Up and running in the Lion Arts Centre, the relatively new LWDance Hub is a much needed resource and dance facility for mid-career artists.
The brainchild of Leigh Warren, LWDance Hub is in a “discovery stage” in 2017 according to Amanda Phillips, the Hub’s associate curator. Phillips, a mid-career artist, is directing proceedings while Warren is teaching and choreographing at Taipei’s National University of the Arts, invited by its head, former Adelaide dancer and choreographer Xiao-Xiong Zhang.
According to Phillips, Warren believes “there’s one major dance company in Adelaide, and that’s Australian Dance Theatre”.
“There’s a culture right now where people need a space and the resource of time to develop their own practice, so there needs to be something for emerging, established and independent practitioners and also multi-discipline practitioners,” Phillips says. “I’ve done a lot of research and also through my experience being overseas – London, Switzerland, Vienna – I had those contacts to go back to and touch base with them.”
When studying for her Master’s at London’s Laban Centre, Phillips hired a studio at Chisenhale Dance Space, a community-run place with several studios, and this gave her a model for LWDance Hub.
An artist-in-residence program allows people to apply for three days’ to three weeks’ space. “We don’t want to put up too many boundaries,” Phillips says. “There seems to be a trend now which is, ‘We’re not going to judge what you’re doing, we just want you to come in, come as you are – put your body in space and your space in body’ and create something, because new practice is born out of that.”
The residency program has begun already, with Carlie Angel (February), Abbie Madden (May), and others in the wings including Alison Currie (August), who recently performed as part of the Art Gallery of South Australia’s Versus Rodin exhibition, and Tobiah Booth-Remmers (December). Vacancies are still available. The residency program is designed to
encourage artists to research, experiment and refine their work in a professional dance studio, to use office space and equipment and gain advice from mentors. The space is provided for free.
Taking over some of the opportunities that Ausdance offered, the Hub is holding holiday dance programs for secondary and tertiary students, help for dancers going for auditions, company classes for professional dancers and teacher-training days for primary school teachers to help them understand and articulate the dance portion of the national arts curriculum.
As well as the residency program, significant contributions come from visiting artists. The first is James Berlyn, an award-winning multidisciplinary artist who has produced works for festivals in Perth, Brisbane, Sydney and Adelaide (Cabaret Festival and WOMADelaide). Berlyn has already directed a two-day workshop in April, with others to come in August for nine days and December, when there will be a showing resulting from the earlier two. This will give Dance Hub public exposure.
The first workshop for mid-career artists in April drew 25 participants who left hungry for more. When he returns for nine days in August, Berlyn will work on ideas first with a whole group, and then with separate groups.
“There’s a whole bevy of us who have had careers,” Phillips says. “We’re creating across different platforms, whether it be dance, theatre or films. I feel we’ve been shaken. With Ausdance ripped from under our feet, LWDance Hub is giving us a way to reconnect – reconnect in terms of community, reconnect in terms of creativity and make new connections which can be inspirational, and to make something workable for the future for us.”
LWDance Hub is however having to make a compromise: its premises are for the present being shared with State Theatre Company of South Australia, each having six months but at various times. And the Hub does not yet have funding for next year. “We need to nurture its growth,” declares Phillips. “We need our own facility. But it’s a tenuous situation; we need to work out fast how to hold what we have, to nurture what we know, and to find out what we don’t know. Adelaide is the Festival State, and we need to nurture great ideas and the talent that is there … Private dance schools in Adelaide are thriving. Norwood Ballet Centre, where I went, has 300 students and others have much the same.”
LWDance Hub is committed to bridging the gap between the independent dance sector’s creative output in South Australia and the identified need for professional development and research-based opportunities for mid-career artists. It is already providing a much needed resource.
Photography: Alexander Waite Mitchell