Since 2010, Expressions Dance Company (EDC) has partnered with Queensland University of Technology (QUT) to create opportunities for students and new graduates to gain professional experience in a contemporary dance company. EDC has a strong commitment to nurturing emerging artists, from its youth program that trains young artists, to secondments for students studying tertiary dance. EDC is also looking to pilot a youth dance company. The latest outcome for the partnership saw dancers Isabella Hood and Tiana Pinnell, honours students from QUT, join the cast from EDC for the development and presentation of Natalie Weir’s new work, Behind Closed Doors, this past May.
Hood says the opportunity came about when, “at the end of last year, during our graduating showcase at QUT, Natalie came in to watch one of our warmup classes and selected two dancers to join the company in the creative development and performances of Behind Closed Doors.”
She adds that EDC’s repertoire and style is familiar to her from many years of classes and watching the company perform. “Having taken part in several EDC Brisbane Contemporary Dance Intensive workshops during the past couple of years and being exposed to their repertoire, I’ve developed mind-body knowledge and awareness of the way the company moves, so I try to recall these sensations and qualities in my classes, in the hope that they become integrated in my way of moving. It’s also important to embrace your own creativity and instinctive impulses, which are unique to you, and these are the things that you can contribute to a company.”
Behind Closed Doors premiered at Queensland Performing Arts Centre in May. The Queensland Times commented on the performance, “The strength and athleticism of EDC’s dancers, as always, are first class, showing human fragility through powerfully emotive dance.”
“Everything about the process was just inspiring and eye-opening,” says Pinnell, now a recent QUT graduate. “What surprised me the most was actually how quickly the work came together. It was also interesting noting how character- and narrative-driven everything was. All the dancers did a whole heap of independent research to develop their character, and even most of the feedback and notes related to questioning about ‘Why are you doing that step?’, and ‘What is your intention behind doing so?'”
Pinnell describes performing with the company as the best experience of her life. “All the dancers are just so humble, and everyone creates such a happy and positive environment to work in and be around. Even when the unpredictable happens, everyone is just so professional in not letting stress get to them and works in an efficient and positive manner to get the work done.”
Hood believes that the experience with EDC working on Behind Closed Doors will definitely change her practice. “The hard work doesn’t stop when you graduate school or university. Instead of trying to improve your technique and show off what you can do, I feel like you have to search for something deep inside yourself – a reason you belong in that moment – so you can have presence in the room. I’m always looking for more creativity and innovation in the hope I can offer something new and different.”
Now that she has had her first professional experience, we asked Pinnell about what advice she would give to aspiring and emerging dancers. “Be open, gracious, and take advantage of every opportunity that arises around you,” she shares. “See and experience as much as you possibly can because every experience, both positive and negative, is helping you grow into the person and artist you aspire to be.”
We look forward to seeing more of these two dancers on our stages.
Expressions Dance Company will next present Mozart Airborne, in collaboration with Opera Queensland, 5 – 12 August, at Queensland Performing Arts Centre. For tickets and more information, visit www.qpac.com.au/event/edc_mozart_airborne_17.
By Tamara Searle of Dance Informa.