Dance News Australia

Australian Ballet dancers create exciting new company

By Rebecca Martin.

Human Abstract is the first work to be presented by JACK Productions, a new and exciting project-based dance company founded by emerging choreographer Lucas Jervies and three senior dancers from The Australian Ballet.

From a desire to produce innovative dance in Australia, Jervies, Robert Curran, Andrew Killian and Laura Tong founded JACK and launch the company with a season of dynamic classically based choreography. With Jervies at the creative helm, and guest performances from Australian Ballet dancers Danielle Rowe, Leanne Stojmenov, Kevin Jackson and international guest artist Sabina Perry from Canada, Human Abstract looks set to impress Australian audiences in June. 

Lucas studied dance at the Victorian College of the Arts Secondary School and the Australian Ballet School, graduating with Honours and joining the Australian Ballet in 1999. Looking to expand his knowledge of physicality, Lucas searched for further professional experience in diverse genres, dancing with Opera Australia, Dance Works Rotterdam and Scapino Ballet Rotterdam in the Netherlands, amongst others, where he has worked extensively with innovative choreographers Georg Reischl and Marco Goecke over the last five years.

Lucas Jervies. Photo by Lynette Wills

A choreographic interest has lived with Lucas from the beginning of his dance training. In recent years he was invited to create for The Australian Ballet’s 2005 BodyTorque program and in 2007 he was asked to present a work in Korzo Theatre’s (Den Haag) Spring Awakening Festival. In 2008 and 2009 Scapino Ballet also invited Lucas to create works for Twools, their summer dance festival, and in 2009 he was invited to create for the Stuttgart Ballet’s Noverre Society.

Taking a short break from rehearsals, Lucas spoke with Dance Informa’s Rebecca Martin about his career and the premiere of Human Abstract by JACK Productions.

Are you still dancing or is choreography consuming your time now?
“I have had a lucky and fun career, being in the right place at the right time, and bringing a little Aussie flavour to the table to liven things up has helped!

Living and working in Europe has taught me a lot about life and dance but has also made me appreciate where I come from. The foundation The Australian Ballet gave me was so beneficial and helped prepare me for my journey overseas, but now nearly 12 years on I have only three shows left as a dancer with Scapino Ballet and then I will focus all my time on choreography and JACK. I will dance perhaps one or two more times in the next year before I officially hang up the ballet shoes. Hopefully one of those times will be at home.”

Lucas is a choreographer in high demand with multiple projects in the works.
“I am making a work for Scapino’s Twools program for the third time (a non stop dance initiative for invited choreographers that happens annually), which will premiere in June. I was invited again for Noverre in Stuttgart this year, which premieres a week after Twools. So I am creating two projects at once, both on dancers from Scapino as I’m too busy to travel to Stuttgart to create. I will travel to Stuttgart straight after the Twools performances with three dancers. The day after Noverre I will fly home to start creating for Human Abstract, JACK’s first production. I’m busy but it’s very exciting.”

How was the experience of creating a work for Stuttgart Ballet’s Noverre Society last year?  That has been the starting point for many famous choreographers.
“It was wonderful to be involved with such a historic and important organisation. The lineage of choreographers to come out of Noverre is very overwhelming and made me very nervous but I was warmly welcomed and the piece was received with great enthusiasm. The experience was something I will remember forever. The dancers in Stuttgart are extremely talented and dedicated and I made some wonderful new friends. I can’t wait to go back this year!”

In the company’s blog Lucas writes about the challenge of swapping leotards for suits. 
“To step on the other side of the business has been challenging but rewarding. We really have taken control of all the decisions ourselves, which has been liberating. Robert and Laura are both completing a Bachelor of Business so they bring fresh knowledge to business structure and methods. They have been both students and teachers (for Andrew and me) at the same time. We have had some wonderful support and advice from friends and colleagues and we hope to set an example on the rewards of building your own platform and an environment for enriching possibility. The set up of the company began in August last year and our collaboration has continued to flourish with excitement as we mould the company’s profile and direction.”

Human Abstract is inspired by the dark and moving poem ‘The Human Abstract’ by William Blake. The poetic atmosphere of the work emerges from a conceptual exploration of a specific theme rather than formation of recognised steps and style. It’s supported by a beautiful electronic soundscape commissioned from young Hungarian artist Adam Ster.

JACK Productions will premiere Human Abstract from July 7th to 11th at CUB Malthouse, The Merlyn Theatre, Southbank, Melbourne.

Make sure you get your tickets!

For Australian Ballet subscribers call 1300 369 741
For general public call 03 9685 5111



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