28 September 2023Counterpoise performers. Photo by Matt Byrne.
Korean and South Australian performers with and without disability have gathered in Seoul for an international celebration of the transformative power of the arts.
Dance theatre work Counterpoise which features nine artists from Adelaide-based Restless Dance Theatre and the Korean contemporary 29Dong Dance Theatre, has been selected to represent Australia in the international collaboration program 'Kore·A·Round Culture’, sponsored by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism of Korea and the Korean Foundation for International Cultural Exchange.
Counterpoise’s detailed choreography is melded with electrifying music by KOREAN MUSIC PROJECT using a combination of traditional and western instruments embedded with digital technology.
Restless Dance Theatre Artistic Director Michelle Ryan says the cross-cultural collaboration with 29Dong Dance Theatre has illuminated the rich tapestry of human expression through movement.
“Together, we are forging a vibrant dialogue that transcends language, connecting hearts and souls across continents. This journey of creative exchange is a testament to the unifying power of art, reminding us that dance is a universal language that can bridge cultures, fostering understanding, and celebrating the beauty of diversity,” she says.
Larissa McGowan, Director of Counterpoise, says, “It's a dynamic exchange where creativity transcends borders, leading to unique ideas, perspectives, and artistic expressions. Working together, we've discovered a harmonious blend of tradition and innovation, creating performances that resonate with a global audience”.
Counterpoise is also being made into a dance documentary series, Dancing Against the Odds, in hope of being screened at international film festivals in 2024 and other events. Filmed in black and white by Adelaide cinematographer Matt Byrne, the documentary has followed the innovative and inclusive journey of making Counterpoise over the last three years.
Dancing Against the Odds is part of a University of South Australia project Connect2Abilities, produced by arts management experts Professor Ruth Rentschler and Dr Boram Lee with the aim of embracing diversity, inclusion and self-expression.
The Restless Dance Theatre, UniSA academics and Adelaide filmmaker Matt Byrne are meeting in the South Korean capital from 20 September to 5 October to conduct workshops, create a dance video and perform a public preview of the work.
The dancers involved in Counterpoise have collaborated virtually on the project since 2020 but didn’t meet in person until two years later due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gathering face-to-face for the first time in late 2022 in Adelaide, members from the three companies Restless, 29Dong Dance Theatre and KOREAN MUSIC PROJECT were able to continue the bonds formed online and celebrate the differences between Australian and Korean cultures.
“We developed this project as a way to connect people across international borders to help ensure those artists who are working to foster an inclusive society through diversity in the arts didn’t feel lost or alone,” says Dr Boram Lee.
“The best outcome of the project has been the opportunities and connections that have been made that otherwise wouldn’t have been possible. To see these artists come together in Seoul to further these relationships and artistic expression is a really rewarding experience.”
Professor Rentschler says the project helps shift attitudes about the capabilities of artists with disability.
“All the artists are dedicated to showing the rich benefits that come from embracing the tailored support that sees their artistic careers blossom and allows those careers to be sustained for the long term,” she says.
Counterpoise: Dancing Against the Odds is supported by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australia-Korea Foundation, Creative Australia, and Arts South Australia.
Media contact: Melissa Keogh, UniSA Media M: +61 403 659 154 E: [email protected]