Interviews

Amy Campbell’s explosive and immersive ‘leap’ – Win Tickets

Shontaya Smedley, Maikolo Fekitoa and Dayton Tavares in 'leap'. Photo by Nick Bowers Photography.
Shontaya Smedley, Maikolo Fekitoa and Dayton Tavares in 'leap'. Photo by Nick Bowers Photography.

Leap is the new production choreographed and directed by Amy Campbell. Described as ‘athletic dance immersed coated in passionate live music,’ Campbell’s vision for an unforgettable and unmatchable show is what keeps her at the top of her game. leap is premiering April 22 to 24at Riverside Theatre and will tour regional NSW and to QLD before taking the world by storm!

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Amy Campbell.
Amy Campbell.

With 20 years working across all areas of the entertainment industry, Campbell’s extensive list of credits recently includes her directorial debut originating a brand new Australian production of A Chorus Line for Darlinghurst Theatre Company. leap is the brainchild of producer Neil Gooding, with musical supervision by Victoria Falconer, and lighting and set design by Richard Neville (Mandylights). 

Aged from 19 to 33, the stunning dance ensemble have graced stages and screens across many platforms of the entertainment world. The line-up includes Ashley Goh, Callum Mooney, Cassandra Merwood, Felicia Stavropoulos, Maikolo Fekitoa, Natalie Foti, Neven Connolly, Shontaya Smedley, Jervis Livelo and Ryan Ophel.

A unique blend of dance and story, leap will transport you into the lives of compelling characters in the effervescent and unknown world that is leap. Do you stay where you are…or will you take the leap? What would you do to get everything you ever dreamed of?

Dayton Tavares in 'leap'. Photo by Nick Bowers Photography.
Dayton Tavares in ‘leap’. Photo by Nick Bowers Photography.

Join us as we speak to Campbell about her vision for the show, which includes live classical music reimagined for a new world, broken apart to be rearranged and performed by four virtuoso concert musicians playing a combination of piano, cello, beats and violin. 

Amy, you describe leap as ‘art show, meets dance show, meets interactive experience.’ Without any major spoilers, how did you weave these key elements together?

“By collaborating with excellent designers and dancers, we were able to create a new world! We’ve been able to create not only a new visual world for our story to live in, but as the sound is live, it surrounds the performance, and the costumes tell as much of the story as the steps do. I think a show is most successful when all elements work together to take the audience on a journey and into their own imagination!”

You have been conceptualising this production for the past five years. What prompted the initial concept?

Shontaya Smedley, Maikolo Fekitoa and Dayton Tavares in 'leap'. Photo by Nick Bowers Photography.
Shontaya Smedley, Maikolo Fekitoa and Dayton Tavares in ‘leap’. Photo by Nick Bowers Photography.

“Initially, the idea was to make a show that showcased the diverse range of talents of my friends. Knowing that wasn’t enough, I started writing a show that didn’t stick to the rules – not a musical, not a concert. Somewhere in-between is where we’ve landed. I wanted to make a show that challenged and showcased each artist to tell stories in new ways.”

How have both yourself and Victoria Falconer (musical supervisor/arrangements) re-imagined recognisable classical music into a modern soundtrack?

“Victoria and I have really worked to make the sound of the show both familiar and new. We’ve used a lot of new musical influences and orchestrations and had many conversations about the frequencies of classical musical and what role traditional classical music has played on our lives. It’s been a blast to take songs that have soundtracked different moments in our lives and put a new spin on them.

Shontaya Smedley in 'leap'. Photo by Nick Bowers Photography.
Shontaya Smedley in ‘leap’. Photo by Nick Bowers Photography.

The result is a dynamic soundtrack that honours and delights in so many familiar, beloved musical themes – from Beethoven, Bach, Vivaldi, Debussy and more – motifs that exist in our collective subconscious, reworked to interweave with the exhilarating combination of story and movement. The frequency that this music evokes in your soul is exciting, playful and powerful.”

Tell us about the audition process and what you were looking for to enable the vision you had for the production?

“My whole goal was to work with amazing artists who were open to collaborate and invent. I wanted dancers who were specialists in their fields and all open to play. Also, I am always drawn to dancers who can emote and take me somewhere alongside their incredible physicality.

The auditions were amazing. We played in so many ways, and I kept throwing the most bizarre ideas and exercises into the room to see who responded to fun!”

What is the key story and message you hope audience members (and dancers within the show) will walk away with?

Maikolo Fekitoa in 'leap'. Photo by Nick Bowers Photography.
Maikolo Fekitoa in ‘leap’. Photo by Nick Bowers Photography.

“My hope is that the audience will walk away feeling empowered to make a daring choice. To feel like it’s okay to challenge yourself to take that risk. From trying a different coffee to finally chasing that dream. What are you willing to risk to get everything you ever wanted? I also want dancers to walk away inspired to know that they are only limited by their imaginations.

leap is unlike anything I have ever choreographed. I have been living and dreaming this show for over five years now. It celebrates resilience and tenacity; nothing beats the collision of bodies and live music. Each of the dancers are brilliant soloists. My goal is to celebrate their unique artistry, individuality, passion and excellent sense of adventure. Making art that entertains, enthrals and is accessible.

Leap was assisted by the Restart Investment to Sustain and Expand fund (RISE), an Australian Government initiative. The work is suitable for all ages and will be presented at Riverside Theatre from 22 – 24 April. For bookings, visit riversideparramatta.com.au/show/leap.

By Renata Ogayar of Dance Informa.

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