The Performance of Cuatro: Chloe Leong and Emma Sholl


26 June 2020


Rafael Bonachela

“In this situation with no audience, the performance felt intimate and personal. It was a joy to be moving in that way again after such an extensive period of time…”

With the release of the final episode of Cuatro this week, we took the opportunity to speak with the two artists who feature in this fourth film, Chloe Leong(Company dancer) and Emma Sholl (Associate Principal Flute, Sydney Symphony Orchestra). Chloe and Emma have never met in person, but have come together, virtually, to perform, Cuatro 4. We talked to them about the conception and realisation of this unique collaboration and what the unusual creative journey has meant to them.

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Q. What inspired you to select the music you played in Cuatro 4?

Emma: Debussy’s Syrinx is such a beautiful and evocative piece and one that made a lot of sense to partner with fluid dance, so I am really glad Rafael Bonachela chose it for me to play. It is one of the most well known in the solo flute repertoire — I first learnt it in my teens which is a very long time ago now! I love coming back to pieces with new ideas, and feeling like my approach to the music has changed in subtle ways. This time, I really enjoyed exploring the colours further and embracing the space and flexibility in the music.

Q. What was the rehearsal process like while in isolation? Were there any challenges or advantages?

Chloe: It was strange and unique, much like everyone’s experience in this current situation. It was the first collaborative process I have experienced without ever connecting with the collaborators in a physical sense. All of the rehearsal process was online, Emma and I went back and forth, sending rehearsal footage and audio to one another, while Rafael and I had rehearsals via zoom in my living room. Apart from the limited amount of space I had to rehearse, there was so much enthusiasm and trust in one another propelling this project forward, that it made the process easy and enjoyable.

Q. How was your performance different to having a live audience?

Emma: It had been a fair while since I had performed when we recorded Cuatro so I certainly did feel some adrenaline pumping once the recording light went on! We had half an hour to record this piece, and it went by in a flash. There are always things you think you can improve on, which is the same for a live performance of course, but it’s difficult not to get stuck in the details knowing that it will be out there for all eternity. I tried to focus on the overall picture and shape of the piece, without neglecting the nuance and the detail Debussy wrote so magically. My audience of one, the wonderful sound man Guy, was very supportive and patient, but it would be amazing to be able to perform this with Chloe for a live audience one day and see how they respond to the collaboration.

Chloe: When performing there is always this giving and receiving from the artists to the audience and the audience to artists. In this situation with no audience, the performance felt intimate and personal. It was a joy to be moving in that way again after such an extensive period of time, that performing the piece was like performance for myself. It brought me back to why I wanted to be a dancer in the first place, it’s a gift that you give to yourself and others.

Q. What was your frame of mind at the time of your performance?

Emma: The whole morning felt a little bit like an out of body experience. I had spent the last nine weeks with my two young children at home, with my husband working from home too, and I was in full mum mode. l was following the developments closely around the world and was heartened by the way things were going in Australia by that point. I prioritised practice time when we started ramping up the collaboration a few weeks before, and was so excited about the project, especially after meeting Chloe, all the other dancers, Pedro and Rafael on our Zoom meeting. Pedro expressed his concept for the project with such genuine emotion, and likened the isolation that we had all been experiencing to his mountain climbing challenges, which was very inspiring. It was also very cool to see Chloe practising so beautifully in her living room in preparation! Going from being at home for so long in my comfy clothes with my family, to concentrated performing with full hair and make-up in a beautiful Bianca Spender dress and high heels was a very strange yet amazing experience!

Chloe: I had a lot of gratitude and a strong sense of empowerment during the performance. These four films have given dance and music a voice again and all the artists and creatives involved, a creative outlet. I also knew how important this film would be for our audiences, by creating equal access to art and as well as bringing to people a sense of balance and optimism.

Q. What do you hope to see going forward for the performance industry within our new digital reality?

Emma: More collaborations! The idea that things may not return to our pre Covid-19 normal is so interesting to me as a classical musician. I miss playing big orchestral repertoire with my colleagues, and certainly hope we can continue to do that soon, but this project shows that wonderful new ideas can be born out of adversity. I look forward to the diverse ways we can connect with audiences in the future and the new challenges that will bring.



Q.What do you hope virtual audiences take away from watching your segment of the film?

Chloe: I hope virtual audiences have embraced and loved watching all four segments of the film and have deeply felt the ‘essential-ness’ of the arts to them personally. Each of the four films demonstrate the incredible ability that dance, music and art forms have in creating connection, telling stories and nourishing both the audience and artists with visceral reminders of hope.

Watch Chloe and Emma’s performance of Cuatro 4.
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