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14 September 2016

Footmarks by the Primal Dance Company

Footmarks by the Primal Dance Company

Footmarks is a modern dance work staged by the regionally-based Primal Dance Company and choreographer Alyssa Casey. The company is attached to the Lee Academy of Dance School, based on the Central Coast of NSW, and is the only full-time dance company in the region.

Alyssa Casey took the brave step of commissioning three local composers, Ian Munro, John Nottle and Christopher Sainsbury to each contribute a 15-20 minute segment for her new work. Footmarks is an exploration of the way our regional history has shaped our contemporary cultural identity. It is inspired by the physical environment of the Central Coast region as well as historical stories of strength, loss, courage and celebration.

As part of the work, Casey has incorporated colonial-era tools into the dance. So, large barn augers, brace and bit, axes and timber, all constitute a part of the dance and the set design. The link between the set and the tools, the music and the dance, and the screening of colonial-era images through to contemporary images (digital set design by Amy Le Brocq) has resulted in a strong show, rich with local narrative, yet relevant to Australia at large. It is our various regions' distinction that best articulate a nation, and that's what the creators of this show understand.

A regional dance company commissioning three regional composers is a big deal, and Alyssa Casey reminds us that this is possible and beneficial to all. Hopefully, many working in regional centres in a range of arts and performing arts will hear of her sense that 'this is the natural course to follow', and do likewise.

My piece Scar Tree forms the first act, and suggests the original functional and ceremonial Aboriginal scar trees - a culture I am a part of - and the new scarring of trees by the timber cutters in the colonial era. Munro's Clarinet Quintet (Songs from the Bush) forms the second act, and integrates colonial-era folk songs into his original music with great melodic and rhythmic inventiveness and beautiful colour, which is representative of the rich environment the new colonialists inhabited. Nottle's Ex machina forms the third act, and is an impactful work for digital piano that brings the narrative of the whole dance piece into the modern era.

The choreography to these three works knits them together well as one.

The season consists of a Sydney premiere (5 September), followed by a short NSW coastal regions tour, including, Laycock Street Theatre, Gosford on 11 September; Wyong Arthouse Theatre on 7 October and Port Macquarie Glasshouse Theatre on 16 October.

Footmarks was funded through the Art Central Regional Creative Industry Program as well as the Lee Academy Dance School

Further links

Christopher Sainsbury - AMC profile
Ian Munro - AMC profile
John Nottle - AMC profile
Primal Dance Company - www.leeacademy.com.au


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