Foot work and Foresight with Dancenorth

contemporary dance by Dancenorth Australia
Dancenorth's company dancers have been challenged to consider the future of contemporary dance in Tomorrow Makers. PHOTO: Amber Haines

What does the future of dance look like?

A reboot of the robot? Twerk 2.0? Or perhaps something a little more promising?

Dancenorth’s latest instalment in their Tomorrow Makers series seeks to explore the future of contemporary dance; not by gazing into a crystal ball for a glimpse of what might be, but by taking it upon themselves (as they do so well) to forge the future firsthand.

Tomorrow Makers 2 is series of short contemporary dance pieces created by members of Dancenorth’s ensemble – Georgia Rudd, Jenni Large, Samantha Hines, Mason Kelly and Jack Ziesing – and curated by Dancenorth Associate Artistic Director Amber Haines.

Georgia said the shift from dancer to choreographer had challenged her and her fellow makers to imagine the possibilities of what lies ahead for dance, performance and human connection.

“There’s a real variety of pieces on offer because there’s five different people exploring their individual interests,” said Georgia.

“That’s exciting for a viewer because if one thing doesn’t really float your boat, something else will. I think the works will stimulate your mind and your engagement with contemporary dance in a way that a full-length work would do differently.”

There seems to be a thread of enquiry that speaks to the complex and often enigmatic aspects of human perception and experience. Bodies oscillate between being people and abstract forms in space. A perception of what is tangible and intangible, what is familiar and ambiguous is in a constant state of flux.  hese worlds that the dancers have created are a mix of metaphorical antidotes and statements of revelation.

– Amber Haines

Dancenorth’s Georgia Rudd. PHOTO: Amber Haines

In producing their own work, members of Dancenorth’s ensemble are turning their hands to more than movement to consider other production elements more deeply including the creative concept, lighting, sound and design.

“You get a greater understanding of creative process,” said Georgia. “Then you can develop your skill-set and apply this knowledge when you’re in other positions within the process.”

In addition to the ‘obvious’ production elements that need to be considered when producing a work, the Tomorrow Makers have also turned their attention to the viewer.

“Amber has asked us to really consider the audience as well as what we’re making and to work with both of those thoughts,” said Jenni.

“In my work, there is an attempt to flip your understanding of who’s watching whom, or who’s in control or where the attention’s going.

“Some of the other dancers have been working with changing where the audience is in space, so maybe they’re not in the seating bank, they’re in the performance space; or there’s a more casual relationship with the performer than having seating bank and performance on stage,” Jenni said.

“It’s not full on participation, but audiences will be asked to move around and view from different angles.”

The performer/audience relationship has been a recurrent thread in many of Dancenorth’s recent works, and one that Artistic Director Kyle Page said is well-facilitated by Townsville’s casual attitude to performance. 

“Audiences are less co-defined in Townsville as they might be in a big city, so we have a chance to have a dialogue with them and to take work out to beautiful outdoor locations like we did with Noise or Tectonic or Dance Tropics Dance,” said Kyle.

“Then when we’re back in a theatre, we can bring some of that essence of dismantling some of the traditional structures of presentation, which creates a nice access point for people to come and enjoy the work of the company.”

For the Dancenorth team, past, present and future works are focused on drawing audiences in and empowering them to be part of the process.

“Contemporary dance, for some, can be less accessible than other artforms but in actual fact you don’t have to dig very deep and you don’t have to ask many questions to realise that the beauty of contemporary dance is that it’s entirely subjective,” said Kyle.

Jenni Large from Dancenorth. PHOTO: Amber Haines

“Whatever you bring to the experience of viewing these performances is absolutely right. We really look to cultivate a sense of awareness and a sense of agency within our audiences. In Townsville – particularly over the last few seasons – we’ve had the opportunity to connect and convey that idea with people and it feels as though that creates a really liberating sense of freedom and also validation in the way that they view contemporary dance moving forward.”

Dancenorth will present Tomorrow Makers 2 on 7 – 9 November 2019.

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