'This American Life' Is Just A Part Of Anna Bass' Life

23 June 2016 | 4:00 pm | Danielle O'Donohue

"There's kind of a battle to live and breathe and survive and succeed here."

American radio host Ira Glass has spent the last 20 years sharing with his audience all kinds of anecdotes, confessions and insights into the lives of ordinary people on his show This American Life.

Broadcast weekly in the US on public radio and globally as a podcast, This American Life's popularity has provided Glass with a rapt and enthusiastic Australian audience.

Cue Three Acts, Two Dancers, One Radio Host, a show Glass has been performing around the US and is bringing to Australia to be performed in Sydney and Melbourne in July.

While the show will feature Glass talking about the colourful and compelling characters and stories that he spins into radio gold each week, the show will also feature two New York dancers, Monica Barnes and Anna Bass. Because nothing says public radio quite like a contemporary dance piece, right?

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Anna Bass and Monica Barnes may not tell their stories in quite the same way as This American Life's radio show, but their unique way of presenting contemporary dance make the pair a good fit for Glass's unique theatre show.

"I've been a long-time listener," Bass says. "Monica and I are both huge fans. I started listening in college.

"We have a constant thread where we can read each other's minds and we're really breathing at the same pace sometimes."

"It's been a part of our lives for a really long time. It's kind of mind-blowing to think about how much a part of my life the show actually is now but we still listen on a weekly basis. It's very funny. We still listen to Ira in our homes. Then we see him on stage. It's been such a pleasure to perform this show. Neither one of us has ever had an experience like this."

Bass and Barnes have worked together for over a decade, so spending weekends hitting the road for the last two years to take this show around most of the United States (Bass is fairly certain a recent performance in Alabama was their 58th) has provided the pair with more inspiration for their other dance work.

"We are constantly talking about the creative process," Bass explains. "I think for Monica and Ira, they make work in a very similar way. It's been really inspiring to have ongoing conversations about making work. We've been so inspired by how he makes his radio shows."

Based in New York, Bass laughs when asked if her 13 years working alongside Barnes has given them a sixth sense around each other.

"We have a constant thread where we can read each other's minds and we're really breathing at the same pace sometimes. It's pretty remarkable. I try and be as fearless as possible with her. I think that's the only way to be."

But it's not just her creative partner that pushes Bass to be fearless. The dancer says the city of New York is as much a creative force as anything else she draws on.

"There's something about the way this city can fight you back. There's kind of a battle to live and breathe and survive and succeed here. It takes a certain amount of grit which feeds into the real sense of humanness and individual-ness that make their way into every piece we make."