“These past six months have highlighted to me the important role artists play in the creating, giving and expressing of our work through any and every performative medium, not only to entertain but to transform and inspire the lives of others” – Riley Fitzgerald, Company Dancer.
In collaboration with NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, Sydney Dance Company created Dance Locale; a suite of five films that launch the Department’s year-long Festival Of Place. Conceived by Artistic Director Rafael Bonachela and Sydney Dance Company Resident Multimedia Artist Pedro Greig, Dance Locale is performed by the dancers of Sydney Dance Company and explores and celebrates the public spaces of New South Wales. Read on to learn more about Rafael and Pedro’s creative process and hear from Company Dancer Riley Fitzgerald about what it meant to him to have a performative outlet amidst a time of unprecedented live performance restrictions.
Rafael and Pedro; the creative duo.
What is Dance Locale?
Rafael: Dance Locale is a suite of five films shot across Greater Sydney and in Wagga Wagga, that will take you on a journey through dance, across the breadth and diversity of public spaces in NSW. We were approached by the NSW Government Department of Planning, Industry and Environment to create these works to celebrate the inaugural Festival Of Place.
Rafael: After months spent indoors and connecting through screens, the opportunity to be outdoors, to reclaim our parks and our streets and reconnect with our communities was a privilege I did not take for granted. I wanted to explore the connection between place and culture in this unique moment when the value and importance of our public spaces is at the forefront of our minds. We wanted to pay tribute to the unbreakable connection between the public realm and the creative spirit.
Pedro: For me, it was about helping to reframe the way we view and interact with the public spaces we inhabit. Each film has embedded elements that correlate to our relationship with that space and the way we move through it. Geometric patterns in the landscape for example, was a large influence on the early stages of how I approached the visual narrative of each film.
Pedro: Once we had decided on five areas of country that would best represent the broad scope of NSW public spaces, I spent four weeks scouting those areas to find the right combination of framing for the landscape and stage setting for the dancers. The second half of this was with Rafael and the Sydney Dance Company team so that they could explore the spaces and react to them, which would in turn, inform the choreography. Lighting and time of day were important, as was the framing of the dancer in the landscape.
A Dancer’s perspective.
As a dancer with Sydney Dance Company, you would ordinarily spend most of the year in theatres doing shows. What was your experience of dancing in the public spaces for Dance Locale?
Riley: After the many challenges that this year has presented, Dance Locale was certainly a welcome venture. Since everything shut down in March, we have been focusing on different ways to present our art to wider audiences. In Dance Locale, the public spaces we inhabit sort of replace the stage and so it was a fabulous opportunity for me to push myself in a similar way to my preparation for a live performance. This kind of work is where I feel most satisfied, and where an abundance of growth and development takes place. The experience was freeing, refreshing and exciting.
I particularly enjoyed the Sydney Parklands shoot where I performed a solo. As a youngster, I would always be outdoors hiking and exploring nature with my Dad, so it felt very natural and comfortable to be dancing in such a beautifully rugged environment.
Social restrictions have drastically inhibited live performance this year. How did it feel to perform in the open public space and connect with audiences through the medium of film?
Riley: For me, it is essential to continually develop as an artist and dancer no matter what the circumstances are and performing is in my nature, so during this time any alternative avenue of performance has been worth delving into.
These past six months have highlighted to me the important role artists play in the creating, giving and expressing of our work through any and every performative medium, not only to entertain but to transform and inspire the lives of others.
I am grateful to be a part of this project!