Mark the 30th anniversary of Expressions Dance Company and Natalie Weir's 10th anniversary as Artistic Director, 4Seasons is a collaboration with Hong Kong’s City Contemporary Dance Company. Nance Haxton interviews Natalie on the journey:

A tour de force international co-production, involving three dance companies from two different countries, is marking a rare dance collaboration, with production 4Seasons opening in Queensland Performing Arts Centre on 14 June after its world premiere in Hong Kong on 1 June.

Brisbane based contemporary dance group Expressions Dance Company is celebrating more than three decades as a contemporary dance ensemble, with this landmark production involving Hong Kong’s City Contemporary Dance Company (CCDC). It’s a significant milestone in an increasingly ephemeral arts environment where ensembles – particularly modern dance groups – rarely last such a long time.

Expressions Dance Company QPAC

Expressions Dance Company

After the Brisbane performances end on 22 June, 4Seasons will tour to Darwin, Australia, with the potential to extend the show to tour to other countries.

Artistic Director Natalie Weir is marking her tenth anniversary with Expressions Dance Company with this show. She says the collaborative exchange of culture with Chinese dance makers has been a significant turning point for Expressions,

‘It’s quite a deep collaboration, so we’re sharing cultures as well. When we perform there, we’re also performing to their audiences. Rather than thinking about the seasons, I’ve approached it more like the seasons of life. So it’s quite emotional and very beautiful.’

Expressions Dance Company QPAC

Expressions Dance Company

Natalie notes that while the dancers don’t share a verbal language, they understand each other through the shared language of movement to create an extraordinary, complementary synergy,

‘In the studio it’s absolutely beautiful because hardly any of the Australian dancers can speak Chinese, and some of the Chinese dancers can speak English, but so much is understood just through the body language and the language of dance. The Australians tend to move in a really big way – we’re used to having a lot of space – and so they cover the ground and are usually quite tall. The Chinese dancers are tighter because they’ve got a lot more people – they tend to move really fast, sharp and fluid. So, it’s quite beautiful to put the two together.

‘Each Australian dancer dances with a Chinese dancer so it’s completely combined. It feels like one big company.’

Expressions Dance Company QPAC

Expressions Dance Company

Expressions Dance Company has stayed relevant by producing one major work every year for more than 30 years. It’s also launching a youth ensemble in a couple of weeks time. Natalie remarks that this continual evolution was key to the company’s survival in a competitive international arts environment,

‘We try to be a pillar of the community in some ways and try to support other aspects of the dance culture in Australia. You’ve just got to keep evolving with the time and make sure you have the most wonderful dancers. Because at the end of the day, if you’ve got an audience, that’s what keeps you alive, and having the stunning dancers we have that helps with our audience growth.’

The triple bill 4Seasons features new contemporary dance works by Natalie Weir, Dominic Wong (Assistant Artistic Director, CCDC) and Helpmann Award winning choreographer Kristina Chan, featuring 20 dancers from the EDC and CCDC ensembles. The show was produced as part of EDC’s five-year Chinese-Australian Dance Exchange Project, a major collaboration involving three high profile Chinese dance companies working with EDC to develop culturally significant and ambitious new contemporary dance works in both Australia and China, as well as providing opportunities for dancers and choreographers to deepen their practice.

4Seasons features moments from celebrated minimalist composer Max Richter (Woolf Works, The Royal Ballet) melded with Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons.

 

 

4Seasons runs at Queensland Performing Arts Centre from 14 – 22 June 2018. For further information, please visit the venue website.

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