Wakka Wakka and Kombumerri choreographer and performer Katina Olsen is one of four talented dance makers debuting brand new pieces for this year’s New Breed, our annual showcase of fresh ideas and raw talent from some of Australia’s most exciting choreographers.
Her choreographic interests lie in Indigenous cultural dance and story with an interdisciplinary approach fusing film, theatre, moving sculpture and installation. Ahead of the season, we chatted to her about the inspirations behind her new work Mother’s Cry, what audiences can expect and her choreographic style.
Q. What is the inspiration behind the work you’re creating for New Breed, Mother’s Cry?
Stories and knowledge told by my Elders as well as the current state of the earth.
Q. Do you normally work with dancers? Tell us about your past choreographic experiences.
Yes, I’ve worked with dancers with a great range of different abilities and experiences. I’ve worked with my peers in Sydney from Dance Makers Collective, third year students at QUT, Indigenous youth trained and non-trained dancers throughout regional and remote Australia and dancers of different abilities in Norway. It’s been an adventure and definitely rewarding to work with dancers from a variety of differing life experiences. I’ve also learned a great deal from opportunities working with actors in theatre and TV as well.
Q. How would you describe your choreographic style?
Gutsy, fluid, grounded, sculptural, earthy.
Q. How would you describe the music for your piece?
Spacious, mysterious, memories of something ancient with something looming.
Q. What can audiences expect from your piece?
I’m sure everyone will take from it something different depending on their own life experience, but I hope to share with audiences the journey through dance that I’ve learned from my Elders about our next life, and also leave space for us all to reflect on where we are now.
Q. What has been your career highlight so far?
It’s really difficult to narrow it down to one event, but a few come to mind: movement directing for the Malthouse play Walking into the Bigness, performing on Kombumerri country at Festival 2018 with Atamira Dance Company, performing with Bangarra on temporary outdoor stages in Torres Strait and Arnhem Land and working with all the incredible choreographers and directors I’ve had the chance to learn from (Vicki Van Hout, Victoria Hunt, Narelle Benjamin, Frances Rings, Stephen Page, Taree Sansbury, Martin del Amo, Tess de Quincey, Scott Wright and Wesley Enoch, to name a few). Choreographing for New Breed will definitely be added to the list!
Q. What do you love most about contemporary dance?
The opportunity and platform that we have to share stories, and those stories from my family that were suppressed through colonisation, which I’m now able to speak proudly of. I also love the freedom within contemporary dance and the rigorous research we undertake when making work. I never feel constrained or boxed within a particular style. Most importantly, I love and am grateful for the ability and responsibility we have to contribute to the continuing evolution of the oldest living culture in the world.
New Breed is on at Carriageworks, 29 November – 8 December.