Aussie Scott Elstermann is the youngest-ever recipient of the Pina Bausch Fellowship

Scott Elstermann. Photo by Tyrone Robinson.

An independent dancer and choreographer based in Perth, Scott Elstermann is the youngest recipient ever of the Pina Bausch Fellowship.

The international fellowship is promoted internationally, and a maximum of four fellowships are granted each year. In selecting Elstermann, the jury mentioned, “Coming from an insular geographical location, Elstermann had the ability to develop and maintain himself in an intelligent and ambitious international level. Combining a high technical level with a compelling stage presence and a very sensitive and expressive body language, his skills and talent as a dancer are extremely promising, and we feel that an immersion in a stimulating and challenging dance environment is crucial for the next phase of his artistic development.”

2018 Fellowship recipients Marie-Lena Kaiser, Alexander Achour, Kareth Schaffer, Scott Elstermann. Photo by Sala Seddiki.

2018 Fellowship recipients Marie-Lena Kaiser, Alexander Achour, Kareth Schaffer, Scott Elstermann. Photo by Sala Seddiki.

Based in Perth, the jury saw this as an advantage, and Elstermann agrees that there are many positives in being in an insular location as described by the jury. “The Australian dance community is very resilient, especially those isolated in Perth,” he tells Dance Informa. “Their ability to be transient, adaptable and persevere is extremely admirable and are traits which are recognised all over the world.”

He continues, “I decided to apply for the fellowship to accelerate my artistic development under the guidance of an internationally renowned mentor. I had not come across an application such as the Pina Bausch Fellowship. There is no outcome, no expectation, no boundaries, just time and space to learn in an environment of your choice. After applying in 2017, I found out that I was one of 10 shortlisted applications and was urged to reapply for 2018. I’m glad I took the Foundation’s advice to do so!”

The fellowships allow the selected artists to choose a cooperating partner anywhere in the world, and Elstermann has chosen Spain’s Marina Mascarell, whom he first met three years ago. “Through Marina Mascarell, I have the opportunity to gain an exclusive insight into the European dance scene by accompanying her as she works with some of the world’s best dance companies, including Nederlands Dans Theater and Skånes Dansteater,” Elstermann says. “I will have the chance to see all facets of her creative process from a new creation, a remount, touring, research and workshops.”

Scott Elstermann and Marina Mascarell. Photo courtesy of Elstermann.

Scott Elstermann and Marina Mascarell. Photo courtesy of Elstermann.

He elaborates, “Our relationship began when we met in 2015, and I was thrilled when Marina said ‘yes’ to being the cooperating partner on my application. When we saw each other on our first day together in Sweden, it was like no time had passed. Marina is giving me an ‘access all areas’ pass into her practice for four months, learning about the European company and freelance structure, funding systems, festivals, auditions, artists and so on. Each city and each process brings different ideas forward and a new awareness of the dance scene in that country. It has been a lot of information to process, but we are focusing on developing my own unique potential as a dancer, discovering my creative interests and cementing what direction I want to take my career.”

Elstermann continues, “There have already been a lot of pinch-me moments, but some highlights so far have been the introductory week in Wuppertal, getting to join Nederlands Dans Theater for a whole month and watching Marina’s latest work get a standing ovation at the premiere.” 

At the conclusion of the fellowship, the recipients are invited to present their findings in a lecture in Wuppertal in January 2019, and Elstermann mentions he is eager to share his new skills and experiences after some time to process the magnitude of the fellowship.

“After the fellowship, I hope I can share the skills, knowledge and experiences I learnt and encountered with whoever is interested,” he says. “Incorporating this information into my own practice will hopefully continue to shape how I want to establish my career as an artist. As the youngest-ever recipient, I hope this opportunity opens doors I never knew were possible, but first, I think I will need a few weeks to process everything.” 

By Elle Evangelista of Dance Informa.

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