PPY Dancer Keia McGrady on performing Breath Repertoire at Sydney Contemporary


5 October 2018

Our Pre-Professional Year 2018 dancers recently performed in artist Mel O’Callaghan’s Breath Repertoire as part of the annual Sydney Contemporary art fair.

The large scale, public performance had the dancers engage in ritualistic breathwork using potent Altered State of Consciousness technique with a harp score by Clare Cooper and Verna Lee.

Dancer Keia McGrady shared her reflections on performing in the piece:

“Throughout my year in PPY, I have been faced with many challenges – spiritually, mentally and physically. I’ve encountered these challenges through my everyday practice in PPY, be it working with different choreographers, practising yoga, or striving to find my authenticity as an artist and human being. Without these challenges, I wouldn’t be the artist I am today. Performing in Mel O’Callaghan‘s Breath Repertoire, a large scale ritualistic public performance as part of Sydney Contemporary, was a very exciting challenge I encountered recently.

I felt incredibly inspired to have taken part in this work. The concept behind the piece is based on ancient breath rituals where the subconscious takes over and transforms into a transcendental meditative state.

As one of the performers, my challenge was to not give into my regular thought pattern, to let my authentic movement take over as I improvised with the feelings and emotions, delving deeper into a euphoric experience.

The work’s duration was 20 minutes, accompanied with a live harp score by Clare Cooper and Verna Lee and performed to the coming and going pedestrians in Barangaroo, who sometimes were completely unaware of the performance taking place. We found ourselves diving into the unknown, calling and responding to the sound of the soft harp in the background and the breathing sounds of other PPY performers. The installation was never the same, and that’s what excited me the most. There was this connection: an energy that myself and the group formed throughout the five performances. By the last performance, this connection became something so beautiful and encouraging.

This experience is one of many participations in PPY I will cherish throughout my journey as an artist. It has brought to the surface the impact that energy and awareness has as a performer and how dance as an art form is so much more than just movement.”

Applications for PPY20 are open until 2nd September

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