There is nothing quite like stepping onto the stage and artfully taking your clothes off…
Resilience, female strength and finding a way forward are the key themes in a new community-based contemporary dance project that is unveiling talent in the ACT.
Taking the stage at Erindale Theatre on 16 and 17 July, Unveiled is the newest collaboration between professional choreographers and dance educators Suzy Piani and Bonnie Neate, who have twisted a classic tale into something new.
Inspired by the classic ballet piece Giselle, first performed in Paris in 1841, Unveiled will tell the tragic, romantic story of a beautiful young peasant girl who falls for—and is betrayed by—deceitful nobleman, Albrecht.
According to Bonnie and Suzy, the show draws on a gloomy narrative littered with fun, making it more relatable for young people compared to the cliche fluffy fairytale aesthetic.
“When you look at a lot of the traditional ballets, they actually have quite dark stories,” says Bonnie. “That’s actually what we are known for—our dark and more linear choreography.”
“Expect the unexpected, it’s not your average contemporary dance show…It’s quite quirky and funny in sections but then it’s quite dark,” she says. “We thought we would make it a little bit more in the realm of a dark fairy tale that didn’t end so well.”
Completely conceptualised by Suzy and Bonnie, who have worked together for a number of years, the idea for the project was ultimately encouraged by a student who asked the question ‘Why don’t you do your own show?’.
Noting the limited training and opportunities for advanced dancers in the ACT they quickly embarked on the six-month project: the first production for advanced level dancers, providing bigger opportunities for the advanced dancers in the Canberra region.
“We often find our advanced dancers from around Canberra need to go to Sydney or Melbourne on the weekends to do something like what we’ve done,” says Bonnie.
“This is for people who are very well trained who are potentially not going onto dance careers but have this skill set that is really quite amazing and they want to keep dancing,” adds Suzy.
Aiming to provide opportunities to foster talent in the capital the show is currently self-funded, although there are hopes for vital art funding in the future.
“It’s not valued. The arts—and particularly dance in Canberra—isn’t well supported by the government, to be honest,” says Bonnie.
“They need to do more with it. There’s lots and lots of really talented dancers here that go off and have these professional careers but you never know that they’re from Canberra or wherever in the ACT because it’s not reported on, it’s not really a focus.”
As the Unveiled project gets ready to lift the curtain on the talent hidden throughout the region, the show will culminate in the performance of the full-length contemporary work, exhibiting the dancers’ own resilience as they move forward with their passion.
“Giselle is almost blinded at the start but there’s a moment in the show where the curtain lifts in her mind, she can see the way forward,” says Suzy.
“The key message of Unveiled is you are stronger than you think you are as a person and everybody has an innate sense of resilience somewhere inside of them.”
Follow Unveiled on Instagram for a look behind the scenes.
When: 16-17 July 2021
Where: Erindale Theatre