To celebrate DANCENDENTS and the upcoming Masterclass Series at ReadyMade Works, each week we will be profiling one of the incredible artists that we have on board to share their skills, passion and moving ideas!
This week we chatted to Narelle Benjamin, independent dancer, choreographer and current Australia Council for the Arts Dance Fellow. We asked her five questions about art, life and inspiration;
RMW: Can you tell us bit about what you are working on at the moment/what is of interest to you creatively?
Narelle Benjamin: I have just returned from Germany working with Paul White on a duo, made possible through my Australia Council Fellowship. The somatic research I have been exploring as part of my fellowship is creatively informing this new work which is in development.
I have been embarking on an enriching schedule of Somatic studies during this fellowship, with the view that this will greatly inform my own creative movement practice. I have also been involved in an artistic exchange with choreographer/performer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, which has inspired my own practice as an artist and choreographer.
Going to Germany to work with Paul White and bringing all of my last year and a half’s experience and research into a creative process to start bringing a new work to life has been really inspiring. It has been interesting to see where all this information has landed and what came to the forefront and emerged during this creative development. I look forward to the next stage.
RMW: Can you tell us what draws you to the body as a vehicle to tell stories?
NB: My interest in choreography has evolved through my everyday yoga practice.
Of course the motivation to make work driven by my yoga practice has developed over time and my interests and involvement have progressed with each work, but movement is my language and my way of communicating. It has made sense for me to go deeper into the body with the somatic work I have been studying to inform my creative practice and teaching further. I have surprised myself with what I discovered through the body in relationship to different organs, fluids, and connective lines or channels through the body, having a sense of volume and lightness without boundaries or borders within the body (working with space, inside the body and out). The motivation is action/ movement, based on perception. When you become aware of perception you forget about the action. The perception becomes the main thing … one’s personal relationship to the incoming information. This is when surprising movement patterns emerge which create a real sense of freedom. It is the unknown spaces that I am interested in, the not knowing that is exciting, and seeing glimpses of these embodiments through this work. Exploring something really specific within the body, without thinking of the bigger picture or aesthetic, is really liberating and inevitably through this singular view, doors open.
At this stage as a dancer and choreographer I am also driven to explore movement and concepts drawn from instinct: the layers underneath the surface or image, being awakened to nature and the senses, associations that at times we don’t understand or loose touch with.
RMW: Can you tell us one of your most favourite dancing experiences
NB: I have so many, so my last favorite experience was being in Wuppertal last week working with Paul White. I really appreciate the creative process, we are so lucky as performers /makers to have this time collaborating and exploring in the studio with fellow artists. It is a sacred space.
RMW: What surprises you about the creative act of being in a shared learning space
NB: After doing your research for a work, then observing the connections, and insights revealed during the process is so rewarding. Seeing the individuals own expression and connection to the information is exciting, and which creates a rich landscape to work with.
RMW: If you could work with any other artist in the world who would it be and why?
NB: I feel very lucky to be working with artists I admire from Australia.
Sidi Larbi has been a performer and choreographer that I have admired since 2000 when I first saw him perform with ballet C de la B. I was in Adelaide working with Garry Steward and performing Bird Brain for the Adelaide festival.
I immediately recognized a performer that also was interested in using the body in an extreme way.
We have been lucky enough to see his work here is Australia over the years and I have watched him as a choreographer, dancer and maker and have related to his work as far as his movement quality, concepts and multicultural exchanges. It is inspiring to see an artist so committed to refining and exploring his physicality through his ideas and concepts. I think an audience can be transported with the performers using a movement vocabulary that is extreme but at the same time has an organic principle that I think an audience can relate to.
Register for the one day workshop with Narelle Benjamin on the 16th August 10am – 4pm.