Force of Nature: Choreographer Sarah Boulter and the Dream Dance Company
Sarah Boulter has at least sixteen excellent reasons to smile this year. After an announcement last October that the talented Sydney-born creative will be the official choreographer for The Dream Dance Company’s 2017 season, Boulter will be responsible for putting the diverse talent of the company’s sixteen remarkable performers on display in a fusion of styles and physicality entirely of her own innovation. Boulter’s extensive experience as a dancer and performer on the international scene (she’s featured in Celine Dion’s show “A New Day, worked for the likes of Mia Michaels and Franco Dragone, and been apart of the London West End & Italian tour, to name just a snippet) makes her exceptionally qualified to handle a cast as versatile as the DDC dancers, and propel the promising young company into a third ground-breaking season.
The direction of Marko Panzic, the Company’s founder and Artistic Director has already seen the Sydney-based company go from strength to strength since receiving a Dance Awards nomination for their first production, Genesis, in 2015 (a collaborative effort by Choreographer Stephen Tannos and Panzic himself). And if early rehearsals are anything to go by (and they are) ‘Enter the Vortex’ is shaping up to be an unrivalled experience, both for audiences and the company itself, who are taking the work to more cities and theaters than ever before. Rehearsals for Vortex are already well and truly underway in preparation for the early May premiere and subsequent nation-wide tour. However, whilst Boulter is clearly in high-demand (she's only recently finished putting her talents to use on the Dance Academy feature film before immersing herself straight into this latest project - and did we mention she also runs her own Full-time Dance Studio, Ev and Bow? ), she managed to find a little time time to chat with us about Enter the Vortex, her choreographic roots, and the challenges and rewards of dance.
See below for the full interview:
E: When did your journey with dance begin?
SB: I have been involved with dance for as long as I can remember. However a pivotal moment for me was when I was 12 years old and I was selected into White Lodge in the UK, it was at this moment that I new I wanted to really dance.
E: Wow! So you were thinking about a career path at twelve?
SB: To be honest I was so young that I didn't really think about making a living out of it… I just couldn't live with out it! At the age of 16 I was given my first Job with Darc Swan Dance Company to tour Australia and this paved the way for my dance career.
E: And what drew you to choreography in particular, was that always a passion, or did it come later?
SB: I've always had an interest! As a dancer the jobs I was drawn to had an extensive creative practise and I always took the opportunity to make works on fellow dancers. However I am glad that I was able to spend so many years just dancing and not teaching or choreographing, as that allowed me to just explore with no needed outcome. Once my dance career was fulfilled, choreography felt like the natural progression and thankfully I love it as much as performing.
E: You’ve worked with some incredible artists and shows, internationally and here in Australia, what have been some of your favourite experiences to date?
SB: As a dancer working under the direction of Franco Dragone was definitely a highlight. He had such a strong vision and the process was completely compelling and different. I feel learned so much from Meryl Tankard as a dancer. I thoroughly loved her creative practise and I loved her attention to detail, I believe she really impacted me in the way I move and create.
E: How would you describe your style as a choreographer?
SB: My style is highly athletic. I love what the body can create and enjoy pushing dancers to explore the depth of their physicality. I’ve always enjoyed theatrics & I certainly feel this is from my influences Franco & Meryl.
E: Apart from Franco Dragone and Meryl Tankard, who or what inspires you?
SB: So many things inspire me - Cultures, music, sounds, stories, my kids playing, relationships & loved ones. I believe there is inspiration in everything and I really try to keep open to seeing new inspirations.
E: What usually comes first, the music, or the idea?
Sadly the idea!I say sadly as I feel I always have the idea and then spend my life trying to match it with the fitting track. Fortunately sometimes I get to work with a composer. This is my favourite way to create a piece.
E: Can you tell us more about the vision/concept behind 'Enter the Vortex', and what to expect from the performance?
SB: My concept for 'Enter The Vortex' is being drawn to a destination where you are your genuine self at the depth of your core...
Spinning spinning pulling everything inside it.
The source has so much power and influence over you that you feel you are not in control.
You are encapsulated by the authentic quality.
It is the holding tank.
It is the anchor.
It is the touchstone.
It is the place of all positive motion. The eternal pool of freedom
The final destination.
E: Sounds intriguing! How has it been working with Marko and the DDC Dancers so far?
SB: An absolute joy. Marko is so supportive and I am so grateful for the platform the he works so hard to create by himself. Marko has a contagious positive energy that is so beautiful to work with.
E: How did the collaboration come about?
SB: Marko and I have known each other for a good 10 years and actually have choreographed together in the past. I was absolutely thrilled to work with him again when he contacted me.
E: What aspects of the choreographic process do you find most challenging, and what do you find most rewarding?
SB: I always find it a challenge to water down my ideas. I always have a concept that needs to be simplified and I can never get the original idea out of my mind. The most rewarding is seeing the improvement in the dancers. The hurdles they overcome and the connection they make with the audience.
E: A large part of choreographic skill is the ability to translate; not just ideas into movement or music into dance, but also to communicate that vision to the dancers who will be performing your work. What do you think are important traits for choreographers to have in order to create this successfully?
SB: I feel it is important to make the environment comfortable so that everyone feels safe to achieve their best work. I find that a choreographer needs to be a good motivator, reading the energy of the room and working appropriately.
E: Are there recurring themes or ideas that you like to explore, or is each project completely autonomous?
SB: I would like to say autonomous.
E: Living in LA for two years (where you worked with the likes of Mia Michaels and Franco Dragone), has it given you a different perspective on the Australian dance industry and dancers? Is there anything you’d change, or that you appreciate more now?
SB: I definitely noticed the difference. When I moved back to Australia it was upsetting to see the little support the arts receives. As well as the small amounts of supporters that go to the theatre. It astounds me that in this country there is such a large amount of dance schools and somehow this does not translate into support for the Arts.
E: What qualities do you most value in dancers you work with?
SB: I love working with great people. It’s not always about the best dancer, but an impeccable work ethic and a person that is a joy to be around.
E: And finally - what advice would you offer young dancers with a passion for choreography?
SB: There are so many wonderful opportunities to do secondments with dance companies and intensives with choreographers. Continue to investigate your craft and start making works on your peers. Push yourself to take a risk don't sit comfortably.
Enter the Vortex premieres in Sydney this May, tour dates and booking info below:
Sydney - May 5th, 6th & 7th, NIDA Parade Theatre
Perth - May 19TH, 20th & 21ST, Lady Wardle Performing Arts Centre
Bundaberg - May 26th, Moncrieff Entertainment Centre
Gold Coast - May 28th, Gold Coast Arts Centre
Wollongong - September 2nd Illawarra Performing Arts Centre, IMB Theatre
Sunshine Coast - September 24th, 'Get the Beat Finals 2017',
The Events Centre, Caloundra
New Zealand - October 28th, St. James Theatre