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Cold War - Warm Heart - Hot Jazz
Family secrets exposed, unruly Balkan-jazz and a bit of cutting edge theatre – what's not to love about the latest offering from Melbourne's own Miss Jugoslavia Runner Up Tania Bosak?
Miss Jugoslavia and The Barefoot Orchestra is a composed theatre work that made waves when it premièred at MONA FOMA in January this year, and now it will debut in Melbourne at Fortyfive Downstairs from October 29 to November 10.
Tania Bosak is a Churchill Fellow, diverse percussionist, stand-up comedian, great vocalist, band leader for the Shljivovitz Orchestra and this work follows on from the success of her Melbourne Fringe Festival sell-out hit Supper at Stanley's. It is inspired by Tania Bosak's father's decision to defect from the former Jugoslavia to Belgium in 1958, and tackles themes of escape, displacement and resettlement that will resonate strongly with an Australian audience in today's political climate.
But it is not all doom, gloom and earnest musical endeavour. Miss Jugoslavia and The Barefoot Orchestra has been described as a cross between a crazy Balkan nightclub and a score for a David Lynch dream narrative. Here is a glimpse into the fertile mind of Tania Bosak, musician, comedian, singer and former Miss Jugoslavia Runner Up:
Looking at your CV is enough to make the rest of us feel like under-achievers. Where do you get your energy from?
My energy is driven by deadlines, and yes of course, a passion for all that I do. I scare me sometimes too! But to be honest the only way I can keep up with myself is through my TaKeTiNa rhythm/meditation work. The practice has taught me to work simultaneously and efficiently in a few directions with clarity, space, and without taking myself too seriously… and okay, I don't have kids.
You have an eclectic range of interests; from TaKeTiNa to hypnosis. Is there a common thread?
It is immensely satisfying to have asked the hard questions around why I work as an artist, and I do feel clear that there is a deeper purpose. But it's my varied interests that have led me to really understanding what this actually is. I guess my overriding interest is art for transformation, so the common threads for me are to do with authenticity, presence and growth, and how we inspire these things in ourselves and others.
What is so irresistible to you about percussion and rhythm?
Being in rhythm is a form of active meditation for me, and it has the potential to be grounding, adrenalising and deeply nourishing. I am not so good at sitting still, but I do need to stop sometimes, or at least get out of my own head. It's the perfect getaway from my own compulsive thinking and doing, and I don't need to fly long distance to get there.
How has your heritage and your father's experiences of displacement informed your work?
My heritage and my family stories are quite left of field, abundant with more than one piano accordion, spies, wholemeal flour mills, secret defection stories, walking barefoot in the snow, and feeding your cow before feeding your kids… so you could feed your kids! The stakes were high, and I believe my parents brought us up as though they were still in that time. They were also a bit too good at hiding the Easter eggs which we discovered by Christmas… in tears. All of these aspects as well as the overriding theme of what it means to escape through music, literally and metaphorically, have informed not only my work but made sense of my family and me.
What can Melbourne audiences expect from your latest show Miss Jugoslavia and the Barefoot Orchestra?
A work that is stylistically surprising, moving, funny, and unpredictable, even for us!
Audiences will also be treated to the most outrageously talented group of musicians who continue to blow my mind every time I share the stage with them.