Auckland 16 & 17 July
Hamilton 19 July
Wellington-based Footnote Dance Company are touring their latest production, NOW 2015, to Auckland and Hamilton later this month. I caught up with company dancer Brydie Colquhoun about the new production, being a full time contemporary dancer, and the best coffee in Wellington.
Q. How long have you been with Footnote?
A. I’m the newest dancer in the company – I joined just six weeks ago! After I graduated from the New Zealand School of Dance (NZSD) in 2012, I did contract work for Black Grace and the World of Wearable Arts show.
Q. How has your life changed now that you’re a full time company member?
A. I did eight months freelancing as a contemporary dancer, and supplemented the work by teaching group fitness at a gym and working in a restaurant. It’s so much easier now because dancing is my full time life again. I love being in such a supportive environment.
Q. What's the best thing about your job? What’s the most challenging?
A. I’m such a physical person – it’s being active, being moving all the time. I also enjoy the freedom of expression – you can say what you want to say through the language of your body.
The personalities in this company all work together. Four of us (dancers - there are five in Footnote) were at NZSD together. Lana (Phillips, Footnote company dancer) and I were best friends at dance school. Kosta (Bogoievski, Footnote company dancer) trained at Unitec in Auckland, so we knew each other as the industry is quite close-knit.
The most challenging thing is probably soreness. Some of the work we do is quite bashy and aggressive, so you’re making very strong contact with the floor. We work very hard physically, so we have to learn to manage being sore.
Sometimes it’s tricky to leave work at work; if you’ve had a bad dance day it can be challenging not to take it personally and replay it in your head when you get home.
Q. The NOW 2015 season is comprised of four short works by different NZ choreographers - what’s the process of creation like for this season?
A. Because I only joined the company six weeks ago, I wasn’t here for the whole process. The four works are very different: the first choreographer is Anna Bates, her piece is light-hearted, comical and I came in right at the end of her process. The second choreographer is Natalie Maria Clark, her piece is called Revilery, and is about holding onto the habits that hurt us. The third choreographer is Jared Hemopo, he made a duet on the boys (Jeremy Beck and Kosta Bogoievski). The fourth is Katarina Waldner. Her piece has a more traditional, narrative style and all of the dancers are in it. It’s based on the voyage of New Zealanders - all of our ancestors – coming to NZ. This work is different for me as I’ve danced in a lot of more abstract works. Her piece has clearly defined sections, for example there is a boat section and a Colonial coloured flags section. There are indigenous cultural ideas running throughout the work.
Katarina’s process started with us filling out questionnaires she had prepared about our ancestry – mine are from Hawaiki and England. From there, we were given scripted tasks to work on and develop, for example “take three steps forward, stag leap, etc”. We started creating movement from there.
Q. What would you like the audience to know before they come to NOW 2015?
A. The show is like a lolly bag – a real mixture of works, so come in open-minded. It’s so varied that there really will be something for everyone to appreciate. Each work is as valid as the last, whether it’s driven by movement (abstract) or content (theme and narrative).
One of the struggles for contemporary dance is to expand its audience. Sometimes audience have a very movement-based introduction to contemporary work, which can be completely abstract. That’s why NOW 2015 is such a good show to come and see, because you get a real variety of contemporary works.
We have a really incredible group of dancers. People should come and see NOW 2015 because it’s beautiful and scary and – everything!
Q. What’s one secret the public doesn’t know about contemporary dancers?
A. The fitness side of what we do – I teach group fitness as well as dance full time. We all do extra physical work after hours to enable us to do what we need to do in rehearsal and onstage. People have an understanding of the fitness of sports people, but I don’t think they understand how demanding our work is physically.
Q. Regular touring is a feature of Footnote’s schedule. What’s your professional opinion on NZ’s best;
- Place to grab a coffee?
Fidel’s in Wellington. It was a NZSD Sunday ritual to get their amazing Snickers thickshakes.
- Brilliant activity that costs nothing?
Surfing – my favourite surf spots are Kaitaia and Raglan.
- Place to get a great outfit?
I do a lot of op-shopping, and most of my clothes are rehearsal and gym gear! When I want something really nice I love Forever New.