Regardless of whether you’re a novice dancer or a professional, the Supercell Festival in Brisbane is the perfect way to immerse yourself in everything contemporary dance.
Kate Usher, who is one of the creators behind the festival said that, “there’s a variety of performances, and a variety of styles within the main stage offerings so if you don’t like one thing or one particular performance, there’s so many other things you can try or taste out to experience contemporary dance.”
“We have performances that are lyrical and highly visceral all the way through to quite avant-garde, very conceptual pieces from Norway and Scandinavian artists.”
“The other exciting thing for us is the participate program, which offers dance classes, workshops and conversations for the dance lover, all the way through to the professional artist.”
Having had their inaugural festival last year, Kate said it was an amazing experience with over 5000 attendees.
“We cover artistically a very broad wide range of movement styles but thematically we are looking at the hot topics, the cultural zeitgeist that is happening today, that is situating us in our world. We look at things from identity to gender to the first nation experience and heritage all the way to mental illness and health and wellbeing and we gather all of these topics together.”
Kate herself was originally a contemporary dancer who trained through the Queensland University of Technology, but ended up retraining in business and put all of her love for the arts together and spent the last ten years producing and managing events and has now started to move into curation.
“Curation can often take many different pathways in being able to pull together a program, for me it always starts with a conversation with an artist, about their work and the respect for the ideas they are exploring and what their contribution is to the narrative of our day, of our life and who we are.”
Supercell Festival started when Kate and her friend and colleague Glyn Roberts were in Korea on a young curator’s program. “We had the most amazing experience meeting with other people all over the world. Robyn Archer is one of the key advocates and leaders in this space and one evening over kimchi she just went to Glenn and I and said, ‘what are you doing, what are you going to contribute back to Brisbane, back to Australia out of this?’ “
“After that, we came back to Brisbane and decided that we wanted to step up, we wanted to make something happen and there wasn’t at that time much aggregation or championing of dance in Queensland,” Kate said.
“We have three amazing contemporary dance companies here which no other state has, but there is very little opportunity for them to interact with each other and interact with our community and our audiences. That was kind of a driving force, it took us 18 months to get to the first festival and now we are rolling on annually as best we can.”
Picking her favourite performance in the festival was a tough choice for Kate. “It’s like having children, you love them all equally, but my festival pick would be to take a risk on Everything Remains. Which is the piece that we brought out from Norway, Denmark and Sweden and it’s a great collaboration with the Baltic dance houses.”
“It’s a very meditative, stripped back, sculptural piece that looks at the experience of the trans body. We have this artist Juli Apponen who is a trans artist and she talks and explains what her journey is and how much the pain and the toll her self-identity has physically taken on her. The lighting is stunning, and the performer is actually naked for the entire piece, but they are never put in a situation where they are vulnerable, or they are not in control, it’s exquisite and beautiful to watch.”
The workshops that are available throughout the festival include, everything from a basic introduction to what is contemporary dance, to taking a master class where you can learn a bit of the choreography from some of the performances you might have seen. All the way through to the Common People Dance Project run by Neridah Waters, a local artist here in Brisbane. Kate said that it’s, “literally all about cracking out your favourite hot tunes and not worrying about what you look like, it’s about having fun and coming together, and to actually just share a moment of joy through dance.”
The Supercell Festival runs from February 10 to 18 with the main stage being at the Brisbane Powerhouse but other performances can also be seen at the Judith Wright Centre in Fortitude Valley. Click here for more information.