Wild Hearts youth company aims to foster the next generation of professional dancers

Twisted Element's 'Opus'. Photo courtesy of Twisted Element.
Twisted Element's 'Opus'. Photo courtesy of Twisted Element.

Angela Hamilton, director and founder of Sydney-based independent dance company Twisted Element, has made the exciting announcement of the commencement of Wild Hearts, an innovative youth company to be launched in 2018, which will push the boundaries of creativity once more. Hamilton, whose own dance journey has taken her to some of the most interesting creative places and projects globally, is passionate about passing on her knowledge and experience to the next generation. Dance Informa got to chat with Hamilton about this exciting new development.

As the founder and director of Twisted Element, which has been going strong for awhile now, can you tell us a bit about why you want to extend your artistic practice and begin the youth company, Wild Hearts?

“Since being a young dance student, to being in full-time training, to becoming a professional, I have witnessed an evolution in dance. When I was a student, the internet was a relatively new thing, and all we knew about the dance world was from the stories our teachers told us or reading our monthly mailed subscription to a dance magazine.

Wild Hearts. Photo by Andrew Appleton.

Wild Hearts. Photo by Andrew Appleton.

Back then, there was a strong message: to become a dancer, you have a one-in-a-million chance, and the meaning of a dancer was either being in an established company, a Broadway musical or backing Justin Timberlake. We weren’t really shown that there were other possibilities and paths to take. I think many dancers of my generation have struggled with breaking free from this mentality, as we have come from the old world but graduated into the new.

Through running Twisted Element, and seeing all the opportunities that have come to us over the years, I’ve learnt that in today’s artistic landscape, you need to create your own opportunities. There are endless directions dancers can take to find success. I would like to help guide young dancers to see that there are opportunities in abundance; they just need to be savvy, creative, innovative and have the right tools to access them.”

What is your vision for the company?

“My vision for Wild Hearts is to be at the forefront of cutting-edge contemporary dance, providing current, relevant and constantly evolving professional experiences for young dancers.”

What experiences would you like to give the company members?

“I want my Wild Hearts dancers to learn contemporary dance styles and genres that will be relevant to them once they enter the industry, with an emphasis on improvisation, choreographic and collaborative skills.

With our industry evolving at a faster velocity than seen previously, companies in the future will run on a completely different model to those seen today. Dancers will need other strong skill sets to contribute to the work of companies, such as marketing, business development, film and photography, graphic design, costume design. The Wild Hearts dancers will be encouraged to find and foster their other talents, which we will put into practice to create collaborative projects together.

Angela Hamilton. Photo by Tony Ryan.

Angela Hamilton. Photo by Tony Ryan.

Collaboration, in my opinion, is key to expanding dance audiences to the general public and lessening the exclusive nature of dance, which will help evolve the artform to be more accessable and appreciated by the general audience. There is more use of dance in mainstream advertising, film and experiential marketing now than ever. I will be sourcing opportunities for the dancers to collaborate and work with others.”

How do you see this company and the experience it will give it members as different from other youth companies?

“Wild Hearts will be giving dancers a unique experience to be mentored, not just in technique and performance, but they will be introduced to things that they are unlikely to experience anywhere else as a school-aged student. They will be a part of the choreographic process, required to actively contribute to conceptualising, and have the opportunity to contribute creatively to costume and set design. Ultimately, they will have the opportunity to perform in works set on unconventional stage settings such as immersive, site-specific and 360-degree audiences.”

What type of collaborative work do you plan to do with the company?

“I have have been discussing with certain other artists some exciting prospects, such as teaching the dancers to make their own electronic soundscapes. The idea of having the dancers make their own score and then devise their own choreographic work to it is very exciting! I have many connections with a vast array of unique and skilled artists in their own fields, whom I may bring in to collaborate with, such as musicians, designers, artists and writers and tech start-ups. I’ll just say that in 2018, we will definitely do a film and photography shoot; the rest is a surprise!”

What kind of dancer will you be looking for, and what can they expect to experience as far as the audition goes?

Twisted Element. Photo by Jeff Tan Photography.

Twisted Element. Photo by Jeff Tan Photography.

“I am looking for dancers aged 12-17 who want to pursue a dance career, with a passion for and focus on contemporary dance. The most important thing to me is the right attitude, someone who is open, willing and focused. I am not looking for dancers who just want to do leg mounts and pirouettes. I am seeking dancers who are interested in challenging themselves and exploring the unknown, with an open heart. The audition will involve a contemporary technique class, learning of set choreography, followed by improvisation and choreographic tasks. It will be just like a workshop — fun and relaxed!” 

When can we expect to see some of the work of the company?

“Mid-year 2018, we will present our first work.”

Can you give a hint of what you plan to work on first?

“My work at the moment centres on immersive and interactive performance. After creating Opus this year with Twisted Element, I am inspired to continue down this trajectory, exploring new concepts within the immersive realm. We will be creating work that is really fun and quirky, that specifically suits the young Wild Hearts!”

Round 1 Auditions for Wild Hearts will be held 5 November at Duti Studios, Newtown. Dancers can register through the Twisted Element website hereThere will be a second opportunity to audition in January 2018. 

By Linda Badger of Dance Informa. 

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