Shining amongst the line-up of star veterans in the Adelaide Festival’s dance program is Skeleton, an independent new work from ex Australian Dance Theatre (ADT) dancer and choreographer Larissa McGowan.
McGowan’s Skeleton will be the only independent dance work at the Adelaide Festival and with the ADT unusually absent from the Festival program (they are in Europe on tour), Skeleton will be the show to catch exciting new local dance. McGowan says X-ray photographer Nick Veasey and Los Angeles-based Australian artist Ricky Swallow inspired Skeleton.
“The idea was derived from some images by Nick Veasey, a guy that does some amazing stuff with X-rays of objects and the skeletal form, as well as Ricky Swallow who creates sculptures with skeletons and objects. I was really intrigued by the juxtaposition of things that were looked at as objects yet one was the actual human form,” McGowan explains.
“It’s interesting, they were put together by these popular cultural objects and all of them related to me because they were from the 80s and 90s, the era I grew up in. I appreciated the idea regarding all of these objects as archeological artifacts or something that’s from history. I looked at it in regards to both the object and the human actually being objects within the space. By fusing them together, and creating scenarios where you see them combined, you are trying to get a picture of what really happened, whether it’s a memory or it’s a fantasy or something from your past. It was fun to play around with this archaeological puzzle. I think it makes the audience question what’s really happened or who this person was and why it’s happened to them.”
McGowan co-directs Skeleton with ex Border Project Artistic Director Sam Haren.
“I really enjoy working with him because he allows me to look at it, still from a dancer’s point of view, but he feeds so much dramaturgical input into the shaping of the work, so that it’s also coming from a theatre perspective. This allows me to really analyse it to make sure that it’s not just movement for movement’s sake.”
The former ADT dancer and Assistant Choreographer, who spent 11 years at the Adelaide-based contemporary dance company, is now independent.
“Obviously I have been jumping between companies making work but that’s as an independent artist. I continue to work with Garry (Stewart, ADT Artistic Director) off and on.”
McGowan went independent to show her identity of movement.
“I realised that within the ADT context I was making a lot of short works as well as putting a lot of movement into the tasking of each show that Garry had made. I felt like I needed to put something out there for myself that showed my identity of movement. It wasn’t running away or trying to break free, it was more about trying to figure out who I was rather than this negative thought of that I was leaving to get away. It was quite the opposite. I felt like I had given so much to the company and I felt like I needed to give it to myself.”
Once Skeleton’s Adelaide Festival season finishes, the production will travel to Melbourne and then, maybe, overseas.
“At the moment there are talks of going to Dublin Dance Festival. The next stage is touring both nationally and internationally. So, it’s all looking very promising but the first stage for me is seeing how it’s received here in Adelaide.”
AC Arts Main Theatre
Thursday, February 28 to Saturday, March 9