This piece was published before the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
This April, Queensland Performing Arts Centre will host the Australasian Dance Collective’s triple bill performance showcase, 'THREE'.
'THREE' features premieres from some of Australia’s finest choreographers including Melanie Lane and Brisbane local Jack Lister. Jack is no stranger to the main stage – over the last seven years, Jack’s major works have reached critical acclaim across the nation, and his unique style of choreography has enabled him to present works across the United Kingdom, China and Germany.
As a classically-trained ballet dancer, Jack remarks on how 'THREE' will pose a change of pace and a set of exciting new challenges.
“It’s almost like a new chapter that we're beginning. Stepping into the contemporary dance world and pushing and challenging myself towards newer and different things,” Jack describes. “Sometimes you come up with different works, depending on the dancers you're working with. What we're trying to do is quite theatrical and quite emotionally driven, and it's been quite a personal experience.”
Jack’s accolades are beyond his years. Jack’s most recent commission was for The Birmingham Royal Ballet, titled ‘A Brief Nostalgia’. The production has been praised for its poignant depth and originality.
When asked where he draws inspiration for such profound and highly original content, Jack says that even if the work isn’t narrative driven, the marriage between visual effectiveness and emotional rise are at the heart of all of his pieces.
“It’s interesting to try and find concepts that don't necessarily relate to dance particularly well and trying to unpack that. By no means do I think I'm breaking the mould, but I guess I'm trying to put on something that I'd like to watch,” he explains. “As I've worked with different people and different companies now, I guess it's about what set of ideas I can bring into people's heads and how that translates to the stage. I’m always developing, finding a new way – I have different processes every time I walk into a room. Everyone I work with is very influential to me.”
Jack’s showcase for 'THREE' is currently under creative development, but Jack shares some of the themes and motifs surrounding his production.
Image © David Kelly
“I'm taking a lot of cues from visual art in this work, so we're unpacking the traditional forms of still life painting. Particularly the Venetian still lifes which centre around the theme of ‘Memento Mori’, which in Latin translates into 'remember you must die'.
“A lot of those paintings from the 15th to 17th century, which a lot of Dutch artists spearheaded, heavily used symbolism. So, a lot of skulls, candles that have had their wicks snuffed out, and decaying flowers and fruits – really just focusing on the transient brevity of life. . . So, I've taken that as a jumping off point. As we've gone into the project, I've been conscious of not trying to make a piece about death. It's really been a piece about time; the different timelines we're all on and the different speeds and rates which our lives move around one another. . .
“Ironically, I'm trying to do what painters do in creating something static and permanent from something like dance which is so impermanent and only ever exists in that moment and then moves. That’s how we paint and create our art. Our work is experienced in a second. I’m trying to hone in on what we do, and trying to freeze frame a lot more things. I'm trying to 'paint' with the dancers using similar imagery to what all of those still life paintings encompassed.”
Jack’s showcase at 'THREE' is still in its development process, and as such, Jack is trying to decipher what his piece’s ultimate take home message is. Regardless, audiences can expect a high calibre of innovative and powerful contemporary choreography.
“I feel like I’d like for it to be a poignant work, but I also don't think that it is a particularly profound piece,” Jack says. “People are going to interpret it exactly how they're going to interpret it. Exactly how they judge every other piece of art. It’s the irony that I’m trying to create a piece of art in the traditional sense of visual art, with a contemporary and impermanent medium.”
'THREE' was scheduled to play Queensland Performing Arts Centre but has been cancelled due to COVID-19.