New Breed Choreographer Spotlight: Shian Law


8 November 2016

Shian Law is a Melbourne-based performance artist and one of the four choreographers creating new pieces for our third edition of New Breed (29 Nov – 10 Dec) at Carriageworks.


What can audiences expect from your piece?

As an artist, I have always worked across different art forms and contexts-choreography, gallery performance, live art, installation and screen based art. When I was invited by Rafael Bonachela to make a work on the company ensemble, I thought about which facets of my practice that I can share with the company and their audience, and how else the dancers are able to communicate with the audience at certain proximity.

So I will try change the conventional format of performance a little, and create an interface where the audience and the dancers can encounter one another in a surprising way.

How would you describe your choreographic style?

When I work, I think about choreography, dance and performance simultaneously. In my mind, none of these things exists independently of each other. Where when, how it happens and for whom the performances is made pose very important questions. So the concept usually begins with a conundrum and a proposal for the solutions. I then formulate the physical exploration from there.

At the same time, I try to remain reactive and agile when in the studio. There is always an improvisational set up but I work with the material in situ. I really love the fluidity and tension between a thought-out vision and trusting the body will disclose the next brilliant idea.

What was your inspiration?

The idea of the work “Epic Theatre” is to turn the rituals of theatre against itself. I am interested in questioning how bodies are represented in theatre, and what are the criteria, established norms and formalities that tell us what to think.

I took inspiration from Bertolt Brecht’s Epic Theatre and try to rethink the functions of theatre and what the status quo may be at present. I relate that to my experience in dance, choreography and improvisation. There is so much in the intention is to defamiliarise the body so that it can produce new possibilities for both the moving body and the spectator. And as an artist, I try to work to expand the possibilities within myself and with my work.

What has been your career highlight so far?

The invitation by Rafael is definitely “the highlight”. It is something that I have not imagined for myself. Prior to that, I received a scholarship from Tanja Liedtke Foundation to work in Berlin for three months. I am also undertaking an international residency mentored by my personal hero, renowned artist Jennifer Lacey at Cité Internationale Des Arte, Paris through Australia Council for the Arts. These opportunities open up a whole new world to me as an artist, and at the same time, they re-affirm my artistic voice and pursuit-that this is not a fantasy that I dream up. It is a tangible and worthy vocation for me to keep going with.

What do you love most about contemporary dance?

I love to move. I love contemporary dance because of its mutability of form and meaning. It constantly slips though my fingers. And there can be so much conflated in the experience-sensations, intellect, beauty…

New Breed
29 Nov – 10 Dec, Carriageworks

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