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New era for Restless’s raw dance-theatre


Adelaide’s Restless Dance Theatre is this week launching its first major fundraising campaign while also celebrating its 25th anniversary and the opening of a new studio space.

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The company, which works with artists with and without disabilities, is seeking to raise $35,000 by May 13 through a program called Creative Partnerships Australia Plus1. If it is successful, it will receive matched funding from the Federal Government.

“It’s such an amazing opportunity … we’re one of only 31 to get offered the funding,” says artistic director Michelle Ryan.

Of those 31 arts projects selected to share in a potential pool of more than $1 million through the Creative Partnerships program, just two others are from South Australia: the Helpmann Academy’s Cultivate campaign and Adelaide Fringe’s Street Art / Cultural Fund for New Work campaign.

“It’s very important for us,” Ryan says of the funding.

“Like all the arts companies, we are waiting to find out if we’ve been successful in the four-year funding applications to the Australia Council and we’ve all been warned it could be a difficult time.

“We’re creating the next generation of creators and that’s important … I just hope that other people realise the value of doing this and investing in our dancers.”

Restless has named its fundraising campaign Give Me Five, and has worked with producer/director Bryan Mason of Adelaide company Closer Production to create a film clip to promote its goal. It has also launched a new website that Ryan says showcases the “beautiful and tenacious” nature of the company’s more than 20 dancers.

Money raised through Give Me Five will go towards a new development opportunity and show called Debut – The Dancers Direct.

Five emerging directors with a disability are being chosen from the company’s senior and youth ensembles to create their own short dance-theatre works under the guidance of professional choreographers. While Ryan always works in collaboration with the dancers, Debut will give the young directors responsibility for bringing their own ideas and visions to life.

The resulting pieces will be presented in a performance by dancers from Restless and Adelaide College of the Arts at the company’s new studio at its 195 Gilles Street premises (previously home of the Disability and Information Resource Centre).

Restless is celebrating the opening of the studio, its 25th birthday and the launch of the fundraising campaign with an event this Friday.

Ryan says that 2016 sees the company in a “really solid, exciting place”.

“Our superb new studio is ripe for the creation of real, raw and uninhibited dance theatre.

“It is the place where we will continue to nurture and create opportunities for people with disability to excel and create great art.”

Restless has mounted a total of more than 30 major productions since its inception and has won a South Australian Ruby Award for Sustained Contribution by an Organisation; its production Salt was also nominated for the Outstanding Achievement in Youth Dance award at last year’s Australian Dance Awards.

Read more about the Give Me Five campaign here.

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