Garry Stewart, Artistic Director of Australian Dance Theatre, is known for his innovative choreography, collaborating with robotic engineers in Devolution and working with a movement vocabulary that fuses many different dance and martial art forms evident in works such as Bird Brain. In Held Stewart collaborates with photographer Lois Greenfield in a ground-breaking work that incorporates live photography into the choreography for a truly mesmerizing performance.
We talk to Garry Stewart about what innovation means to him.
‘I don’t necessarily think in terms of innovation, I think in terms of what work I want to make and what interests me and with every work I think there needs to be a certain degree of not knowing, a certain absence of knowledge that you uncover through making the work.’
Stewart indicates that we must have a mainstream common ground in order to have innovation and there is always a link between the two.
Nothing is completely in its own bubble of new existence that it always emanates out of something that we already know.
So how does the dancers’ training in Australian Dance Theatre aid Stewart in his ability to choreograph using diverse movement vocabularies? The dancers train in conventional ballet and contemporary techniques which gives them their strength and flexibility and in addition they train in gymnastics, martial arts and yoga giving them the ability to execute some of the ballistic movements prevalent in Stewart’s choreography. Although, as Stewart suggests, these forms are becoming more mainstream as contemporary dance broadens in its definition and the body’s capabilities are further explored.
If unconventional forms of dance and movement training are becoming more mainstream then perhaps it is the way in which these movement vocabularies are used that creates work that is innovative. ‘I think one of the ways in which dance and the dancing body can be rearticulated and reframed in a new context is through its collision with other art forms and new media is one example of that.’