Contemporary dance-led interdisciplinary professional practice richly fed by diverse community connections is our thing.Felicity Bott, GSD Artistic Director
Great Southern Dance is an agile, project-based Australian professional contemporary dance company based in the south of lutriwita/Tasmania. Incorporated in 2019 by stakeholders in the state’s north and south, we work from Hobart.
We are interdisciplinary: Dance leads the way with architecture, design, light, sound, imagery, and narrative being integral to what we make. Our cultural reach is enhanced by this cross-art form approach. We think it fosters the kind of vibrant cross-sector partnering that enlivens art and communities, enabling art to function in socially embedded ways.
We work with artists of skilled professional standing who have deep personal commitment to art and creativity. We are building company practice gradually, ensuring relevance and nurturing relationships with artists, audiences, partners and peers as we go. We are in creative pursuit of dance performance that is integrally of Tasmania and so engage Tasmanian artists wherever possible.
Since 2019 we have: Partnered with owners and custodians of heritage sites to make site-specific dance performances and films; Resided in the heart of nipaluna/Hobart in City Hall, offering to local and online communities an ‘open door’ to our creative processes; Premiered a new full-length work with an original score at the Studio Theatre; Introduced ourselves to our community and audience; Shared the story of our journey widely in print, via socials, on radio, and national and state television; Commenced operating; honing planning, governance company structure so that these support our rethink of how art functions in today’s milieu.
We ask: What can dance offer big picture human projects and perspectives? And what are the ‘acts of dance’ we might ‘commit’ in response to our values?
Our dance aims to manifest answers to these questions – for ourselves as a company of passionate creatives and for/with those in the concentric circles of engagement that radiate outwards from our actions as artists. We actively explore the multiple relationships between art and life, between dance and the public sphere.
‘Great Southern Dance is a newly minted company on the Tasmanian performing arts landscape…exploring how place and site can be simulated through choreography. The dancer’s ability to recall perceptual states through nuanced kinetic action advance the atmosphere of transporting somewhere beyond onto the stage.…’Nancy Maud-Flude, Reviewer
Our respect for place, story and memory – particularly those of First Nations’ Peoples – is embedded in our constitution. In our practice, we are attentive to the local and want to operate in view of Indigenous and international views and developments in professional dance. Our connections within and beyond lutriwita/Tasmania figure in our cohort of collaborators and in company governance.
‘GSD engages in intensive dramaturgical research, conducting fieldwork throughout the island, including amongst historical sites such as Female Factory and Port Arthur Historic Site. The choreographic methods broaden the dominant procedures of exploring the politics of memory into potentials through the moving process and alluding to a shared history of frontier violence…Nancy Maud-Flude, Reviewer
The dance of GSD is always combined with site, landscape and story. In our projects, full-bodied response-to-site by the professional contemporary artists is to our island’s natural and built environs. Our primary intention is to create ‘inter(disciplinary)dance’ for our community’s life-in-common. We are a culturally diverse team of creatives collaborating to understand what ‘decolonising’ looks and feels like.
…the intently curated narrative pushed raw emotions to the forefront, and left the audience spell bound when the execution was laid out. I felt fully present through the show, and I felt safe in knowing that I would be moved.Jordy Gregg, Writer, ABC Presenter
The results so far have been rich collaborations, meaningful partnerships and in-theatre dance experiences that drop deep, stir round and love up. Living is complex and requires us to be adaptive and creative. Great Southern Dance wants to be these things and to hold the big picture in view whilst ‘dancing’ with the fierce and fluid detail of life.