‘In Walked Bud’ by
Davide Di Giovanni / Credit: Supplied

Movement is engrained in our heritage. It is the unspoken language of unapologetic expression and within each considered jeté, piqué and pirouette, there is a story to tell. In the inner-city of Sydney resides this very idealism, and harbouring the continuation of modern and contemporary movement is Sydney Dance Company. With alumni that boasts world-class talent, the organisation is a trailblazing community of creatives and this season, the company ushers in a fresh host of young choreographers. As lightly as they appear to walk, their movements are unstoppably explosive and encapsulating the very essence of intrinsic notions of life, the four athletes are becoming experts in their fields.

Entitled New Breed, the initiative made its debut in November 2014, supporting five emerging Australian choreographers through the commissioning and presentation of new dance work. Four sold out seasons in, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 ensued. This year is expected to be no different, and leading a new generation of choreographers is, Josh Mu, Lauren Langlois, Ariella Casu and Davide Di Giovanni.

‘Arise’ by Ariella Casu / Credit: Supplied

As the new breed lights the stage with exhilarating combinations and powerful waves of emotions – inspiration is drawn from the future, feelings, the grotesque and silence – it begs to ask the question: what would dance like if it were to represent the world’s chaos? As Season 3 is presented at Carriageworks from today, we posed the hypothesis to the four up-and-comers.

Lauren Langlois

Credit: Pedro Greig
GRAZIA: What is it about dance that drew you so naturally to transform the art practice into a career?

LL: I started dancing when I was 5 years old and continued training in tap, ballet, jazz and contemporary until I was 16. Around that age I decided to focus more on my school studies and took a break from dance. It wasn’t until I was 19 years old that I was drawn to it again, and I think that was mostly because I needed to perform and express myself. Dance is a beautiful, multi-layered art form that can span across a variety of genres. I’ve performed in works that are purely technical, I’ve had to learn tumbling and acrobatic skills, I’ve also orally presented a lot of text onstage. Dance can be abstract, comical, dramatic, silly, serious and poetic. I love the layers that I have found in dance and dance-making and look forward to learning more about myself and others in the process.

GRAZIA: As part of the ‘New Breed’ of choreographers, what do you hope to see change or evolve in dance, in the next 10 to 20 years?

“I would also like to see more gender equality in the arts. More female sound designers, more female choreographers, more female artistic directors.”

LL: Obviously more funding in dance research and performance practice. I think it is important that independent choreographers, dancers and performers are given more opportunities to practice their choreographic skills, to get their ideas out there and to be given the support they need. The role of the independent sector is to push the more mainstream companies to think outside the box and break the rules a little. If we only have mainstream companies getting funding to make large scale works, then we won’t have an ever-growing, ever-changing arts practice in Australia.

I would also like to see more gender equality in the arts. More female sound designers, more female choreographers, more female artistic directors. Women not only know how to be powerful, work hard and be leaders, but they know how to lead with empathy, compassion and grace.

GRAZIA: If you were to create a piece about the topic of our Australian political unrest, what would it look like?

LL: I don’t usually begin making work from a political perspective, but that’s not to say that my work isn’t political. I think the beauty of contemporary art is that there is room to dream ourselves into it and I think the best works of art are the ones that aren’t didactic. But if I had to choose a topic, I guess I could begin with the idea of instant gratification in our society; the race to get what we want straight away and the consequences this entails. Sometimes I feel like the time given to create art is not actually conducive to the process of making art.

Davide Di Giovanni

Credit: Pedro Greig
GRAZIA: What is it about dance that drew you so naturally to transform the art practice into a career?

DDG: When I was 15 I received a scholarship for a famous ballet/contemporary dance school in Italy. I accepted with the intention to get a job at the end. I held a bit of uncertainty – especially at that age everything was like a game. It took me a while before I realised I wanted to make my passion my job. It made sense to me when every day of your life you can share yourself with the world through your art, technique, passion, body and soul.

GRAZIA: As part the ‘New Breed’ of choreographers, what do you hope to see change or evolve in dance, in the next 10 to 20 years?

DDG: As both a choreographer of New Breed and a dancer in the next generation of the dance world, I believe that in order to create exceptional contemporary art or dance we must look back to history and the classics. As an Italian I’ve grown up studying a lot of classical art and languages such as Latin and ancient Greek. In my opinion so far, the most beautiful examples of the “new” is seeing the old from a different point of view.

I hope that for the future we will continue to be inspired by referencing the past and learn how to improve and emulate what was originally already superb.

GRAZIA: If you were to create a piece about the topic of refugee crisis, what would it look like?

“I’m often interested in shedding light on the less visible aspects of a topic. The one hidden in the little corner, can become powerful and all-consuming. It can reveal much more about the original theme of a dance work.”

DDG: It will feel dark and dramatic, but I don’t know if it will look that way. For certain, I would consider one of the great composers Chopin or Ravel as musical inspiration. Perhaps combine one of their emotive compositions with a nostalgic ocean sound, reminiscent of the unprotected oceanic travel of so many refugees. I’m often interested in shedding light on the less visible aspects of a topic. The one hidden in the little corner, can become powerful and all-consuming. It can reveal much more about the original theme of a dance work.

Josh Mu

Credit: Pedro Greig
GRAZIA: What is it about dance that drew you so naturally to transform the art practice into a career?

JM: Dance and the practice of movement in general for me is my tool to connect to my own sense of authenticity and to express myself without the reliance of words. Dance provides an avenue for lateral thinking, opportunity to be present and to be physically healthy. When I was a young teenage breakdancer, it was an amazing realisation to meet other male dancers who had made careers as performers. This opened my eyes to the possibility that I could actually do what I loved so much, and make a life and career out of it all at the same time.

GRAZIA: As part the ‘New Breed’ of choreographers, what do you hope to see change or evolve in dance, in the next 10 to 20 years?

“The world is currently in this exponential state of technological growth and with it comes a blanket of distraction and an over saturation of stimuli that can have negative consequences.”

JM: The world is currently in this exponential state of technological growth and with it comes a blanket of distraction and an over saturation of stimuli that can have negative consequences. Dance and live performance are on the opposite end of this spectrum, it is a lateral way of self expression connecting to society through the realness of the present moment. The change I would like to encourage is to improve awareness of this, the adoption of appreciation for live performance as a supplement to our current evolutionary climate. Creatively, the future holds an interesting interconnectedness for arts and technology.

I also believe it to be important that dancers are recognised and acknowledged as key creatives in collaborative rehearsal processes. Beyond their amazing athleticism they bring their own sense of artistry and imagination which is often vital to the outcome of the work. It’s exciting to consider what the future holds for dance!

GRAZIA: If you were to create a piece about the topic of climate gender diversity, what would it look like?

JM: Personally, I don’t believe creating a work about gender diversity using only my own voice is the best approach. I would first collaborate with a wide array of artists and individuals who are closely connected to this topic, perhaps collecting these discussions and interviews and using this as verbatim in the performance. It would be important to avoid any sense of bias and be as authentic as possible.

Ariella Casu

Credit: Pedro Greig
GRAZIA: What is it about dance that drew you so naturally to transform the art practice into a career?

AC: I found dance to be my most authentic form of expression. Growing up with my mum as a teacher we had a dance studio in my basement. I would go there and dance for hours wearing all of my mum’s costumes which were at the time, 3 times too big for me. My mother was the first to introduce me to the cool jazz music and choreography of Bob Fosse, that is where my love of Tap and Jazz began. If you look back at my childhood home footage, you can see I was dancing with far too much energy and enthusiasm compared with my peers on stage – it’s comical replaying it now.

GRAZIA: As part the ‘New Breed’ of choreographers, what do you hope to see change or evolve in dance, in the next 10 to 20 years?

AC: Every company develops in its own manner. This is great because every dancer can find their own place in the dance world. I think the best way to approach dance in the next few decades is to encourage dancers to learn from everyone and everywhere. To become stronger more capable dancers, it is vital to develop an international repertoire. I hope to see more reciprocal sharing of dance knowledge and practices being taught, performed and celebrated.

GRAZIA: If you were to create a piece about the topic of climate change, what would it look like?

“I would capture and express the urgency of attention our planet needs and contrast it with the current nonchalance, thoughtlessness and denial that some world leaders seem to possess.”

AC: Climate change is an important topic for me. Sustainable consumption of resources is a massive problem. If I were to interpret it in a choreography I would capture and express the urgency of attention our planet needs and contrast it with the current nonchalance, thoughtlessness and denial that some world leaders seem to possess.

Season Three: New Breed from Sydney Dance Company is showing now at Carriageworks from November 29 to December 7. For tickets and more information, visit the website here.

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