Interview with Tara Coughlan: Young Regional Artist Scholarship 2018

Tara Coughlan and Sinead Skorka Brennan performing "Gemini" at the Escalate III performance series in Canberra during Dance Week. Choreography by Liz Lea. Photo by Andrew Sikorski.

Tara Coughlan and Sinead Skorka Brennan performing “Gemini” at the Escalate III performance series in Canberra during Dance Week. Choreography by Liz Lea. Photo by Andrew Sikorski.

Awarded a Create NSW Young Regional Artist Scholarship in 2018, dancer Tara Coughlan will spend four weeks, this year, honing her creative skills with: Escalate Further: A Residency with Liz Lea.

You dance, you cook, you are an inspirational public speaker, a Zumba instructor and coach – is there no end to what’s possible for Tara Coughlan?

Well, there’s also netball, touch football, looking after everybody, disability advocate at Southern Cross University, and [event management like] moms 60th (whoops!). But the next big thing is French Café, which Liz and I have been working on with Sprung!! It will be a kind of crazy cabaret show and it’s on at the Brunswick Picture House on July 12-14th. I’ll have a solo in it.

What motivated you to seek the Scholarship to enable you to work with Liz Lea?

Liz is strong. She’s a strong role model and has good technique and choreography, and I love her fashion styles. She’s incredibly generous as a mentor, creating opportunities for me.

Liz has worked with you previously, how has her coaching made a difference to your work?

Liz is firmer than Michael (Hennessy, Artistic Director of Sprung!!). Well, Michael is firm about pilates, but Liz wants me to put my hair up and is strict about fast slow, getting it exactly right.

How important is dance for you? What do you want to say to people through your performances

Dance is my life, it’s my career, it’s what I do. It connects through where I’ve lived, through where I’ve travelled. I’ve been dancing for 20 years. I want to show people who I am. After the shows people come up for feedback, they connect. One man hadn’t been out for five years, he was so sad and depressed, and when he saw my dance he felt all emotional, he hugged me for a long time.

Your residency will take place in Canberra, Ballina, and Adelaide, and will involve technique, new work development, workshop co-facilitation and performance. Where do you want your scholarship to ultimately take you?

Yes, to all of these. I loved dancing at Carriageworks, the water room [from artist Nick Cave]. Liz taught me new techniques – arms and shoulders especially. What’s next? Definitely Sydney. The Opera House. And Perth. To be with my old mentor, Paige Gordon.

What tips do you have for other young people thinking about applying for artistic development opportunities provided by Create NSW?

Choose a mentor who inspires you, don’t be afraid that people will laugh at you, never give up. The YRAS program is very positive and supportive and you’ll meet lots of great people.

Image: Tara Coughlan and Sinead Skorka Brennan performing “Gemini” at the Escalate III performance series in Canberra during Dance Week. Choreography by Liz Lea. Photo by Andrew Sikorski.

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Published: 19 May 2019