This week, the Australian Dance Theatre (ADT) will begin its biggest regional tour since the late 1980s, taking the new show Outside Within all around South Australia.
It’s the first show of the 2022 season, and also the first show with artistic director Daniel Riley, the company’s first indigenous director.
Riley, a Wiradjuri man, has put together both a dance performance and a short film – Mulunma – Inside Within – exploring both the western forms of archiving (such as through museums or libraries) and indigenous forms of archiving through ancestral knowledge of country.
Adrianne Semmens, who is a Barkindji woman, will also be performing her dance work Immerse, about her connection with both fresh and salt water. The three performance pieces have been combined into an innovative production that Riley describes as a triptych.
The regional tour starts today with a performance at the Northern Festival in Port Pirie. It then includes stops in Whyalla, Mount Gambier and Remark before finishing in Noarlunga on June 4.
Nick Hays, the executive director of the ADT, is particularly excited about taking Outside Within across South Australia, having grown up in regional New South Wales.
“ADT has a very long rich tradition of touring overseas, particularly to Europe over the past 20 years. [But] when I started in 2020 what we have done is really ground the company back here in South Australia, particularly in Adelaide” says Hays.
“We are now aiming to tour regionally every year – not to say we have never toured regionally – but in the past it’s been relatively infrequent.”
Riley took over after the departure of former artistic director Garry Stewart, who had held the role for 22 years, and is passionate about representing and commissioning first nations artists and representing their culture.
However, the regional tour is not only about bringing the company’s performances to a new audience that often misses out on major arts events but to also inspire young creatives who live rurally.
“We really want to be able to share our performances right across the state of course, but we hope that are dancers or directors or set designers who might see our shows and see themselves doing that and they realise it’s something that you can do, and you can pursue,” says Hays.
“Part of the regional tour this year are educational workshops in primary and secondary schools, and community workshops for first nations people right across the state, and it’s an opportunity to engage with first nations audiences. It’s another way for us to connect with a broad array of people.”
Though both Riley and Semmens had developed some of their performances beforehand, Outside Within was put together in record time, premiering exactly four months since Riley first joined the company – with two more shows premiering later this year.
Riley’s first full-length show, Savage, will premiere at the Dunstan Playhouse in September, followed by Cultivate in December at the Odeon, in collaboration with associate artist Tobiah Booth-Remmers.
Reflecting on why the art of dance attracts such a wide and varied audience, Hays describes ADT’s performances as simply electrifying.
“Dance is the oldest form of storytelling, it’s been a part of storytelling and life on this continent for thousands of years… it doesn’t just have to be on stage, it can be a very personal and profound experience,” Hays says.
“Everyone can dance, even if they say they can’t or they’re too shy. There is something very primal and natural about responding to music. To be able to see that play out on stage is a very unique and amazingly satisfying experience.”
The full regional tour schedule can be found here.
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