On the Couch with Miranda Wheen

Miranda-Wheen-AAR-On-the-CouchWho is Miranda Wheen?
I’m a contemporary dancer, sometimes I’m a choreographer or director. I’m the parent of two small kids. I’m an independent dancer, so I bounce between a lot of different projects. At the moment I spend most of my time dancing with choreographer Martin Del Amo, Marrugeku (an intercultural dance company based in Sydney and Broome) and Western Sydney based Dance Makers Collective.

What would you do differently from what you do now?
I would throw all my energy into dance. Into doing it, watching it, thinking about it, sharing it. The pandemic has been pretty devastating for the dance industry and being at home with two little kids has made me long for the theatre/rehearsal studio. The kids love a bit of a dance party though, so that keeps me going.

Who inspires you and why?
Dalisa Pigram and Rachael Swain, the co-artistic directors of Marrugeku. They’re two female powerhouse directors who’ve been making dance and theatre for a long time. They’re interested in the messy and important work of collaboration and intercultural communication. They tackle big, burning questions with an uncompromising set of values. They create space in their rigorous work processes for family, difficult conversations, food, celebration and most importantly the unknown. They are truly impressive women, and I am very honoured to work with them.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
Get everyone moving more! Imagine a world where everyone was deeply connected to their bodies. If everyone knew how to move with ease for their own pleasure. If people were curious about and able to explore, with love, the potential of their own moving body.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
Camping in a patch of bush with some water to swim in. The weather is warm, but it’s not too hot. There’s animals, birds singing and a campfire to cook on. Perfect!

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
The Coast Walk in the Royal National Park just south of Sydney. It’s got everything, breathtaking ocean views, dense bush, waterholes, rock hopping, beaches and luscious picnic spots.

What are you currently reading?
Fathoms by Rebecca Giggs. It’s a non-fiction book about whales. I have an inexplicable fascination with whales. Leviathan, or the Whale by Philip Hoare, is another excellent one.

What are you currently listening to?
Despite not being a big consumer of popular culture I listen to a lot of popular culture podcasts, like Stop Everything and The Culture. I also get a lot out of listening to The Colour Cycle, produced by Diversity Arts Australia. I guess in popular culture and the arts you can see both the manifestation of, and resistance to, social inequity and racism, particularly here in Australia. These interest me both as an artist and a White Australian wanting to create tangible change in this country.

Happiness is?
A hot bath.

What does the future hold for you?
In the immediate future, I’m busy working on two shows for Sydney Festival 2022. Miragea ‘shared solo’ with choreographer Martin Del Amo commissioned by Campbelltown Arts Centre. It’s an epic, shimmering, shifting journey that oscillates between reality, fantasy, memory and illusion. It’s set to the music composition Piano and String Quartet by American avant-garde composer Morton Feldman, played live by pianist Sonya Lifschitz and the all-female Enigma Quartet. It’s quite a treat.

I’m also so pleased to be finally bringing Marrugeku’s much anticipated new work Jurrungu Ngan-ga (Straight Talk) to Sydney audiences at Carriageworks. It confronts Australia’s shameful fixation with incarceration and is a seriously potent piece of theatre.

Into the new year Dance Makers Collective, of which I am a founding member, is opening up it’s brand new rehearsal space in Western Sydney. We’re planning on filling it with as much dance activity as we can over the coming few years.

Miranda can be seen in Mirage – which will be presented at the Campbelltown Arts Centre: 7 – 15 January. Miranda can also be seen in Jurrungu Ngan-ga [Straight Talk] at Carriageworks: 27 – 29 January 2022. Both works are presented as part of the 2022 Sydney Festival.

Image: Miranda Wheen (supplied)