Expressions Dance Company (EDC) present a poignant and uplifting story of a man reflecting on the ups and downs of his life in 'Everyday Requiem'.
The show is set against a backdrop of Australian history from the '50s to today as the ordinary man revisits memories and moments, joined physically by EDC and musically by The Australian Voices (TAV).
Here, EDC Artistic Director Natalie Weir reflects on this as her final work with the company.
This is your final work for Expressions! How are you feeling about 'Everyday Requiem' at this stage?
I am so excited about 'Everyday Requiem'. The studio is buzzing with a great energy – I love this time of bringing a large vision together. I really think the audience will connect with it. And I feel very blessed to have the opportunity to bring it to the stage. It’s bittersweet. My final work as AD – that is sad – but also exciting that I can finish my time at EDC with the kind of work that I most love to create – new choreography, original live music and a beautiful story performed by stunning dancers and singers that is about family, life and the things that are truly important.
What is the show about exactly?
It’s the story of an old man (Played by veteran Brisbane performer Brian Lucas, who was actually an EDC dancer in the company’s early days!) who looks back at his life – moments of love, joy, family, war, loss, conflict, beginnings and endings – all brought to life by the EDC dancers, the Australian Voices, and also wonderful special guests, the senior community dancers from local dance organisation WaW Dance. It’s a really relatable, personal and touching story, I’m very proud of it.
It's also the last world premiere for 2018 and is apparently a rather fitting show to signify endings and finales. Why is this?
I feel that I have come full circle with EDC, after many years of creating works for the company during Maggi Sietma’s time as Artistic Director, and then becoming AD in 2009, and now moving away from my role after ten years. It’s interesting that 'Everyday Requiem' hits the similar aforementioned themes to my first full length signature work for EDC, 'Where The Heart Is'. So I feel like it’s a really poignant way of closing this chapter of my life, and within the story of this amazing company which I know will continue to go strong in the future.
Image © Dylan Evans
The show also features The Australian Voices. What will they be doing as part of this show?
The Australian Voices are an integral part of 'Everyday Requiem'. The six singers are on stage most of the time, they are like a greek chorus, assuming characters and commenting on the action. Gordon Hamilton, the AD of TAV is incredibly talented, and the original music he has written for this show is sublime. They sing acapella – just the human voice. The fullness and texture and range of expression in the sound is nothing short of incredible.
What have you learned in your time as Artistic Director of EDC?
I think once I have stepped away from EDC, I will reflect on my time and get some perspective on the last 10 years – it is hard to reflect when you are busy with the day-to-day work involved in leading a company. However at this moment, the thing I feel that I have learnt mostly is to be flexible. Things change sometimes, and being open and flexible to change is a very important part of an AD’s job. And listening to people is vital.
Further to that, what in your opinion has been your greatest achievement?
Well, I guess ten years is no small achievement. I am incredibly proud of the work EDC has produced. Also the five year Australian Chinese Dance Exchange Project that we started is very close to my heart – a project involving tours, residencies, exchanges and the creation of new works between the two countries. Also, fulfilling the vision of using live music as much as possible has been very rewarding – in my time, EDC has collaborated with Queensland Symphony Orchestra, Opera Queensland, Camerata, Southern Cross Soloists and many more. The depth of talent living and working in the arts in Brisbane is something we should all be proud of. But my biggest achievement is keeping alive the dream of an ensemble of dancers working nearly full time. Brisbane needs this – having artists of an incredible calibre choosing to work and live here in Brisbane. The ensemble has flowed and changed over time but the essence of them has remained the same- artists who put their faith in me, who trust in my vision and collaborate with me in the creation of great art under my philosophy: Art Without Fear.
Image © Dylan Evans
What have been some of the highlights of putting this show together?
Every part of creating this show has been precious to me. Working with the talented and extraordinary Gordon Hamilton, composer and AD of the amazing singers from TAV (what a gift they are!). I have worked with Stage Designer Bill Haycock and Lighting Designer David Walters for over 30 years. Working with the beautiful senior people from WaW Dance is extremely satisfying, because I believe strongly that dance is for everyone and it’s for life. And the EDC dancers, they are extraordinary. Every single day I admire their talent, their beauty and their commitment.
What do you hope people leave this show thinking and feeling?
I think this show is quite a rollercoaster of a ride. The work is nostalgic, funny, touching, incredibly emotional and ultimately satisfying. In this work the audience will see elements of their own lives played out in front of them. I hope they will relate to the characters and will leave the theatre feeling totally uplifted. But also on a performance level the dancers and singers are just such phenomenal, talented professionals, it’s a joy to see and hear them on stage.
Is there any moment in the piece that you can particularly relate to above the rest of the performance?
There are several parts that resonate significantly with me. But that is my secret. I love every element in this show. And importantly I think there are so many moments the audience will be able to relate to on a really deep level.
What's next for Natalie Weir?
A good friend of mine said to me, “maybe the next chapter is the most exciting yet”. I like that thought. Some rest and reflection, and time with family is what I look forward to most in the short term. Who knows what comes after that – family is always the priority – but I know that dance and choreography will always be part of who I am, that will never change.