THREE 2.0 – Gabrielle Nankivell Conjures The Incandescent Dark

Published in Arts  
Gabrielle Nankivell, 'The Incandescent Dark' Gabrielle Nankivell, 'The Incandescent Dark'

Have you ever wondered how the multidimensional beauty of dance comes together, with the performers, visuals, and music all flowing in perfect harmony? Dancer and choreographer Gabrielle Nankivell is about to fill you in on the secrets (without ruining the magic).


Gabrielle is currently deep in preparation for the second incarnation of the Australasian Dance Collective’s (ADC) ‘THREE’. Her piece, 'The Incandescent Dark', will appear alongside works from two other celebrated choreographers – Cass Mortimer Eipper and Kate Harman.

Gabrielle is a big fan of Cass and Kate, and the realms they’ll be leading the audience into. “Each artist has a unique voice and different ways of working,” Gabrielle says. “The programme as a whole is really captivating because it takes you through a varied and expansive imaginative landscape.”

Cass has described his work as fun, energetic and peculiar, while Kate’s has a more meditative, poetic vibe. For her part, Gabrielle coaxes the audience into a world crafted collaboratively by the performers; a place that, in Gabrielle’s words, is “atmospheric and a little emotionally intriguing”.

JadeFergusonVisualPoetsSociety ADCThree1
Image © Jade Ferguson @ Visual Poets Society

It’s also thoroughly unique to this particular constellation of artists.

“Making a performance always feels like some kind of alchemy. I take the performers through specific guided improvisation in the beginning, and then gradually we expand that, working with photographs and memories of people, places, and times, trying to recreate that feeling of the connection to those things.”

The performance plays within the swirling stream of emotions that flow through us as we think of people we once knew, or flip through dusty photo albums. Though this realm is suspended halfway between fiction and reality, it’s a place we all visit regularly in our minds, making the performance enchanting yet relatable, fantastical yet deeply familiar.

A significant part of that alchemy Gabrielle mentions arises from the rare and beautiful connection she shares with her musical collaborator, Luke Smiles. The two have worked together for around 15 years, and the way Gabrielle explains it, he’s like a secret extra performer on stage.

JadeFergusonVisualPoetsSociety ADCThree2
Image © Jade Ferguson @ Visual Poets Society

“We work side by side in the studio, so to some degree, Luke is going through the same process as everybody. What he produces will affect what the performers are doing and vice versa.”

This long-standing relationship allowed them to collaborate seamlessly on 'The Incandescent Dark', even though they had to work remotely (there was a pandemic to contend with).

“We can finish each other’s sentences we’ve worked together so much,” Gabrielle laughs. And the truth of this sentiment shines through in the productions they’ve created over the years. There’s no sense of separation between the dancers and the soundscape. As an audience member, it feels as though the sounds, visuals, and movements are one continuous event arising from a single source.

This magic appears to be a natural byproduct of the collaborative creative process, a practice Gabrielle says is nurtured by the Australasian Dance Collective. “There’s a real shared ethos of doing this thing together and dismantling the antique hierarchies that often exist within organisations. But at the same time, ADC has the structure and governance and resources of a company. It has the potential to be the best of both worlds, and that’s an exciting thing to be a part of.”

'THREE 2.0' plays from 13-16 July at Brisbane Powerhouse.

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