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The latest with Australian Dance Theatre AD Garry Stewart and dancer Matte Roffe

ADT's 'The Beginning of Nature'. Photo by Chris Herzfeld, Camlight Productions.
ADT's 'The Beginning of Nature'. Photo by Chris Herzfeld, Camlight Productions.

Australian Dance Theatre (ADT)’s 2017 season is rich with premieres of new work, site-specific work, touring of repertoire and workshops for young artists. Dance Informa catches up with Artistic Director Garry Stewart and dancer Matte Roffe to find out more about the company and what’s next in store.

ADT's 'The Beginning of Nature'. Photo by Chris Herzfeld, Camlight Productions.

ADT’s ‘The Beginning of Nature’. Photo by Chris Herzfeld, Camlight Productions.

Stewart describes ADT as “Australia’s oldest contemporary dance company. We also have an extraordinary ensemble of dancers who are outstanding by any measure. They train in various disciplines, including contemporary dance techniques, breaking (breakdance), yoga, ballet and circus skills. We also include mindfulness meditation sessions in our training program. It is probably our unique movement vocabulary that ADT is best known for.”

Roffe, who joined the company in 2012, says he first become involved with ADT as a student. “I was in my third year of study at the New Zealand School of Dance and was invited to spend a week with the company,” he recalls. “After a very physical but inspiring week, Garry approached me and invited me back for another secondment. I, of course, said yes and returned in three weeks, when I was fortunate enough to gain a contract into the company!”

ADT’s ‘The Beginning of Nature’. Photo by Chris Herzfeld, Camlight Productions.

Roffe agrees with Stewart that the physicality of ADT is one the greatest things about the company. “The repertoire and the mixed techniques we use and train in continually innovate what contemporary dance is,” he says. “We train in contemporary and ballet, of course, but also a number of other forms such as breakdancing, tumbling and circus skill. Not only do these disciplines make us extremely versatile, it also gives us a huge array of possibilities when it comes to creating material for our new works.”

For Roffe, the highlight of the 2017 season will be performing and touring a work that investigates identity and the body. “I am very excited to be a part of the Australian tour of Be Your Self,” he shares. “It’s one of my favourite shows, and tours are always a highlight. Also, there is a South American tour in the pipelines, and that would be an absolute dream.”

Be Your Self has already had successful seasons in Europe and will tour to Townsville, Lismore, Toowoomba, Melbourne, Frankston and Mildura in 2017.

ADT's 'The Beginning of Nature'. Photo by Chris Herzfeld, Camlight Productions.

ADT’s ‘The Beginning of Nature’. Photo by Chris Herzfeld, Camlight Productions.

Stewart says he is driven to explore philosophical or ethical questions in his works. “Usually my works are a reflection of my current personal fascination – a philosophical question or an area of thought that I’ve been researching and reading about,” he explains. “We are making a number of works over the next few years under the heading of ‘The Nature Series’. These works all connect to my interest in nature, ecosystem processes, as well as the climatic and topographical forces at work on the planet.”

As well as exploring philosophical questions, Stewart sometimes makes works that are responses to a particular site or a context. “My new work, Doppelgänger, is a result of being asked to create something for the Versus Rodin exhibition at the Art Gallery of South Australia,” he says. “So in considering the work of the sculptor Rodin and the concerns of the exhibition, I arrived at the premise for Doppelgänger. It’s a bespoke work for that particular context and space.”

ADT's 'The Beginning of Nature'. Photo by Chris Herzfeld, Camlight Productions.

ADT’s ‘The Beginning of Nature’. Photo by Chris Herzfeld, Camlight Productions.

Great professional development opportunities and support for emerging artists come through in all aspects of the ADT program. Stewart elaborates, “We have an extensive secondment program for young dancers who are in full time training. It’s an opportunity for them to spend time with our dancers in an authentic rehearsal/work context. We also have the ADT Youth Ensemble. Each year, we choose around 14 young dancers between the ages of 14-18 who form the youth ensemble for that year. We also have plenty of open rehearsals for members of the public as well as school groups. You can subscribe to our newsletter to keep you up to date with our activities or check out our social media outlets such as Facebook and Instagram.”

To book a show, find out about workshops or otherwise learn more about Australian Dance Theatre, visit www.adt.org.au.

By Tamara Searle of Dance Informa.

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