EDC’s Solo Festival of Dance – a chat with dancer Cloudia Elder
Interviewed by Ruth Ridgway
The Solo Festival of Dance mounted by Expressions Dance Company (EDC), and curated by Artistic Director Natalie Weir, runs from May 15 – 24 2014. It features dancers and choreographers from contemporary companies around Australia, as well as independent artists.
Twenty-year-old Cloudia Elder, a dance student at QUT, is excited and honoured to be performing in Solo.
Can you tell us a little about the piece you are performing in the Solo festival?
My solo was choreographed by Csaba Buday [Lecturer in Contemporary Dance at QUT]. I am lucky to have worked with Csaba in 2013 for his work Élet where I had a short solo that led into a dynamic trio with two boys. We performed this in the QUT graduation show.
Csaba decided to develop this work into a full solo for me. It’s been an interesting shift, because I was playing this promiscuous character with these two boys, and now I’m playing with the audience. It’s quite a sexy solo, but not too overwhelming!
This opportunity, it’s been a dream come true. I have to pinch myself to realise that it’s still happening. All these amazing guest artists and choreographers are taking part in Solo, and I’m just blown away to be part of the show!
You are studying at QUT and on secondment to EDC. How did this come about, and how does the secondment work?
I’m still studying, doing third year in a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Dance Performance). I’m really lucky that QUT has this connection with EDC [as a training partner]. Natalie [Weir] arranged with QUT to take me on as a trainee – the performances here count towards my marks at uni.
I do technique classes in the morning at QUT, and at 12 o’clock I come to EDC and I rehearse here. I’m not missing out on anything at uni.
I think I’m the first person seconded in this way, but Expressions’ dancer Michelle Barnett was a trainee after she graduated from QUT.
The secondment came about after I went to one of EDC’s Brisbane Contemporary Dance Intensive workshops for one week, and they had R&J [Natalie Weir’s reinterpretation of Romeo and Juliet] and Carmen Sweet coming up. Unfortunately a dancer had been injured and by the end of the week, Natalie asked me if I would be available to perform in 4 weeks. Of course I said “Yes!” I ended up getting Act 1 of R&J. After that season, Natalie offered me the traineeship.
I hope that I have given a good impression and that for others in coming years EDC might also offer the same.
Solo is obviously a highlight of your dance career. What other opportunities have been really important to you?
R&J at the beginning of the year. And then I’ll be in EDC’s production of The Red Shoes as well, in July. I’ve been here for the entire creative process, which has been an incredible experience.
Natalie has given me the opportunity to have a little choreographic “play” for The Red Shoes. She gave me a few tasks and I got to show her the sort of things that I like to do. She wanted me to be able to adapt to the way she likes to create and direct.
How did you become a dancer, and who has influenced you as a dancer?
I’m originally from Sydney, and I started dance classes at the age of three with Janece Graham. Straight away she was very strict, but she was amazing, and she really built me up until the age of 13.
Then I went to Redlands Secondary School in Cremorne on a dance scholarship, and I studied there with Kim Traynor. She was a major influence for me. She is just this divine, loving person. She had trained at the Royal Ballet School and also danced with the Australian Ballet.
At Redlands I was also introduced to Olivia Ansell, who is Executive Producer with Shaun Parker & Company. She was my first contemporary teacher. I got to see a few of her shows, and she gave me solos and really took me under her wing. She suggested I go into contemporary, and then later I got into QUT.
At QUT last year we were able to work with Graeme Murphy and perform in his Berlin. He came to the show and said it was just like watching his own dancers when he was at Sydney Dance Company. Getting comments like that was fabulous! He gave QUT the rights to perform his works after seeing the performance. QUT is the only tertiary institution that has that.
Are there any other people you want to mention who have influenced you?
I’d definitely say first my family. My family are powerhouses. There are no other dancers in the family – oh, but my dad was a ballroom dancer. I don’t know if it comes from him, though. And my mum teaches ryoho yoga. So maybe I got flexibility and power from her?
I love to do yoga. Especially ryoho, which is a Japanese style, and very dynamic. I do quite a few of mum’s yoga intensives when I’m in Sydney. You see the changes, even after three days – everything’s so solid, you start to see a beautiful waistline, you feel so much more energetic.
I think if you are a dancer you really need to consider taking up yoga.
What are your hopes for your future career?
Well, at the moment I am very focused on EDC of course, and hoping for a future with EDC with my fingers crossed.
I’m also really interested in the choreography and dance I’ve seen from Israel.
One of my biggest influences – it really told me “you need to go into contemporary” – was a work by Hofesh Schechter, an Israeli choreographer based in London. He did this phenomenal work called Political Mother,which was performed in Sydney a few years ago at the Opera House. There was live music (the audience had to wear ear plugs), and the dancers were just unbelievable. It was so relevant to what was happening in society, and I just thought I couldn’t really imagine doing the Nutcracker every year.
Contemporary dance really connects with current issues and emotions.
I did a workshop with another Israeli company last year – Vertigo Dance Company. And I fell in love with that movement as well.
I would definitely like to travel to Israel, do workshops, spend some time there. Working overseas is something a dancer should always be up for. It would be an incredible experience. But at the moment, Expressions is my priority.
See the best in the country, at their best.
May 15 – 24 2014