Australian Dance Reviews

By the Light of the Moon

Deep Water
Busselton Beach Festival

January 15 2011

By Nina Levy, Communications Manager Ausdance WA

With the stage on the sand just metres from the shoreline and the moon rising over the ocean, the setting for Deep Water was idyllic.  A contemporary dance performance created and performed in Busselton, Western Australia, Deep Water involved 16 local dancers ranging in age from 11 to over 40 years of age and was performed as part of the 2011 Busselton Beach Festival in January.  Directed by Busselton’s Jenni Harding, with support from Perth-based choreographer Danielle Micich, Deep Water explored memories of Geographe Bay.  The audience of over 2600 was enveloped by the theme. Seated on the sand or on the sandstone walls, the tang of salt in the air, the gentle breeze, the sound of the water and the silvery moonlight on the sea ensured that Deep Water was a total sensory experience.  The dancers seemed to swim across the stage, diving and frolicking as though surfing invisible waves.

This hauntingly beautiful dance work is the first of four community contemporary dance performances to be created and performed in WA regional towns between January and April this year.  These performances are happening as a result of a pilot project created by Ausdance WA’s Annette Carmichael, entitled Future Landings: Four Town Dance Network.  The Future Landings project is designed to promote contemporary dance in regional WA, firstly by involving members of the local community in contemporary dance as participants and performers, and secondly by presenting free contemporary dance performances to the general public at high profile arts events.

One of the key features of the project is the use of local talent, based on the premise that people are more likely to attend a contemporary dance performance if they have a personal connection to those involved.   Deep Water’s Artistic Director, Jenni Harding, is not just Busselton-based but was the first person to teach contemporary dance in Busselton, and so has already played an important role in promoting the dance style locally.  Talking to Harding before the show, it is clear that being involved with the performance has ignited interest in contemporary dance both amongst performers and the general public.  “Seeing the dancers really enjoy themselves is great,” she says with a smile, “When we were doing the dress run we had an impromptu audience and you could see the dancers were feeding off that.  We got some beautiful applause.”  Harding is also pleased with the response of the adult participants, some of whom had little to no prior performance experience. “The adults getting so much out of it is fantastic to see,” she remarks. 

Speaking with the dancers after the show, there is a sense of excitement about the project and what it has brought to Busselton.  “I loved the setting and dancing on the beach.  It was good to have a different experience down here,” comments one dancer. “You don’t often get such an intensive experience in the country.”

For the Future Landings team, the sight of a couple of thousand members of the general public watching a contemporary dance performance was exhilarating and a wonderful way to kick off the four performances.

For information about the remaining three performances in Bunbury (February), Albany (March) and Denmark (April) go to www.futurelandings.com.au

Photos: Dale Watson

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