With rehearsals underway, the Expressions Dance Company is moulding its most ambitious work yet to ethereal perfection.
From award-winning Australian choreographer Natalie Weir ('Where The Heart Is', 'R&J') comes 'When Time Stops' — a new signature work exploring the painfully personal yet immensely dramatic events of new life, loss, love and longing.
Having directed her last work 'Where The Heart Is' through the eyes of a male, Weir has choreographed this new piece through a woman's eyes.
Lead dancer Riannon McLean is that woman. Or rather, the body through with the woman's story is told.
“It's very much a journey. I guess [the character] is not really anyone. She's not me. She's not you. She's very much a viewer. She observes life and things happen to her.”
‘When Time Stops’ brings together 20 artists, with design by Bill Haycock, lighting by David Walters, and original composition by multi award-winning Australian composer Iain Grandage performed live by Queensland chamber orchestra, the Camerata of St John’s.
“We had a few weeks where [Weir] started off with the original idea. That was really exciting, we don't normally get the opportunity to have a development process before we actually do our work. We've only been [rehearsing for] a week, but it's starting to take shape.”
McLean says production ideas are growing bigger and clearer, but that Weir “also allows us to develop our character ourselves, to see where it can be taken.”
“We all come from different life experiences, and you can bring that to the work in a physical sense.”
McLean has performed and toured nationally and internationally in 13 company productions since joining EDC in 2007.
“But my role in ‘When Time Stops’ will, without a doubt, be the greatest challenge of my dance career thus far. Things happen around the central character that are sometimes out of her control and within my life, I’ve experienced times like that. Life kind of happens. And you look back on it and go, 'wow, maybe I didn't have a lot of control over that, but it happened'. It's your life, and it's your journey. Hindsight is definitely something I can bring to ‘When Time Stops’.”
McLean’s own story is one of physical hardship, come unexpected hope.
“My mum got me into dancing when I was five … because I used to roll in my feet when I walked and she wanted to correct my foot alignment. That's why I started dancing. And I didn't leave.”
Asked about her favourite part in the production, McLean reveals it’s “the beautiful duet I do with [Jack Ziesing].”
“It’s part slow-motion and part fast. We've actually just finished rehearsing it this morning. It's quite sorrowful, but has a really beautiful connection. And that's a challenge for both of us. Definitely a lovely journey to go on.”
Through rhythm and dance, ‘When Time Stops’ asks how we deal with the moments that determine who we are, who we become, and what we hold dear. Do we sink or swim?
“I think this is going to be such a beautiful, enormous work — very emotional, as all of [Weir’s] works are. It just has so much relevance to people today, experiencing life.”
‘When Time Stops’ will play at the Playhouse, QPAC from Sept 6-14.