Australian Dance Theatre: Stepping into a Digital World

Australian Dance Theatre (ADT) is gearing up for strong season of performance over the next month, combining live performance with brand new digital projects set to continue well beyond ‘Mad March’.

With Habitus opening at the Adelaide Festival of Arts this Friday, February 26, Proximity Interactive exhibiting at the Adelaide Biennial of Visual Arts from Saturday, February 27 and The Beginning of Nature performing at WOMADelaide this March, the company has more than a full serve on its plate. Speaking with The Adelaide Review, ADT Artistic Director Garry Stewart says it’s a “very busy moment” for the company. “There’s just so much going on with the Fringe, Adelaide Festival, the Biennial and more… Perhaps we would prefer to spread these activities out across the year, but you need to take these opportunities as they are.” Of course, the opportunities are as plentiful as the company’s work is diverse. Habitus, which will see its world premiere at the Adelaide Festival of Arts, is a show based in the most banal of things: household furniture. Yet, Stewart explains that the nine dancers of the live show interact with this material “in the most inventive and ingenious ways”. Habitus-Australian-dance-theatre-adelaide-review-festival-of-arts-contemporary-dance-furniture What begins as a humdrum domestic environment “transforms into a topography of nature” where the dancers embody a living, breathing ecosystem. “It’s about nature reclaiming everything again,” says Stewart. This innovative live performance of dance will go on to tour internationally after its premiere season in Adelaide. From live art to recorded, Proximity Interactive will exhibit the visual effects used in the ADT’s original live show, Proximity at the Anne Gordon Samstag Museum as part of the Adelaide Biennial. Viewers will be able to interact and be guided by the interactive animations that were used to stellar success in the prior production. “It encourages users into a choreographic state of mind,” Stewart explains. Proximity-Interactive-australian-dance-theatre-adelaide-biennial-of-art-video-performance In a surprising turn, the production is also being adapted for clinical use as part of a research program with the University of Adelaide. Stewart says that Proximity Clinical will be used to “help in the rehabilitation of  people with neurological damage” through its reactive and interactive animations. Then back to the stage, but only for two nights, will be the Beginning of Nature at WOMADelaide. This is another exploration of the natural world, but where Habitus looks at humanity’s connection with nature, The Beginning of Nature examines its rhythmic aspect. “Everything in nature is mediated through rhythms and patterns,” says Stewart. With music composed by ADT regular maestro Brendan Woithe, dancers will join forces with Adelaide’s Zephyr Quartet and two local Indigenous singers, who will contribute vocals in the Kaurna language. The performance promises to be a touching, and memorable blend of artistic styles, as we have come to expect from WOMADelaide. Stewart goes on to explain that like ProximityThe Beginning of Nature will have a legacy in digital art as well. “We’ve been working with local creatives at Jumpgate VR and Sandpit to bring this to life in real locations,” he says. the-beginning-of-nature-adelaide-review-australian-dance-theatre-womadelaide-contemporary-dance-virtual-reality The performance will be adapted to a virtual reality experience, where viewers can experience the performance in eminently natural locations in an immersive 360 degree experience. “We’re shooting this in places like the Mt Lofty Botanic Gardens, Bridgewater and Willunga Beach.” These digital projects help to breathe extra life into a company that has traditionally focussed on live performance. With one foot in live performance and another in the digital world, ADT is working to ensure the legacy of what can be a fleeting art form. Habitus Adelaide Festival Centre Friday, 26 February to Saturday, 5 March Proximity Interactive Anne & Gordon Samstag Museum of Art From Saturday, 27 February The Beginning of Nature Botanic Park Saturday, 12 March and Monday, 14 March   Images: Chris Herzfeld – Camlight Productions  

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