Taking the ‘Critical Path’ to new choreographic heights

By Linda Badger.

Dance Informa’s Linda Badger met with Margie Medlin, Director of Critical Path, and Helen Martin, Program Manager, to discuss Critical Path and what it has to offer the dance industry…

What is Critical Path?

Critical Path is an organisation which aims to give experienced choreographers a space, and potentially funding, to develop new choreographic work, concepts, and research. 

Many established independent choreographers and dancers in NSW are quietly developing their craft in the beautiful Rushcutters Bay facility that houses Critical Path. The Critical Path facilities include an archive room where valuable resources are being accumulated from artists’ findings. These archives are accessible to the general public as well as the dance education students at the University of New South Wales, which is closely associated with Critical Path. There is also a massive, beautiful studio for choreographers to craft their work, and editing/internet facilities for research and development of work.

Critical Path is led by the state and federal government, and through Dance at Arts NSW the organisation was set up in 2005 to create opportunities and a community for independent dance in NSW. It is initiated by Arts NSW in association with the Australia Council. The emphasis at Critical Path is mostly on NSW artists but the organisation is looking for different ways to make a national hub and for NSW choreographers to be able to meet with national and international artists, making it an international program as well. 

There is a Responsive program, Mentoring program and Curated program. The Responsive program, the core business of the organisation, focuses on creating research opportunities for NSW artists and assists artists with funding.

The Mentoring program gives artists opportunities to put their research into practice as well as general professional development, working with other organisations like Performance Space, Western Sydney Dance Action, Campbelltown Arts and Dance House in Melbourne. Critical Path even has close ties with Strut Dance in WA, and is always looking for ways to connect with the national scene. The organisation also looks at finding residency exchange programs with organisations in the UK, Europe, and South East Asia. It continually creates different opportunities for local artists and works with indigenous communities, both here and in New Zealand, in cross cultural collaboration.

The Curated program offers choreographers a program of laboratories, masterclasses and workshops.

How can dancers get involved?

This year Critical Path has started a new workshop based program which runs for a period of 3 weeks. To become involved in a project, or one of these workshops, you must be a dancer with some professional experience. 

There are also many ways the more experienced or professional artist can be involved, whether it is in research, creating new work and exploring completely new concepts, or being a dancer taking part in another artist’s project. 

Critical Path has been designed so that mid-career artists can explore new things, and completely direct the way they pursue their creative exploration, what kind of output it has, and how it may be shared and compiled for future reference. 

The organisation shows an artist’s work in a ‘sharing’, in whatever manner the artist believes is the most appropriate way to expose their findings to an audience.  Some sharings are open to the public, and some are by invite only.  It really depends on the artist’s preference. 

With such a unique and encompassing program, there is so much on offer at Critical Path. If you’re an experienced choreographer who would like to further explore work, apply for funding, or develop a strong network, Critical Path is where it is at. They are at the cutting edge of supporting NSW dance artists. As Helen Martin, Program Manager says, “there was a hole for people who had professional experience to develop their work. So we are here to fill that hole that was becoming very obvious. We can be the support that people mid-career need to have”. 

For more information visit www.criticalpath.org.au

Photo by Heidrun Lohr.

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