Amy Hollingsworth leads EDC through ‘The Dinner Party’

Amy Hollingsworth. Photo by David Kelly.
Amy Hollingsworth. Photo by David Kelly.

In January 2019, Amy Hollingsworth became artistic director of the Brisbane-based Expressions Dance Company (EDC). The UK Observer described Hollingsworth as one of “the most compelling and intelligent dancers on the world stage”, and it is clear that she is bringing that same energy from the stage to her new role.

“The transition has been amazing – full of velocity, energy, joy and focus,” says Hollingsworth. “The EDC team and I have a lot of big plans moving forward, so it’s been a busy and fulfilling time. I am very respectful of the responsibility that comes with such a public voice; it demands careful curation and cultivation of EDC’s creative voice so that we have maximum positive connection and impact through our art.”

Amy Hollingsworth. Photo by David Kelly.

Amy Hollingsworth. Photo by David Kelly.

Hollingsworth has performed with companies including Rambert Dance Company, Royal New Zealand Ballet, Peter Schaufuss Balletten, Bonachela Dance Company, Michael Clark Company, Hofesh Shechter Company, George Piper Dancers and Sydney Dance Company. As an Artistic Director with extensive experience as a company dancer herself, she is determined and dedicated to the growth of her artists and understands that this can greatly influence the work she makes at Expressions.

“The success of our art form is inextricably linked to the strength of our artists, so when it comes to creating a legacy for this company, I will use the leadership strengths I have developed over the years, leaning in to create an environment where ideas and talent flourish,” she says. “We will embody courage in artistic risk-taking and dedication to making exhilarating dance works that celebrate being human — connecting, experiencing and placing the act of being at the centre of our art.”

Hollingsworth continues, “Two words lie at the heart of what I desire for the company: freedom and fire. We will encourage, demonstrate and cultivate creative freedom and fire in all those we work with, inciting a passion for and a sense of freedom to be expressive, curious, joyful and empathetic.”

Amy Hollingsworth. Photo by David Kelly.

Amy Hollingsworth. Photo by David Kelly.

Coming up in May as part of EDC’s 2019 season is The Dinner Party, which will continue to tour through Queensland, New South Wales and the Northern Territory. The Dinner Party was nominated for an Australian Dance Award for Outstanding Performance by a Company in 2016, and features dancers new to the company.

“EDC has a long history of having an incredibly strong ensemble of dancers. I have been lucky enough to work with and be inspired by many of them over the years,” Hollingsworth shares. “With the current ensemble for The Dinner Party, I have had the pleasure of working with all of them previously in various capacities, so I know and have enormous respect for each of them. What excites me most is how thoroughly present they all are. They are not only incredible technicians and artists, but they contribute ideas and energy on a daily basis, so we are generating the feeling of using our collective energies and imaginations to achieve our goals.”

Beyond her performance credits, Hollingsworth has also had roles nurturing dance talent, including Dance Director for Sydney Dance Company, Rehearsal Director at EDC and Ballet Mistress for Queensland Ballet. So what are her tips for longevity? A holistic approach beyond just the physical care of your body. She sings the praises of what daily yoga and Pilates did for her body, combined with massage and the occasional acupuncture sessions.

“When speaking of longevity, I always encourage dancers to think of themselves holistically – artistically, creatively and sustainably,” she says. “We are encouraged daily to work hard on our physical selves and our artistry, but dancers must place emphasis on care of their body, heart and mind. You also need to take care of your creative health so that you can be courageous with taking creative risks and so you can enjoy contributing to the development of dance works. Throughout my career, I invested time in immersing myself in art, whether it was visiting art galleries, going to music gigs, exposing myself to other forms of inspiration, and I always looked for opportunities to do new things that scared me a little. Being a dancer takes great courage, and I found testing my confidence in new scenarios helped me develop my strength of character.”

Amy Hollingsworth. Photo by David Kelly.

Amy Hollingsworth. Photo by David Kelly.

Hollingsworth goes on, “And last, but definitely not least, I greatly encourage young dancers to take care of their mental/emotional health so that you have the resilience to navigate this career with vigour, passion and longevity. You can only give fully in the artistic space when you are nurturing yourself. This, for me, was making time for being out in nature or by the sea, spending time with friends, reading and flying – my not so secret passion outside of dance.”

What does Hollingsworth look for in dancers? “Attractive traits in dancers is subjective, so I can only speak from my perspective,” she notes. “Qualities I look for are authenticity, drive, open mindedness and intelligence. I love to see all examples of intelligence in dancers – physical and emotional. The best example of this is seen though a dancer’s dynamic sensibilities and sensitivity. There is nothing like seeing a dancer in control of their expression through movement, playing with exquisite timing and physical emphasis to create profound impact.”

The Dinner Party (The Host) opens at QPAC on May 10 and tours through QLD, NSW and NT. To book tickets and see the dates, visit expressionsdancecompany.org.au/edc/dinnerparty.

By Elle Evangelista of Dance Informa.

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