By Elle Evangelista of Dance Informa.
Over the past 20 years, the contemporary dance industry has seen a strong dominance in full-time companies based predominantly in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide.
All this is about to change as we welcome the emergence of a brand new dance company in Perth: the highly anticipated Contemporary Dance Company of Western Australia (CDCWA).
Since January 2015, the best elements of the now closed Buzz Dance Theatre and STEPS Youth Dance Company, have become part of the CDCWA. The company will consist of a Professional Ensemble and Junior and Youth Ensemble, launching their inaugural season officially in October 2015 at the helm of Artistic Director Raewyn Hill.
“I am both excited and privileged to be the CDCWA’s first Artistic Director. During the next six months, we will be focused on developing the artistic programme for our launch season and creating our community and education engagement programs for 2016. Our launch season will be programmed under the artistic philosophy of curating, commissioning and presenting to our audience world-class choreographers and dance works” says Hill.
The Contemporary Dance Company of Western Australia is assembling a Professional Ensemble of dancers who will perform a “unique and transformative main-house season of works for a range of audiences, encompassing existing and new company works in premium Perth venues, exciting new venues and on tour”, says Chairwoman of the CDCWA, Wendy Wise.
They will also provide “Open Corps” training in ballet and contemporary for youth dancers aged 8-16+ and an Education team which will support teachers and students through the national curriculum in dance and offer primary and secondary school performances and workshops using content from the adult programme.
Although the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts is based in Perth and produces up to 30 dance graduates per year, Perth notably has been absent in producing a contemporary dance company since the close of The Chrissie Parrott Dance Company in 1996. Perth has, however, sustained a youth dance company and a company aimed at producing works for young people which both closed to make way for CDCWA. Perth has also developed a strong independent dance community that will ideally benefit from the new awareness CDCWA brings to contemporary dance in Western Australia.
“The launch of the CDCWA capitalises on the strong foundations of innovative contemporary dance in the state. We have inherited an extraordinary legacy from Buzz Dance Theatre and STEPS Youth Dance Company. CDCWA aims to support the growing public awareness of contemporary dance and the sustainable foundation built through the work of The Future Moves initiative and the MoveMe promotional body over the last five or so years,” says Wise.
“We believe that the launch of the CDCWA heralds an exciting new phase of dance for the state. We aim to make a significant contribution to the development of the contemporary dance artform and to the national cultural environment. Fundamental to this is offering exciting new employment opportunities for dancers, choreographers, artists and arts managers,” says Wise.
However, times are tough for contemporary dance and smaller, or newer, companies sometimes struggle to compete with larger companies found over East or are subject to cuts in funding. The CDCWA believe they are in a prime position to begin a company in 2015 thanks to the already existing structures in place in Western Australia and their guaranteed financial support.
“The fact is Perth’s cultural landscape has transformed since 1996 [the close of The Chrissie Parrott Dance Company] and, during the last few years, The Future Moves initiative and the MoveMe promotional body have built a sustainable foundation for contemporary dance. As well, the extraordinary work of WAAPA, Link and STRUT have ensured a progressive and committed sector has continued to develop” says Wise. “We have secured committed funding from the DCA and backing from our founding supporters Margrete and Michael Chaney. This has enabled the company to make its entry with appropriate policies, systems, procedures and contractual arrangements in place and to develop its launch season beginning in October 2015. We look forward to working with other supporters in time.”
A common phrase heard when discussing the CDCWA in Western Australia is “highly anticipated” and the WA, and national dance community should indeed be so. “We are offering dancers and choreographers the opportunity to be part of a vibrant contemporary dance brand from its inception” says Wise. “We will bring to Perth audiences the very best dance makers, dancers and artists in the world. We are committed to supporting and training some of Australia’s finest dancers and providing opportunities for the sector to present their work on the national and international stage. We are looking forward to building partnerships with WAAPA, Link and STRUT and see this as an important part of the work we will be doing to support and develop the sector. It’s a chance not only to take-up an exciting employment opportunity, but also to gain international recognition as we develop the CDCWA into a leading Australian contemporary dance company.”
And when simply asked about the vision for CDCWA in five years time in 2020? “Our vision is to be recognised nationally and internationally as a bold and engaging producer and presenter of world-class contemporary dance” says Wise.
Aaron Beach CDCWA Executive Director simply sums it up by saying “We’re in the business of building a leading Australian contemporary dance company!”
Follow Contemporary Dance Company of WA on Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/The-Contemporary-Dance-Company-of-Western-Australia/1505550783060872.
Photo (top): Source: www.facebook.com/pages/The-Contemporary-Dance-Company-of-Western-Australia/1505550783060872