embellish details, they keep us all in the same frame of mind.

“The work that everyone does is just amazing and so much fun,” says Prato. “When you get to be my age, you do what you want and you do it with passion and you live in the moment.”

Robert Lee Davis made a pact with himself this year – 2023 would be the year to say yes. The 60-year-old visual artist and art teacher is also there us and all that.

“This is my year of trying everything. Every time a new opportunity catches my interest, I try to explore that,” he says, adding that the disruption to art during the Covid lockdown has pushed him to seize the moment more.

Davis was amazed at what the group was able to accomplish—and how impactful the experience was. “I don’t know where they pulled all these people from, it’s like they were hidden in a Buddhist temple, they floated down from the clouds,” he says, laughing. “There’s this one guy who says, ‘Remember to touch this earth and rise with your breath.’

Rehearsals for us and all that.

Rehearsals for us and all that.Credit:Ian Laidlaw

“I’ve never experienced anything like this in dancing – I hope I’m not the only one who feels like this. When we talk about it, it’s a state of wonder, a section is called that, and you look at your hands moving around the room and it almost brings you to tears because you can’t believe you’ve missed the simplicity the movement, the appreciation of your body, in connection with the earth and the movement – the winds, the sounds, the birds, all of that.

“That freedom and that spirit of spontaneity, that essence of creative explosion, that’s what I love about what we’re doing with this troupe.”

Davis, who is from Philadelphia and has lived in Australia since 2011, says that every culture has dance and ceremony, but in western culture this is often forgotten.

“Our bodies were designed to move, not sit at a desk… to lift and carry, a constant state of energized action, so this movement translated into dance is another way to fill that need we than people have.

Susana Le is a freestyle dancer.

Susana Le is a freestyle dancer.Credit:Simon Schlueter

“Music should calm us down, stimulate us, excite us; it brings back a memory and when you apply that with movement it seals that gap or that longing that we have inside. That’s what it does for me,” he says.

Davis learned to dance on 1, 2, 3 in classic mode, but it’s not like that. “It’s very intuitive, much slower, more contemplative movements, little subtleties in hand gestures and neck movements that make you think about why I’m practicing what I’m doing. Each section is given a specific name: Forgiveness, Receiving, Giving. You go into these different scenarios feeling, where is that coming from?”

The movements and music are almost meditative, he says, comparing the sound to work by Philip Glass and Arvo Part. “[You] feel your oneness with everyone… You can sit in this space with this movement. You don’t know how powerful it is until you sit and remember what you just did and how it made you feel. Then, my goodness, that’s what it feels like to be one with life!”


41-year-old Susana Le works as a dentist, but is also a dedicated, self-taught dancer. She dances with a freestyle troupe called FRQNCY, who often perform in front of the Melbourne Museum, the QV building in the city and sometimes in the suburbs such as Monash University’s Clayton campus.

“The way we move is influenced by the people around us, our circle, the music and the streets of Melbourne,” she says.

As a child of Vietnamese refugees, Le was part of a dance group at university 20 years ago, but stopped when she had a family. During the 2020 lockdown, she resumed dancing and did many classes online. “It was really healthy for me back then and I never stopped. [It’s a] Sweet spot, I can’t help but groove.”

Le enjoys dancing in such an iconic part of Melbourne. “I love the fact that it’s in a beautiful architectural place; I want to move through architecture that inspires,” she says. “The whole process is really healing for me.”

The fact that everyone involved comes from such different backgrounds adds another element. “You’d think that with people so different, it would get messy, but that’s not the case at all, we feel very together in our differences,” says Le. “I hope that the actual day of the performance shows the feeling that movement can be a narrative experience for anyone at any time in their lives.

“Somewhere in your growing up, that permission [to dance] slips and you feel like you have to hold on to it. The liberation of dance is like medicine in your hands,” she says. “In some of these sessions I feel a catharsis, tears often run down my face, a connection develops. I’m sure I’m not the only person doing this, we should reconnect with our inner child at any age.”

us and all that is March 11th at the Arts Center Melbourne; Bunjil Place, Narre Warren, March 25th and 26th; and Geelong Arts Centre, April 2.

A cultural guide to going out and making love in the city. Sign up for our Culture Fix newsletter Here. Us and All of This, a city-wide dance event, opens as part of the Frame Dance Biennial

Jaclyn Diaz

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