Celebrating 32 years in 2017 and selling out shows in Australia’s capital cities as well as internationally, many metropolitan crowds are surprised to hear that a prestigious institution such as Dancenorth is based in Townsville. Just as surprising is the lack of recognition the professional dance company receives locally.
Dancenorth Artistic Director Kyle Page says one reason maintaining audiences can be a challenge is the complex and broad definition of what contemporary dance is.
“Dancenorth has been in Townsville for over 30 years now, so there’s a long legacy of amazing choreographers who have worked here – but I think one of the challenges with contemporary dance that you may not find in other performance art forms is that each choreographer is so distinct and unique and very different from each other so there’s not one single umbrella that can distinguish one contemporary dance from others,” said Kyle.
“When choreographers come and go from a company, they either bring with them or leave behind a loyal following of audience members who then need to re-learn the style of the incoming choreographer. I think we’re in that phase at the moment.”
On top of the baton passing from choreographers, another issue faced locally is a lot of people don’t know what Dancenorth is.
“I think there’s a big misconception where lots of people think Dancenorth is a school – but we are a fully-fledged professional dance company. I think we need to shift some perceptions around that, and that feels as though it’s starting to happen.
“We can go down to Sydney Festival and sell out three shows to capacity, have a sell-out season in Melbourne, tour internationally and sell out in Japan; we’re going to the US later this year, Canada and Europe next year … so the conversation around Dancenorth is that it’s a company in demand that does sell tickets before a season opens or before we land on the ground.
“I’d really like to see Dancenorth recognised more locally: we’re a flagship company touted as one of the most desirable contemporary dance companies touring Australia and the world, so would like Townsville to recognise that and come along for the journey.
“It’s an amazing opportunity to show the world that you don’t need to be located in an urban metropolitan centre to be making amazing art that is cutting-edge. We want to allow people through engagement with contemporary dance to imagine and reshape the way they think about and engage in the world.”