Posts Tagged ‘r&j


SOLO Festival of Dance – a chat with dancer Cloudia Elder


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.


Cloudia Elder

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.


Cloudia Elder and Robert Flehr in Berlin (choreographer Graeme Murphy). Image by Fiona Cullen 2013.


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.


Cloudia Elder and Robert Flehr in Berlin (choreographer Graeme Murphy). Image by Fiona Cullen 2013.


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.

Solo Festival of Dance

May 15 – 24 2014


Cloudia Elder and Robert Flehr in Élet (choreographer Csaba Buday). Image by Fiona Cullen 2013.






Expressions Dance Company 2014 season launch


EDC 2014 Season Launch

QPAC Concert Hall

Thursday February 6 2014


Attended by Xanthe & Poppy Coward



EDC Season Launch_feb2014


Expressions Dance Company launched their 2014 season last night on stage at QPAC’s Concert Hall. That’s right. We joined the company on the stage, gathering early for social pics and drinks and all that stuff, and right on cue, as the lights changed dramatically, we moved back around the edges to allow current company dancers to move in exquisitely controlled slow motion across the space. It was a suitably dramatic opening preceding heart warming speeches that celebrated the company’s success over thirty years and looked to the future.







EDC’s 2014 program features three home seasons and a tour, including the world premiere of Artistic Director Natalie Weir’s new signature work The Red Shoes, and the return of Australia’s only solo dance festival.

SOLO is dance nourishment for the soul; a tantalising menu curated by Natalie Weir to showcase individual dancers and choreographers in an evening of beautiful artistry and bravura. Produced in association with QPAC & featuring artists from –

Expressions Dance Company (Brisbane)
The Australian Ballet (Melbourne)
Australian Dance Theatre (Adelaide)
Chunky Move (Melbourne)
Dancenorth (Townsville)
Shaun Parker & Company (Sydney)
And Australia’s brightest independents



“As we enter EDC’s 30th-year-anniversary of commitment to producing and showcasing exceptional dance, we thought it the opportune time to bring back some of the company’s most-loved works from recent years, alongside a major new signature work and a contemporary dance festival,” Artistic Director Natalie Weir said. It’s Weir’s sixth year at the company, and her fifth as AD – she shows no signs of slowing down but rather, a fierce determination to take the company to the world!




A Natalie Weir Double Bill
Wednesday 19 – Friday 21 February 2014
EDC Studio, Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts


Australia’s only solo dance festival
Thursday 15 – Saturday 24 May 2014
Cremorne Theatre, QPAC
Presented by EDC in partnership with QPAC


A Natalie Weir Signature Work starring Elise May
Friday 18 – Saturday 26 July 2014
Playhouse, QPAC
Produced by EDC in partnership with QPAC


Thursday 2 October 2014, Ipswich Civic Centre
Tuesday 7 & Wednesday 8 October 2014, Centre of Contemporary Arts Cairns
Friday 10 October 2014, Empire Theatre Toowoomba
Produced by EDC in partnership with QPAC

> < R&J


>< R&J

La Boite Indie & Breadbeard Collective

with the support of QPAC

The Roundhouse

13 – 30 November 2013


Reviewed by Meredith McLean


Ten people aged 18-25 gather in a room. They play, dance, fight, kiss and talk about life, love, violence, sex and death. Taking Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, they remix the work by hanging new meat on the skeleton of the story. As the tale takes hold, the party dies down and the group sees the bloody consequences of their experiments.


Helpmann Award nominee Lucas Stibbard leads a cast of Brisbane’s bravest emerging artists in this deconstruction and reconstruction of the greatest love story ever told.




>< R&J and its opening night has been awaited by many with baited breath. Even one of my own sources in the theatre community was contemplating travelling from the Gold Coast to see it. A lot of excitement was riding on this one. Would it fly or flop? Generally I avoid asking this question before going into a show. But I couldn’t help myself this time. I’ll tell you now, >< R&J soared.


This show truly needs to be seen to be believed. It gets meta, it gets comical, it gets personal, it becomes interactive, it becomes multi-media designed and explosive, it focuses on meta and the Real again. It becomes emotional and bends and turns and laughs and changes and lights up. By the end of the show you feel like you have befriended the cast. You come for the tragedy, but you stay for the interconnected stories you thought you’d never laugh or cry about.


This is what contemporary theatre should aspire to be.


When the show first opened I did have a moment of doubt. The team employs words and imagery on the screen. This is well and good and they made a solid delivery in this media form, but it is a common hallmark of a QUT production. It had me concerned this would be a rehashing of a Vena Cava production and nothing particularly unique. I also choked on the hipster vibes at first. References in the first ten minutes to High Fidelity and covering the song Love Will Us Apart by Joy Division on a ukulele is very cliché hipster chic. All they would’ve needed was The Smiths playing and a guest appearance from Michael Cera and they would have all the pieces of a hipster set.


But this retelling of Romeo and Juliet thankfully did not head in that direction. It’s a show that engages Y Generation more than anyone, but it maintains sincerity and inclusion for all the audience without getting bulked down in being too “quirky”.


The physicality of the show is superb.


The cast in their ever-changing roles was so fluid to transform. Each and everyone of the cast could change from a bum to an astronaut if they wished and I would not have noticed. But there are no astronauts in this show – only star-crossed lovers and those around them.


I lost count how many pop culture references I found. But the songs, the stunts, the lights and the burning creativity of this piece keeps you alert and hungry.


I have seen many performances of Romeo and Juliet. Some were entertaining, some were true to the text and some were absolutely horrible. I vowed never to say this about any version of a Shakespearian classic, and certainly not one as well known as Romeo and Juliet.


This is by far the most impressive performance of the text I have seen yet.


I’m looking forward to seeing what The Breadbeard Collective comes up with next.




How many La Boite Indie shows did you see in 2013?






La Boite Indie is one of Australia’s leading platforms for independent theatre.


This year you’re invited to help La Boite choose one of the six independent groups to move to QPAC in 2014.



Brisbane Festival: Natalie Weir’s When Time Stops


When Time Stops

Brisbane Festival & EDC

QPAC Playhouse

6 September – 14 September 2013


Reviewed by Meredith Walker


The moment a single decision hurtles you into unknown territory…
The moment the water rises…
The moment you choose to stay or go…
The moment that stops time…


From award-winning Australian choreographer, Natalie Weir (where the heart is and R&J), and Expressions Dance Company comes the highly anticipated When Time Stops, an original dance work exploring the simplicity of life-changing moments, whose world premiere is featured as part of the Brisbane Festival.


When Time Stops Image by Dylan Evans


When Time Stops is a performance of poignant moments of melancholy, silence and control, from the ticking of a clock to the rhythm of rowing with invisible oars. Its movement is a celebration of the luxurious, rhythmic qualities of gesture within dance.


It’s an intensely dramatic production, in the way it takes the audience on a voyage of a woman’s last moments of life. Yet, it is Thomas Gundry Greenfield as the ferryman transporting souls safely across the sea, whose presence dominates due to his austere focus and discipline. Elise May too, conveys a controlled contrast of strength and fragility that enhances the tension of a cardiac scene. The ethereal imagery on stage is complemented by an original score by Helpmann Award winner Iain Grandage, played live on stage by members of Queensland’s Chamber Orchestra, Camerata of St John’s.


When Time Stops Image by Dylan Evans


Certainly, this is an ambitious work. In many scenes, the stage is a busy space, as the possibilities of a larger ensemble (not to mention twelve musicians) are explored. The stage and lighting design is enchanting, making use of mirrored surfaces, harsh lighting and alluring shadows. This typifies the juxtapositions at the show’s core, as placid images of rhythmic rowing offer tranquil divergence to its moments of trauma.

Natalie Weir is a creative force whose intuitive aesthetic appreciation is evident through suggested narrative and the exploration of ideas through movement and melody.


In When Time Stops, she has created dance of such intensity that it forces the viewer into the experience, regardless of what their individual interpretation might be. For, as is noted in the show’s program, the content is whatever the audience brings to it. But regardless of whether or not audience appreciation aligns with the artist’s intent, When Time Stops elicits a profound emotional resonance, made all the more hypnotic by the perfection of its performances.


When Time Stops Images by Dylan Evans


Must close September 14th



EDC: Natalie Weir’s R&J and Carmen Sweet


Natalie Weir’s R&J (Act 1 – Passion) and Natalie Weir’s Carmen Sweet

Expressions Dance Company

The Noosa Long Weekend Festival

Thursday 20th June 2013


Reviewed by Xanthe Coward 



Rhiannon McLean Carmen Sweet


See Barry Alsop’s images here


From age to age, one classic story is as timeless as love itself… 

Winner of Outstanding Achievement in Choreography at the 2012 Australian Dance Awards, Natalie Weir’s R&J presents three versions of events inspired by the star-crossed lovers at the heart of Shakespeare’s greatest love story. Exclusively for the Noosa Long Weekend, EDC will revisit the explosive first act, transporting audiences to the beating heart of the modern-day club scene where passion and desire erupt in a dangerous and tragic love triangle.  



This iconic tale of Spanish heat and gypsy passion unravels when naïve soldier Don José has his heart ignited by the fiery Carmen, discarding his childhood sweetheart and deserting the army. Josè’s attempts to tame the freedom-loving beauty are futile, and when she leaves him for the famous toreador Escamillo, all three are engulfed in the flames of jealousy and revenge. Opera’s most famous femme fatale is stripped. Weir’s Carmen is a free spirit; dangerous, volatile and vulnerable, brought to vivid life by three dancers playing her different states of mind and alter egos.


The only dance event of the Festival in 2013, Expressions Dance Company (EDC as the rebranding goes), could have sold out twice over. The full house included many young dancers and their mums and dance teachers, from various Sunshine Coast schools and studios. With the Noosa area schools best represented (NPDA REPRESENT!), I couldn’t help but wonder where the rest were. Surely, a chance to se the acclaimed Queensland company on home turf is more appealing than making the trek to Brisbane on a cold, rainy night? I know, sometimes I make that trek up to four nights a week, and it’s really not as bad as many Coasties make out, but I also appreciate seeing so much top notch stuff, so much closer to home during the Festival.


Actually, it’s moving day today (can you believe we’re moving house in between rehearsals for West Side Story and The Noosa Long Weekend?), so I haven’t been tweeting much! Tonight I have the opportunity to see David Pomeranz’s Chaplin: A Life. In Concert & Meow Meow, and I’ll be letting you know how both those shows go.


EDC did not disappoint (they rarely do). This was indeed, as the Festival program promised, “a delectable double-bill of two enchanting short works.” Poppy and I were excited to see so many young friends in the audience and we enjoyed the buzz before the show began. (We also enjoyed our own little “supper club” at Gaston after the show had ended. Poppy and Jason swapped magic tricks, and we had the best duck spring rolls, dumplings and dessert!).


Natalie Weir’s R&J (Act 1 – Passion)

Natalie Weir’s R&J is, I believe, just one version of three – the first act revisited for this performance – and now I wish I’d seen the other two at some stage. It’s not new news, but nevertheless, it’s a bold statement to set this age-old tragic tale in the throbbing modern day dance club scene. Something about setting the story in this environment seemed cruel! But even Poppy, at seven, missed nothing and look, I’m never sorry to have taken her to a more sophisticated re-telling of any classic story…it’s never too soon to start talking about making good choices when it comes to party drugs.


Representing a mass of moving bodies on a dance floor can be a challenge, can’t it? But EDC opened this piece with a stunning cinematic scene of writhing figures under coloured lights, which established immediately, a sense of intimacy, urgency and helped to build the anticipation for a well-known story. It’s not like we don’t know how it ends, but the thing about a new take on anything is that we like to see how we GET to the end!


The star-crossed lovers are superb in their roles, the passion is there, and we really feel for them, as Juliet becomes the prize in a fight on the dance floor between Romeo and a Capulet dude, whose final blow is a king hit, knocking Romeo unconscious. This gives Juliet the opportunity to demonstrate her grief in a beautifully executed solo before taking a few too many party pills and dying in Romeo’s arms.


I’m under the impression we have no new young male dancers on the Coast at the moment, because if we did, they could would should have been there to see these guys. This is the kind of contemporary dance that is easy to watch and wonderful to remember. We know the story, despite the twists and turns in its retelling, and the dance is so good that, unlike when I was growing up dancing and wanted to be living that life on stage, I watch now and want to live that life IN MY LIFE. That applies more to Carmen though. Obviously, I don’t want to OD at a dance party.


Natalie Weir’s Carmen Sweet

I love Bizet’s Carmen. It was my first favourite opera, and for me it still trumps all the rest in terms of story, character, sound, and entertainment value. And this reading of his Carmen absolutely blew me away. With three Carmens in one last night, we were able to consider the various aspects of the famous, flirty, fiery woman. Her vulnerability doesn’t always come through in the opera, but we see it in Weir’s piece. We see the passion, the ambition, the determination, and with just six EDC dancers, to the sumptuous sound of Shchedrin’s Carmen Suite, we see the jealousy, rage, and the ultimate revenge. It was a double-bill of bold love affairs and death!


After seeing Sheridan Harbridge perform during her sold-out Supper Club at berardo’s on Wednesday night, her own sexy version of Habanera: “L’amour est un oiseau rebelle” (Love is a rebellious bird), I wasn’t sure how hot this show would be, but hot it was! The dancers are in fine form, and it’s easy to see why Elise May received the Outstanding Performance by a Female Dancer Award for her work in this production. She seems to channel every aspect of the sultry, sexy Carmen, and watches while her two alter egos (Michelle Barnett & Riannon McLean) play ruthlessly with her heart and mind. The performances by Daryl Brandwood, Benjamin Chapman, Thomas Gundry Greenfield and Jack Ziesing are equally compelling and technically proficient. I’m so impressed with this show; it left me on a high, and not the Juliet pill popping one. I’m continually impressed with Natalie Weir’s work and I can’t wait to see more from this company. Let’s hope we see them back in Noosa next year.


Again, I’m going to say to Sunshine Coast artists and teachers, FIND A WAY TO SEE THE BEST IN YOUR FIELD! When the shows come to you there’s really no excuse. The Noosa Long Weekend Festival showcases artists who you can’t afford to miss if you’re truly serious about teaching and/or working on your craft, and the ticket prices are excellent value (it was just $55 for EDC’s 90-minute performance at The J Theatre).


Unfortunately, considering the number of dance lovers on the Coast, that’s it for dance at this year’s Festival! But there are still plenty of events happening over the final three days of the Festival, including the sensational Festival Highlights Celebration Concert on Sunday at the Outrigger from 12pm – 4pm.


Book online


And what’s next for EDC? When Time Stops September 6th – 14th at QPAC’s Playhouse.


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