AU ABROAD

the AU interview: Sue Peacock (Perth) discusses "Reflect" and bringing her company to Sydney!

Sue Peacock will be hosting a masterclass in conjunction with FORM Dance Projects on February 27th, running alongside the Sydney tour of her "Reflect" production, which runs from February 26th until March 1st. The AU was able to grab some of Sue's time ahead of this tour to find out more about the show.

Thanks for your time, Sue! Firstly, congratulations on your West Australian Dance Award wins; what do these accolades mean to you?

I think these awards are an acknowledgement from your peers for the work you have done. It is encouraging.

'REFLECT' is quite a grand idea. Let's talk about it conceptually first, what made you want to tackle the themes you do in this piece?

I watched two women dancing in front of a white reflective wall; watching the light reflecting off their bodies was like watching their thoughts, I thought this was very interesting. I became very curious about how you could represent memory in this visual way, without telling a story, per se. So choreographically, the work is structured like some films; it shifts forwards backwards in time, small motifs are repeated, reminding you of something that happened earlier. It jumps from one idea or emotion to another; there is a progression, but it is driven more by an emotional sensibility, than a strictly narrative one.

Once you've decided on an artistic and thematic direction, how does the piece come to life from there? Is it something you workshop, or do you create as very clear intent of the way your story will be told before anyone else walks into the room?

I think that changes with each piece - they each start in a different way. This one began with discussions with Andrew Lake, the set and lighting designer. We had both seen the piece I described first and were excited by the concept of reflection. This direction of this work was very much driven by the material created by the dancers in the first few weeks of rehearsal. The story or logic of the work emerged as a natural consequence of the explorations, rather than something I had planned or was determined to make happen. Having said that, while I don't pre-determine the material, obviously I make choices and decisions along the way that shape the final outcomes; it's not an accident that the work is the way it is.

What do you hope people take away from the performance?

The work is built up of many small moments of interaction between the performers. My thought or hope is that people will identify with some of these moments; the ones that may be personally relevant. Again, it is perhaps more of a kind of emotional identification, a feeling or a resonance than a literal or conscious interpretation. While the work is essentially pure dance, there are moments of humour that allow the audience to relax. I think this is a very important part of experiencing a dance work; it is or can be a much more subtle journey than simply observing or interpreting.

Do you think there's anything in this piece that may specifically resonate with Sydney based audiences?

I don't think the content of the work is particularly 'Sydney' or 'Perth' - it's about people and how they remember thins. I think the style and aesthetic of the work is perhaps different from works currently being produced in Sydney.

Tell me a little about the dancers who are involved in this production; who do we have to look out forward to in this group?

All of the dancers were trained in Perth and most are based there. Kynan Hughes would be familiar to Sydney audiences, as an ex-Sydney Dance Company member, and Jenni Large has recently performed with the Dance Maker's Collective. The dancers are all young, energetic and excellent technicians. They are individual performers who also work well together as an ensemble; they have a great sense of humour and are all pretty excited to be performing in Sydney.

Sound becomes an important element in this piece; how did you come to collaborate with Ben Taaffe?

I have worked with Ben on a previous project/work, called "Questions Without Notice". He's an academic who also works as a local DJ, so has a very broad and current perspective on music; he always has interesting insights on the work and I much prefer to work with people who question and challenge the process, rather than simply do what I ask.

What is your collaborative process like? Does sound influence any decisions you make, or is it purely the piece that influences the sound?

I think with Ben, the process begins as a shared effort to find tracks that may work with particular sections and then, there seems to be a point where he takes over more of the responsibility for creating a score which includes all the ambient sound that goes between the tracks, making the score a seamless whole. I think the process is quite fluid, so sometimes the sound influences decisions and sometimes, the choreography does. The sound for "Reflect" does seem to be important in creating the emotional tone of the work.

After "REFLECT" leaves Sydney, what's next for you? What else are you working on at the moment?

I am currently working on an assisted solo/duet with Michael Whaites, which will hopefully perform in France later this year. Otherwise, like most independent artists, I go back to my other job, teaching at WAAPA, the West Australian Academy of Performing Arts.

--

The masterclass will be held on February 27th at Connect Studios, Parramatta from 10am and is followed by a matinee performance of Reflect at Riverside Theatres at 12:30pm. The details on "Reflect" are below.

Dates: 26 February to 1 March 2014
Time: 8pm
Venue: Lennox Theatre, Riverside Theatres Parramatta
Tickets: Adult $28 / Concession $25 from the Riverside Theatres Box Office
Web: www.riversideparramatta.com.au

For further information on the FORM Dance Bites 2014 program, head to http://www.form.org.au/