Us 50: Choreographing for 50 performers for our 50th anniversary


17 March 2023

As part of Sydney Dance Company’s 50th Anniversary celebrations, Gideon Obarzanek is creating Us 50, an epic new work featuring 50 performers made up of alumni Company dancers from the last five decades, current Company dancers, and you, our audience.

Book your tickets now for Us 50, part of Sydney Dance Company's 50th Anniversary double billBonachela / Obarzanek from 1 - 9 November in Sydney.

When we speak about 50 years of a dance company we also speak about 50 years of dance making,” says Obarzanek. “What is made, however, is ephemeral. The dancer’s body… can be videoed and photographed but dance itself only truly exists when it is danced. So the history of the Company is stored and transmitted through the bodies of its dancers and collected in the memory of its audiences.”  Gideon Obarzanek

Charmene Yap, an assistant choreographer of Us 50, explains how she is helping Obarzanek to create this performance to incorporate 25 volunteers from the audience each night.

“In addition to the 10 alumni Company dancers performing, who represent the generations of dancers that have passed through Sydney Dance Company in the 50 years, we will be inviting 25 volunteer audience participants who will be also joining the dancers on stage so that there will be a total of 50 people to celebrate our 50th birthday. Each volunteer will have ear-pieces and instructions from myself sitting in the audience, directing them in coordination with the rest of the Company.”

“I have been working with Gideon helping him rehearse and assist in the choreography. The starting point for his process has drawn from the idea of generations of information and movement and the history of this company. The passing on of information from dancer to dancer over time.

It’s this idea of interpreting movement, the transmission of information, which Gideon is interested in and he’s played with this through the act of copying. Gideon is interested in letting the audience really see this process of transmission in a raw form.”

“For example, as part of the creation process an Alumni dancer remembers an old phrase of movement that gets passed on from one dancer to the next through a process of copying one another, forming a version of the material, a new adaption, which ends with a Company dancer’s interpretation of it. So from this raw form, it grows into a more complex arrangement of movement and a more choreographed form.”

Charmene shares that it is still very early days in the creative process and the next week will see trial and error incorporating the 10 Alumni dancers and getting the 25 audience participants on stage.

“The work celebrates community, the connection between dancer and dancer, dancers and audiences”.

Celebrate with us and volunteer to perform with our Company dancers, just purchase a ticket in the stalls and apply.

Us 50 is part of Season Two from 1 - 9 November in Sydney. Subscribe nowand save 15% on tickets.
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