Melbourne’s Underground Celebrating Choreographers and Community

By Rain Francis.

Collaboration The Project strives to provide Australian dancers, choreographers and artists with performance and creative opportunities on Australian shores. The Melbourne based company produces and stages several original works each year, both for its main company and its youth company, Project Y.

Earlier this year, Collaboration launched a regular event called Underground – a platform for emerging and independent choreographers and companies to present their work. Held at Revolt, a unique arts venue in Melbourne’s north, Underground brings together the vibrant and dedicated dance community. From hip hop to contemporary and tap to ballroom, artists across all genres unite to support each other and share their passions. I spoke to Collaboration’s Artistic Director, Paul Malek about this new dance event.

Why did you start Underground?
Underground has been in my thought processes now for the past three years and we at Collaboration are so pleased that we can finally have the support to hold such an event. There is so much creative talent here in Melbourne, without a tremendous number of platforms to showcase and celebrate it. Underground gives just that. It’s a chance for dancers and choreographers to regularly showcase their work, which keeps the industry motivated, moving forward, intertwining genres and making new creative partnerships.

UndergroundWhat’s your ultimate vision for Underground?
I’d like it to be so successful and the need for the platform heightened to a level where we can hold it on a more regular basis, rotating acts and showcasing a plethora of different choreographers throughout a yearly period.

How has it been received so far?
The reception has been mind-blowing. I personally have made so many new friends and future colleagues through this avenue of performance. The audiences have been brilliant and the camaraderie is exactly what the dance industry should be. No pressure, just pure and unrelenting dance celebration.

Are you going to continue to run it every season?
I do love that we are currently holding it seasonally. We have delved into Underground Autumn and recently had a wonderful night at Underground Winter. Personally, I cannot wait for Spring. Being seasonal, there’s a different vibe each time. It’s not themed as yet, but that is what we will be looking to work on in the future.

What’s been the biggest challenge in organising it?
At the moment the only challenge has been how to better the event each time. We’re looking forward to how we can improve and make it the number one dance night in Melbourne. All the acts and choreographers have been so understanding, organised and passionate in helping, so it really has just been such an enjoyable experience so far.

What is the best thing about Underground?
The camaraderie, hands down. All egos are left at the door. No-one is judging – it is not a competition. Pure dance takes over for one day and everyone is there for one reason and one reason only – to celebrate this wonderful world that we live in.

How important is the venue?
The venue is the key. Revolt Productions in Kensington is absolutely PERFECT for this event. The support we get from the team there is amazing and everyone who has been so far cannot stop raving about what a great venue it is. I definitely recommend that everyone hits up their website, and checks it out.

You also run another industry night called Immersed, with the third one coming up in September. How will that differ from Underground?
Immersed Melbourne Dance Industry Night
is a theatrical event; one for the whole family, and lovers of dance. It is where we can all unite in a packed theatre, with high quality performances from around Melbourne. Underground is an 18+ event with an earthier feel, while Immersed has the gala, dress-to-your-best, champagne kind of vibe.

What’s the plan for Immersed?
is stepping up a gear. 20 acts will grace the National Theatre stage in what I feel will be the biggest Immersed yet. We have six full time performing arts schools confirmed so far and some of the best independent dance companies in Melbourne, including youth companies. We also have a competition running where one lucky dance school will get to perform. People can head to to find out all the details. It is going to go off!

How can people get involved in Underground?
People can like our Facebook page, for all updates, including Underground Spring applications, which will be opening in September.

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