BREAKINGS Artist profile: Interview with Fiona Bruce

Posted by admin, March 30th, 2010

model breakingsLR
Image: Set model for Breakings by designed by Fiona Bruce and Bryan Woltjen.

Perth set designer Fiona Bruce is currently working on Aimee Smith’s Breakings – a new solo dance work which will be presented at the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts Performance Space next month.

How did you get into set design?

Sideways. Growing up I had a real passion for acting and so when it came to picking a university course, I chose Performance Studies. But I found that the harder I worked and the more study I did, the less I enjoyed acting. I still loved theatre so found myself retreating into more backstage duties on the university productions and there, nestled amongst the musty costumes and old paint tins I found a new passion. And when I enrolled in a second arts degree, this time majoring in Design at WAAPA, the formal training only magnified my desire to work professionally as a set and costume designer.

Who influenced you to become a designer?

I think the first major hurdle young people face when thinking about a career in the arts is well meaning concern from their parents about the lack of financial security and stability many artists face, and their pleas to turn their creativity into a hobby rather than a career. Luckily for me, both my parents have worked in creative fields so they were very encouraging and taught me that when faced with a challenge that’s when you take your work to the next level, not give up and go into accounting. With that support behind me I was able to follow my creative interests, keep my eyes and my mind open to a vast array of creative influences and find my niche.

What’s unique about the set for Breakings?

It’s highly flammable! And during the long hours of lighting plots and tech time there’s plenty to read.

It’s other unique features may not be visible from the audience, but collaborating with Bryan Woltjen on the design was a first for me, and having most of the set built early on so Aimee’s choreography can evolve around physical objects in context was a unique process too. Also extra time in the venue to make sure all of the theatrical elements are in balance with one another (as opposed to crossing your fingers and not finding out until dress rehearsal, or worse, Opening Night!)

How do you access news about the world?

Without ever really trying too. I would be quite happy to live under a rock in blissful ignorance of the latest footballer scandal or stock market adjustment but somehow all that information gets into my head anyway. I’ve been told that as an artist it’s a valuable tool to keep your eyes and ears open all the time to see what unexpected thing inspires you. But it also means a hell of a lot of junk gets in too, which can be counter-productive. I prefer the newspaper or internet for keeping abreast of events as I can control what information to focus on whereas TV you are force fed information whether you want it or not.

If you could change just one thing about your industry with the wave of a magic wand, what would it be?

I would change the perception that the performing arts are for snobs. The arts are for everyone. Perth would be a better place if a Sunday session meant heading into Northbridge for some contemporary dance at PICA or a new theatrical work at the Blueroom rather than sitting in a pub.

Breakings
PICA, Perth Cultural Centre, James Street
8 – 11 April
www.pica.org.au
Tickets

Filed under Aimee Smith


BREAKINGS Artist profile: Interview with Aimee Smith

Posted by admin, March 29th, 2010

LR_Breakings, Aimee Smith, [CR Traianos Pakioufakis]05
Pictured: Aimee Smith Photo: Traianos Pakioufakis

Perth choreographer and dancer Aimee Smith is currently gearing up to present her first full length solo work Breakings next month at the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts Performance Space. Working with Sound Designer Ben Taaffe, Lighting Designer Mike Nanning, Audio Visual Artist Jerrem Lynch, Set and Costume Designer Fiona Bruce, Set Designer Bryan Woltjen and with outside eye of LINK Dance Company Artistic Director Michael Whaites, Aimee’s Breakings gets to the bottom of how the media influences our perception of the world.

You recently bumped into PICA for your final rehearsal stages, how are you feeling about getting the show up and running for opening night on April 8th?

Well its crunch time right now. Less than 2 weeks from Opening Night always means long hours and hard work mixed with a burst of adrenaline and excitement at seeing all the elements finally come together. It has been so wonderful to be able to spend some time in the performance space prior to production week, where we can still be creative and adaptable to the space. It’s not very often you get this time in a venue. It’s a real luxury.

Why did you choose to both choreograph and perform in Breakings?

There’s something unique about a self devised solo that you just can’t re-create in an outside choreographed work. Not necessarily better, but just different. In some ways I think it lends itself to be more intimate. Also, the themes of the work grew out of a personal reaction to living in an increasingly mediated world. As I started to realise that I was not alone in these feelings I decided to make this work, but it made sense to me to base it in a personal framework.

How do you access news about the world?

Just like everyone else – through the multitude of globules and streams that get thrown at me – internet, television and occasionally, very occasionally, newspaper. I guess what I seek most is balance. I want to feel like I’m getting told all sides of the story so I can make my own judgments about things, so this leads me to the internet a lot. I think the internet is an amazing tool, that yes, can be overwhelming, but is also been so revolutionary and empowering in how it has re-opened and democratised news and information.

Do you dance alone when you are at home?

Ha! Actually I dance at home all the time. My kitchen floor is well worn. I always have. My brother will tell you that his friends knew me as ‘the dancing sister’ as I spent entire summers dancing on my back lawn. So yeah, I dance at home…still….as a 27 year old(!)… though not necessarily alone.

Who influenced you to become a choreographer?

I think the question for me really is ‘what’ not ‘who’. As a child I loved to dance and I loved the magic of the theatre and the emotional transformations, and space for imagination that the theatre offered. As an adult I am interested in using arts as a way of sense-making, of sharing stories and ideas as a society, in order to find our way through this world as best we can. I think the body is a storehouse of extremely valuable information and a carrier of very rich and grounded wisdom. This inspires me daily.

If you could change just one thing about your industry with the wave of a magic wand, what would it be?

I would like the world to realise how magical and powerful art can be to human wellbeing and social happiness. I would like Australians to dare to put down their footballs occasionally, and to pick up a paintbrush or a guitar or a go to a dance class instead. I think this is the answer for our industry!

Breakings
PICA, Perth Cultural Centre, James Street
8 – 11 April
www.pica.org.au
Tickets

Filed under Aimee Smith