Drawn To The City: Gala Moody, the performer

International performer Gala Moody has long used this city as a creative hub as her career jumped from contemporary dancer to model to actor.

Moody recently returned to Adelaide, temporarily leaving her Belgium base, to lecture in dance at the Adelaide College of the Arts while working on local film projects. “Young people inspire me so much,” Moody says of working at the TAFE SA city campus. “My students here in Adelaide are spontaneous and inventive, which I enjoy tremendously.”

In teaching and performing, Moody is keen to push the boundaries of dance. She sees herself not as a dancer, but as a performer who works outside of such labels. This approach has allowed her to shift her practice from the dance studio to the world of theatre, fashion and film.

Moody began her career at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts and she’s been working professionally since 2004. She has been continually drawn to Adelaide to work with an array of local creatives such as dancers Leigh Warren, Gabrielle Nankivell and Amanda Phillips and music producer and composer Alexander Waite Mitchell.

Working across Europe, Moody has performed with the likes of choreographer Wim Vandekeybus (Ultima Vez) and Italian avant-garde theatre director Romeo Castellucci. The fashion world has also been captivated by Moody as she has modeled in runway shows and campaigns for Issey Miyake, Hermès and Chanel.

Suspiria, which was recently in cinemas, sees dance used in film to powerful effect, and Moody is at the heart of this choreography. Directed by Luca Guadagnino (Call Me by Your Name, I Am Love) and starring Tilda Swinton and Dakota Johnson, the film follows a coven of witches in Berlin and is a remake of the classic 1977 film of the same name by Dario Argento.

Gala Moody, illustrated by Leo Greenfield

Originally cast to dance in Suspiria’s ensemble, Moody captured the attention of Guadagnino who quickly re-cast her to play the character of Caroline. “Luca has great creative vision,” Moody says. “I connect with him artistically. I’ve worked with a lot of other great directors and I find Luca to be personable and generous. He is both straightforward and enthusiastic and offers thorough instruction. He is also a lot of fun to be around, and I hope he continues to make many films in the future.”

On the first day of shooting, Moody was the first actor in front of the camera. “It was my first foray into cinema and I jumped straight into the deep end, with everyone watching, including Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke, who was working on the soundtrack for the film.”

It was an intimidating moment but Moody says she’d “worked for a long time as a performer and I felt it was an extension of that work, rather than something completely new. I felt it was familiar.”

Belgian choreographer Damien Jalet introduced Moody to Guadagnino’s team and invited her to work on the development of Suspiria in Varese, Italy. Jalet’s dance piece Les Médusées (The Bewitched), originally performed at the Louvre, served as basis for the film’s gut-wrenching choreography. “Damien works with ritual across a range of ethnicities, and I think that deep connection to spiritual power was an interesting way to represent female strength in the film. I was extremely glad to work with Damien’s movement rather than something more aesthetically derived.’’

Of working alongside Hollywood stars: “Dakota [Johnson] had a way of making you feel comfortable, she did a good job on the dance sequences as well.” Swinton was also an inspiration. “Tilda was very invested in the film, like the guardian of the project. She projected calmness and a collective spirit, which I really enjoyed.”

Moody’s approach to mentoring her students this summer will bear no resemblance to that of the film’s storyline. But her sheer force of creativity and fearless approach to performance will no doubt inspire students, just as her performance in Suspiria continues to captivate filmgoers worldwide.

Leo Greenfield is a freelance illustrator
leogreenfield.com

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