Sydney Dance Company’s emerging choreographers will be showcased overseas for the first time in November.
Ahead of the Australian premieres of their four newly created works, this year’s Sydney Dance Company New Breed artists will for the first time be showcased overseas. The New Breed programme is Sydney Dance Company’s professional development platform, championing the best emerging choreographers working within the sphere of contemporary dance. This year independent dancer-choreographers Daniel Riley and Kristina Chan are joined on the pioneering scheme by two aspiring dance makers from the ranks of the SDC, Bernhard Knauer and Fiona Jopp, who all have the unprecedented opportunity to unveil their New Breed works on a global stage. On November 26 each of the four talented artists will deliver the world premieres of their new works, performed by dancers from the SDC, at the prestigious Festpiele Ludwigshafen in Germany, before they bring the works home for their Australian premieres at Sydney’s Carriageworks on December 8 – 13.
A professional debut is always an auspicious event, but for German-born Bernhard Knauer having the opportunity to present his first fully staged choreography in his native Germany is especially poignant. Knauer relocated to Sydney five years ago to join the Sydney Dance Company and hadn’t expected that his family would have the chance to see his work first hand when he was accepted on to the New Breed programme. “It’s just a wonderful surprise for me,” he shares. “It’s definitely very exicitng, but also pretty nerve-wracking!” Being able to share this success with his family has made his first experience choreographing particularly significant. “Usually I just get to see them over Skype or I talk to them on the phone, but for my family to actually see something, not that I’m just dancing in, but that i’ve made, that’s very special.”
Knauer’s impetus to create might be a trait he’s inherited. Even before he was told of the international performances for 2015’s New Breed works, he had already decided that he would be using music by his father, composer Jürgen Knauer, for his piece, Derived. “Growing up with a composer as my father, I’ve heard a lot of his music,” he explains. “I’ve always had in the back of my mind that I would use his music in my own work. It’s so familiar to me and so it was a pretty natural decision, even for my first piece.”
In creating Derived, Knauer has explored the same structural techniques as those found in his father’s composition. “I’ve looked at this process as kind of a technical exercise, where I’m finding my own language and way of choreographing. The piece of my dad’s that I’m using explores a 17th-century melody that is transformed like a kind of theme and variations. I’ve used this very pure, technical approach in the same way – taking a theme in movement and transforming and distorting it throughout the piece,” Knauer says.
For Knauer and the other three New Breed artists, realising the dream of having their work professionally staged has been an invaluable proving ground as they develop and mature as choreographers. “It’s not just the value of having the dancers; its everything else that comes with being on the New Breed programme,” Knauer explains. “Having the infrastructure to be able to think about costumes, lighting, how to stage a piece effectively, is such a gift. It’s been a steep learning curve, but having the support from SDC is incredible.”
Sydney Dance Company present New Breed 2015 at Carriage works, December 8 – 13.