Just another day at the office

Posted by Morgan Leek, September 30th, 2009

So considering it was my idea to have a blog on this website to begin with, I thought four months of writing draft posts without pressing the ‘publish’ button was enough warm up time.

As a communications manager, you can only presume that most of my days are spent writing about shows and talking about artists, using facebook for ‘work reasons only’ and making lunch meetings for ‘networking purposes only’. Yes, most of the time you are right. But for the purposes of making this post an interesting read I’m going to let you know some of the things I do which don’t include being behind a computer screen.

When offered the chance to step outside my humble office nestled in what was Country Arts WA’s board room and into a rehearsal space, I take it – usually with a camera around my neck.

Last week the creative team for Domestic Bliss was at CIA studios causing all kinds of raucous in a make-shift lounge room for their first creative development.

Walking into the space I was met by bruised knees (or in Rhiannon’s case – knees, legs and arms), costumes thrown on the floor and the scent of two weeks’ worth of making things happen. Ah – it was good.

Domestic Bliss is the story of two people desperately in love who are having a fully dysfunctional weekend. Set in a replica of a suburban lounge room, an agoraphobic man and a claustrophobic woman are being pulled apart by a figment of their imagination and lip syncing narrator (whose quirky voice is still permeating through my head).

Although I watched most of the rehearsal through my lens, from what I saw – they were up to something pretty cool. The choreography literally drove performers up the walls, on-top of sink benches and inside cupboards.

It is a work I’m defiantly looking forward to talking up in the future.

Domestic Bliss is choreographed by Chrissie Parrott with music composition by Jonathan Mustard; Performers Rhiannon Newton, Jonathan Buckels, Stefan Karlsson and Marty Moon; and Dramaturg Julia Moody.

Sarah Rowbottam, Communications Manager, Performing Lines WA


APACA & LONG PADDOCK – WHAT FUTURE TOURING MOVES FOR DANCE?

Posted by Metadance09, September 23rd, 2009

Last week I attended the APACA conference and Long Paddock in Port Macquarie (which -for the many people who appear not to know – is in northern NSW). The Future Moves initiative nominated me to attend and I think it was a great idea and thank the ‘dance corridor’ for the opportunity as I got a lot out of the week.

APACA stands for Australian Performing Arts Centres Association and the conference is a great blend of keynotes and smaller seminars with plenty of networking opportunities. Long Paddock is a two day battle of the pitches where producers have either 7.5 or 15 minutes to try and persuade the people who run Australia’s (many regional) performing arts centres to book their show. This time, in between the two events was the 2009 Drovers Awards – all touring related accolades. (And can I just divert for a moment here to congratulate Spare Parts Puppet Theatre who were the only West Australian winners this year. The Arrival won for Best Touring Design)

As my attendance at APACA and Long Paddock was sponsored by the WA dance community I went prepared to pay particular attention to all things dance. As it turned out, it was not too hard to do as the challenges of programming contemporary dance was a hot button topic in several sessions I attended.

The shows presenting at Long Paddock last week are hoping to get tours off the ground in 2011 and I saw pitches by producers ranging from Short + Sweet Dance to Lucy Guerin.

After four days I came away with the following impressions.

1. Getting anything touring is difficult (I think I knew that but now I really KNOW it)

2. Getting contemporary dance touring is extremely difficult (frankly seems borderline impossible)

3. To get your contemporary dance production selected for touring it needs to;

a) have exceptional choreography and/or concept

b) feature very good dancers, preferably widely known

c) probably come from a company with a substantive reputation or at least a choreographer with the same

d) have a point of accessibility for the general public/community engagement and the  more genuine the better

e) have excellent marketing and education materials available

f) have a producer capable of spending the time required building solid relationships with the presenting venues

g) be suitable for presentation in a range of venues from the town hall to a large pros arch theatre

h) have one or more very successful seasons behind you and have some key APACA  presenters see the work at that time

And so on. I am sure you get the drift.

What does this mean for current independent West Australian choreographers keen to get their work a season outside Perth? I don’t know that there are any simple answers but I am sure it will take strategic planning, cunning tactics and a great deal of support from the whole dance community. It will take all of us pooling our networks and knowledge, as it will certainly take a deeper understanding of the interstate market. Sorry if I sound like the voice of doom here. I am sure it can be done and will be done as it has no doubt been done in the past. However, I think we all have to be both smarter and very realistic about the work and about the opportunities.

Fiona de Garis (Producer) Performing Lines WA