ENCOUNTER is bringing a new experience to audiences in Western Sydney

Encounter, Sydney Festival 2020. Photo by Heidrun Lohr.

ENCOUNTER, Sydney Festival 2020. Photo by Heidrun Lohr.

FORM Dance Projects, Sydney Youth Orchestras and FLING Physical Theatre Australia have teamed up to create a new site-specific work for Sydney Festival 2020 called ENCOUNTER. Create NSW spoke with director Emma Saunders ahead of Sydney Festival.

What can audiences expect with ENCOUNTER?

Expect to be sitting on a picnic blanket in Prince Alfred Square and be blown away by the scale and innovative nature of this dance work, performed by 16 energised young dancers from Western Sydney and FLING Physical Theatre in Bega.

Audiences will also experience the live 50-piece Western Sydney Youth Orchestra. It’s an immersive experience in a site-specific work of joy.

How important is it to provide a platform for the representation of young people in Western Sydney and Regional NSW?

It is a super important platform that offers a chance for our young artists to collaborate with other young artists from different backgrounds – not just cultural backgrounds – but differences within the ‘culture’ itself of their hometowns.

What was the motivation to bring Sydney Youth Orchestra and FLING Physical Theatre together for this project?

Initially it started with the idea of creating a new Australian dance production with young performers. FORM Dance Projects was sharing a studio in Parramatta with the newly formed Western Sydney Youth Orchestra.

Both companies, Sydney Youth Orchestras and FORM Dance Projects, aim at providing opportunities for young diverse artists in Western Sydney. We also felt it was important to highlight the differences and similarities between growing up in an urban landscape such as Western Sydney suburbs and a regional area such as the south coast of NSW.

Why did you decide to create this as a site-specific work?

I think working in a more site specific way allows the dancing to shift. I’m interested in how dancing can be shifted, and how the space one performs in can affect the actual development and meaning of the content both for the performers, and the audience.

Can you talk about the challenges you had creating ENCOUNTER?

What I’ve learnt from ENCOUNTER is how important it is to develop an ongoing practice with a cohort of dancers – this way we can build trust and create our own unique way of working, rather than just following my own way.

I’ve learnt more about what it means to make a dance work for an outdoor site, and how my experience of making work for a theatre can inform and at times obstruct the logic of working outdoors. And I’ve learnt how to get out of my own way within the creative process to allow for the dancers to have their own agency and therefore ownership of the dancing and the work at large.

Do you plan to deliver more projects like this in the future?

Of course! First we’ll aim to tour Australia and then the world!

In addition, what’s emerged from ENCOUNTER during its creation over the last year, is a platform for the creation of a Western Sydney youth ensemble.

As Associate Artist for FORM Dance Projects in 2020 I will continue to foster diverse young dance artists to develop their dance practice in a supported environment with industry professionals and provide opportunities for them to create new Australian dance works. It’s an exciting new chapter!

Watch the trailer.

Image: ENCOUNTER, Sydney Festival 2020. Photo by Heidrun Lohr.