fLiNG Physical Theatre: wondrous and infinite creative possibilities

By Rain Francis of Dance Informa.

On the beautiful south coast of New South Wales, big things are happening in youth dance. fLiNG Physical Theatre, based in Bega, is a professionally supported youth dance company dedicated to inspiring young people through original contemporary dance performance.

The company trains in dance, theatre and gymnastics, and has performed at both local venues such as skate parks and schools, and out of town theatres in Wollongong and Sydney. They have even toured internationally, with performances at the Singapore International Youth Festival in 2012.

Led by artistic director Lee Pemberton and associate director Gabrielle Rose, fLiNG provides crucial training and experience for developing dancers, helping to prepare them for the professional world. Alumni have gone on to train at the country’s most respected training organisations, and graduated into companies such as Chunky Move and Opera Australia.

In 2014, an Internship programme was launched, creating a place where emerging artists could develop their creative skills whilst working with a regionally based company. “The work at fLiNG provides the chance to develop teaching methods in contemporary performance and the work in a regional community requires an ability to work independently while being interdependent to the company and our membership base,” says Lee Pemberton.

“There is also a huge benefit for the company to attract new, young and fresh artists into our midst. They offer a fresh approach to performance making, and being in close range to the age group of the company members, they speak the same language.”

fLiNG Physical Theatre. Photo courtesy of fLiNG.

One such artist, who has recently completed an internship at fLiNG, is Bicky Lee. Originally from New Zealand, Bicky is a Victorian College of the Arts graduate and now a freelance performer and creator based in Melbourne. She was kind enough to share this reflection with Dance Informa on her experience with fLiNG.

I came straight from Melbourne – surrounded by many friends in their 20s and bustling city folk – to Bega, where children and teenagers surrounded me. This sudden change in my environment, coupled with my weekly visits to Tathra Beach, brought back so many memories of my own childhood. I have such vivid and fond memories of dance classes in my early years: just like fLiNG-ers, I too had a large (freezing) stadium where I threw myself into gym matts twice a week and a small hall where I learnt ballet steps to a recorded piano – and I loved it! The experiences that I had in those spaces are a valuable part of my being, both as a dancer and as an individual.

These reflections have influenced my teaching of both the fLiNG Company, yfLiNG, and the community classes that fLiNG offer. I was able to observe the imaginative and inspiring teaching methods of Lee Pemberton and Gabrielle Rose, who also coached me and enabled me to grow as a teacher. I have had the daily realisation that while my movement is known to me, it may be a completely new concept to the children around me. This led me to understand the amazing opportunity that dance teachers have: to show children the wondrous and infinite creative possibilities of their body.

It has been so enlightening to learn how to teach movement to children in a way that really speaks to them and inspires them.  The fLiNG dancers are all so enthusiastic and imaginative; it has been a pleasure to dance with them. 

fLiNG Physical Theatre. Photo courtesy of fLiNG.

I was intimidated at first by the prospect of running a creative process for fLiNG’s newest project  ‘Music Project’ (working title) as this project is based around the experience of living in the Bega Valley and the stories of the people in this community – and I had never been to Bega prior to this internship. However, when I started listening to the stories of the fLiNG cast and members of the Bega Valley community, I realized (among other things) that to many of the people here, seeing a giant spider or a kangaroo on your way to school is part of the lifestyle here – it is normal. The fact that I am an outsider coming in to hear these stories gave me an appreciation and perspective that was uniquely my own. I was genuinely excited and intrigued by stories that the fLiNG cast initially thought were not very interesting and this lead to further excitement and enjoyment for all. Within this process of sharing I found that I too had a story to tell within the fLiNG community. I have had the great honor of interviewing some members of the Bega Valley Community and these interviews have been very informative and greatly inspiring. 

I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here and I am so thankful to Lee and Gabbi for the generosity of time and spirit that they provide everyday.

“The Music Project fundamentally is about the Bega Valley and the people who live there, past and present,” explains Lee Pemberton. “Bicky has been using the Bega Museum as a resource and starting point, using the stories and images to ignite a movement response, which has been transferred to the company members. Additionally, Bicky has led the company in the creation of their own performative story, integrating the spoken word and movement material.”

For more information on fLiNG, head to: www.flingphysicaltheatre.com.au

To keep up with Bicky’s progress as an artist, check out: http://bickyleedanceartist.tumblr.com

Photos: fLiNG Physical Theatre. Photo courtesy of fLiNG.

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