The final presentation on the QL2 Dance 2019 calendar, On Course provides a unique opportunity for students who are currently on full time study in universities around Australia, and New Zealand, the opportunity to choreograph, collaborate and perform new short works.
This year participating choreographers came from the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA), the Victorian College of the Arts (VCA), the New Zealand School of Dance (NZSD), the Academy of Music and Performing Arts (AMPA) and the Sydney Dance Company Pre-Professional Year (PPY) and worked with fellow tertiary students as well as some of the senior Quantum Leapers to create original works.
Many of the participants had been inspired to pursue further contemporary dance studies as a result of their involvement with Quantum Leap, and its various programs, during their formative years. But for others it was their first taste of this program, which this year was directed by Alison Plevey, founder and Artistic Director of Australian Dance Party, who together with Steve Gow, a member of Australian Dance Party, also provided professional artistic mentorship for the participants.
The task for the emerging choreographers was to create an original dance work to be performed for three performances before paying audiences. The participants were encouraged by their mentors not to concern themselves with creating the ‘best’ work, but to take full advantage of this opportunity to step outside their individual comfort zones, draw on the new skills learnt during their studies so far, but to experiment and take risks. A challenge which the participants embraced with admirable energy, creativity and also admirably, attention to detail.
With only space for six full rehearsals of each work during an intense two week rehearsal period, with the choreographers responsible for rehearsing their dancers, organising schedules, sourcing costumes, choosing music and coordinating lighting plots, uneven results may have been expected.
However it says much for the commitment, energy and creativity of the young participants, both choreographers and dancers, as well as their mentors, that the works which resulted provided such a stimulating evening of dance.
Each work had its particular interest. Where some choreographers managed to achieve polished unison work, others impressed with the clarity of the movement they chose to express their themes.
One such work was a solo work, Free as a Bird, devised and danced by Marcel Cole, currently majoring in contemporary dance at NZSD. It commenced excitingly with Cole dancing an expansive, bravura classical ballet solo from the ballet, La Bayadere.
A change of lighting suddenly transported the audience to a dance studio where Cole is discovered at a ballet barre, berating himself with existential questions as he repeatedly fell to the floor while failing to execute difficult dance steps. It was an arresting work, brilliantly performed.
Also particularly impressive was the polished performance Caspar IIshner was able to achieve with his work for eight dancers, entitled Eye to Eye. Also studying at NZSD, Ilshner produced a remarkably cohesive work exploring questions of human communication through confidently arranged unison choreography to a score which he composed himself.
Otto Kosok, now in his second year at NZSD, kept the audience intrigued with his cleverly devised work, Pushing Up Daisies, an ambitious work also for eight dancers, inspired by Wolf Eribruch’s Duck, Death and the Tulip, in which Caspar IIshner portrayed a mysterious man with a suitcase, appearing to have power over life or death.
Having just finished her first year at WAAPA, Ruby Ballantyne, one of several former QL2 alumni in this year’s program, drew guffaws from the audience with her delightfully quirky duo, My Roommate is a Very Heavy Sleeper, exploring conscious and subconscious states, which she performed with Maddy Bowman to an amusing soundscape, which she co-composed with Lorien Allen.
Propagating blue Bindweed – a lovely work by Amelia Vanzwol (VCA) for a quartet of dancers costumed in pristine white boiler-suits; Just Breath, sophisticatingly choreographed by Lara Darling (WAAPA) in which her four dancers were costumed attractively in black, explored energy use; and Tensegrity for which Karlia Cook (WAAPA) employed pulsing movements for her five dancers to express ideas of community interaction.
I was the angel in the poem you wrote by Mia Tuco, who is majoring in acting at VCA, in which she incorporated shadows and coloured lights and an interesting choreographic repertoire for her five dancers to interpret the cyclical nature of life; together with two interesting short dance films by Gabriel Sinclair and Jason Pearce, both at VCA, all provided a tantalising glimpse into directions being explored by young emerging dance makers in their efforts to express often complicated concepts through the language of dance.
Bravo to QL2 Dance for maintaining this important initiative, now in its thirteenth year.
QL2 Dance: On Course 2019
QL2 Theatre – Gorman House Arts Centre, 55 Ainslie Avenue, Braddon (Canberra)
Performances: 14 and 15 December 2019
Image: Eye to Eye – photo by Andrew Sirkorski / Art Atelier
Review: Bill Stephens OAM