The first year of the fellowship has been a hive of activity; mostly planning for the up-coming year. It’s a relief to have the fellowship not confined to a single year as it has helped incredibly to facilitate the planning of the coming projects.
However, the main project which did come to fruition in 2012, was the composition and performance of a song cycle by members of Opera Australia. In performances at the Opera House in Sydney and Hamer Hall in Melbourne, soprano Nicole Car and tenor Jonathan Abernethy, were accompanied by Andrew Greene in Sydney and Tony Legge in Melbourne. Both performances were exemplary of the professionalism of the Young Artists. Time spent with Tony attending a number of rehearsals of different Opera productions taking place in Melbourne was invaluable.
I also spent some rewarding time with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and Sydney Dance Company. This included getting to know some of the artists and developing an understanding of how such significant arts organisations pull together such demanding and polished programs. I’m looking forward to the next phase of working with these organisations.
The next major project is working with the Australian Ballet. This will occur in stages throughout 2013 developing new work for the Bodytorque program which takes place in Sydney in October and November. More to come! JW.

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Carmen

Once again time has been slipping by and I realised I hadn’t written about the last month or so, regarding my time as assistant director for Carmen. The production was directed by Matthew Barclay, resident director at Opera Australia and was for the South Australian Opera’s season at the Adelaide Festival Centre.

Of all the activities I have had the great pleasure and opportunity of pursuing this year, this season of Carmen was the furthest away from my previous experiences, as Opera is relatively new to me. I did wonder at the beginning of the rehearsal period how I could contribute effectively and what I could bring, when I really had little prior knowledge of this specific production of Carmen. I kept reminding myself that a large part of this fellowship is the learning experiences I have gained this year and the potential for future partnerships through the experiences offered to me.

From the very first day of rehearsals Matthew Barclay introduced me to the cast with reference to who I was and the fellowship opportunity. This put me at great ease and allowed me to soak up and absorb his process during the early stages of rehearsals. I quickly discovered that directing Opera is not too dissimilar to how I would direct my own dance theatre works and quite quickly I felt I could contribute more and fulfil the role of assistant director. As Carmen is a very physical Opera, the importance of movement and staging are pivotal to the work. Matthew kindly allowed me to ‘take over’ rehearsing certain sections and adjusting movement to suit the artists involved. From that point on I felt connected to the production and enjoyed the process immensely.

The season was a great success I believe and from my personal point of view the connection I have now made with Matthew is exciting. He has already spoken to me about the possibility of working with him again on other Opera’s and potentially choreographing, which is where my strength is. Here’s hoping that comes to fruition!

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SDC, Opera Australia and More

Well I have been very remiss in posting new blogs in the last couple of months, my excuse is…I’ve been very busy!!

After my fantastic experience with the Australian Ballet I came back to Brisbane to finish creating a work for Queensland Ballet’s Professional Year students. This is something I started earlier in the year and it was now heading towards a performance season in Queensland Ballet’s Vis-a-Vis season. I am happy to say it all went very well.

In mid July I went back down to the Australian Ballet Company in Melbourne and was able to observe a period of Greame Murphy creating Romeo and Juliet on the company. I have to say I would find it incredibly daunting working on a whole company the size of the Australian Ballet and it was a great experience to see how Greame managed this task of large group work- by creating rough fomations and groupings and etching out a broad framework first and then going back to add detail and finer content. He certainly has a great sense of theatre and vitality to the way he works. I am hoping to get to the Sydney performance season to see the finished work.

From here it was back to Brisbane and apart from a number of grant appplications and teaching work, I also began an initial stage develoment of an independent work I hope to continue at Brisbane Powerhouse next year. I worked with 3 dancers in a studio to workshop very early stage ideas on a piece that has a working title of “Architectural Skin’. Hopefully more of this next year…

In September I was able to do something I have been waiting all year to do…and that is spend some time on an initial stage research and development project, with some dancers at Sydney Dance Company. The whole period I was there I was made to feel so welcome by the whole company and I absolutely relished the time i spent in the studio with the dancers. I worked towards a very informal showing on the last afternooon and the feedback I received was incredibly positive and encouraging. I am hoping to be able to go back in the future and finish what I started to fully realise a work with the company. Fingers crossed!

After this time with SDC I managed to be back in Brisbane for they’re premiere of ‘The Land of Yes and the Land of No’ for Brisbane festival- what a delight to see. I am now brushing up on a bit of research for Carmen as I head down to Adelaide next week to work as assistant director on the South Australian Opera’s production of Carmen, directed by Opera Australia’s Matthew Barclay. I am very excited and looking forward to a new adventure with the Opera.

I will post again soon to write how that is all progressing…

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Bodytorque

It has been a couple of weeks now since the Bodytorque season in Sydney and I am finally managing to sit down and write about the experience. All in all it was an honour to be involved and I actually keep pinching myself that I made a work on The Australian Ballet….just something I never thought I would do as a choreographer.

The first day I turned up for rehearsals I signed in to the Sydney Opera House, which is were the company was resident and performing another season in the evenings. It was quite something to go to work in such an iconic space and also to rehearse on stage- now I can say I have danced on the Sydney Opera House stage!

This season is such an interesting one for The Australian Ballet and I believe it will continue to grow and develop new audiences for them. As a contemporary choreographer with really very little experience of creating on a ballet company, I was more than a little nervous in the early rehearsals, as we had such a short time frame to create the work. It was essentially two weeks with an hour and a quarter a day to make a 10 minute work, which really is fast going! I was worried the dancers would take time to adapt to my movement style and it really didn’t leave any time for workshopping or improvising, which is how I would usually create.

To their absolute credit though, they absorbed everything so quickly and were incredibly focused and commited to what we were doing. I found quite early on that I had to be smart about the material I was giving them, it was essentially a balance of finding  my movement style, adapted to what would suit their bodies and stylistic tendencies. What gorgeous dancers though-they were all beautiful artists and I was truly lucky to work with the three dancers I had- thank you Dana, John and Ben!

Another highlight for me working on this piece was the chance to collaborate with both Paul Charlier and Chris Golsby. Paul is an amazingly experienced and talented composer and Chris a wonderful art director/video artist whom I have collaborated with previously. It’s not often you have a completely harmonious creation period and Paul and Chris were just such a pleasure to work with and inspiring in their own fields. It still amazes me when I look back on the work now, that we pulled it all together in two weeks!

By the time we got into Sydney Theatre, where the show premiered, it was lovely to finally see the other choreographers pieces – it was such a diverse range of work. The season was a great success (I believe) and I was overwhelmed by the wonderful feedback following opening night. The other amazing opportunity this season provided was a first for The Australian Ballet- and that was a live streaming through Bigpond of the final show. If anyone is reading this blog and would like to see the show it is still available to view.

All in all…. what an memorable experience and one I hope I can repeat one day. I’m now back in Brisbane finishing off a piece for Queensland Ballet’s professional year students, which will be performed at the end of next week. I also have a little work to do finally updating my own personal website with all the wonderful things I have been doing this year- it’s been a little neglected. My next venture will be back down to Melbourne with The Australian Ballet to observe Greame Murphy begin his new creation on the company… until then.

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Bodytorque preparation

Well the last few weeks I have been busy working with the Queensland ballet’s professional year and choreographing a work for them to perform later in the year. I believe the end of Sydney Dance Company’s season of ‘Shared Frequencies’ was a resounding success and they all deserved a well-earned holiday at the completion. I’ve had a short break over Easter with my family, but most of that has been spent writing grant proposals for future independent work and thinking about my piece for Bodytorque!

Tommorrow I will be meeting in Sydney with my composer , Paul Charlier and we will try to put together a rough soundtrack for Bodytorque. I am a bit nervous about the time frame for this rehearsal period, as it is only two weeks, but I will just have to be incredibly prepared when I walk into the studio Monday. The rest of this week I will be creating material for the work (by myself) and still trying to brainstorm a bit for the video content of the work. I am incredibly excited about this opportunity though and can’t wait to get into rehearsals with the dancers at the Opera House!

Lisa

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SDC Premiere

The last two weeks has been an exciting time for Sydney Dance Company and once again I have been privileged to be ‘behind the scenes’ of their latest season Shared Frequencies. I have spent time with the company over the last couple of weeks observing the two works by Rafael Bonachela and Jacopo Godani go into production week in the Sydney Theatre and then through to opening night. It was lovely to be able to take company class for the dancers on stage, whilst I was there last week, and such a joy to watch them all perform- they are all true artists.

The season was a resounding success, with a standing ovation both on the preview and opening night…and well deserved. Both works are incredibly articulate, intelligently crafted works with a real shift in feeling from one to the other-this makes for a incredible evening of dance. I am so looking forward to later in the year when I will have the opportunity myself to workshop with some of the dancers!

I have also started a piece for Queensland Ballet’s Professional Year students recently and this will keep me busy in the coming weeks. I have a countdown now to my rehearsal period for Bodytorque with the Australian Ballet-  I am  busy in talks with composers and video artists and starting to get my head around what that work will ‘look and feel’ like. I have had to write the program notes already ….so I do have a fair idea! I’ll be back soon with an update on how that is all progressing.

Lisa

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First Blog for 2011- Lisa Wilson- 2011 Choreographic Fellow

My first Blog as the 2011 Hephzibah Tintner Foundation Fellow-
We are quite a way into the year already and this is my first blog so I will try to sum up the year to date!
So far I have spent quite a bit of time with Sydney Dance Company observing the creation of Rafael Bonachela’s new work ‘ Landforms’. It has been a pleasure and a privilege to be able to watch this creative process unfold and I have been so fortunate in how welcoming the whole company has been. It is wonderful to see how instinctive Rafael is when he works and that although there is so much thought behind what he does, he allows room for the intuitive side of himself to craft his work.
This week I have observed Jacopo Godani who is guest choreographer work on his new creation for the combined season called ‘Shared Frequencies’. It is going to be a beautiful program with sumptuous dancers and gorgeously crafted works.
In the middle of this, I have also spent my first week down in Melbourne with the Australian Ballet, beginning my own creation for their ‘Bodytorque’ season. Although it is just early days yet, I have 3 lovely dancers to work with and some creative ideas to get me started. The main rehearsal period is in May so I have a little more time to research and develop some ideas, particularly the video imagery that will be incorporated into the piece and the music. I am extremely fortunate to be collaborating with composer Paul Charlier and art director Chris Golsby (video) on this work, which will hopefully make it quite special. More on that to come…..

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