The Australian Institute of Classical Dance presents Dance Creation 2008, which opens in Melbourne on 31 October 2008. Held on alternate years, it offers audiences the chance to experience work from five of Australia’s emerging choreographers. Artistic Directors from numerous national and regional dance companies will attend performances as part of their continuous search for new and innovative works.

Anna Lozynski interviewed former Senior Artist of The Australian Ballet and emerging choreographer, Tim Harbour about the showcase. 

Tim HarbourTell us about the work you have choreographed for Dance Creation 2008.
The work is called ‘Ignis’, which I choreographed in April for the graduating year of the Australian Ballet School. It is a contemporary ballet, which seeks to highlight the technical ability of the students, and challenge their interpretive and performance skills. The piece is accompanied by an 18-minute dramatic recording performed by an Estonian male choir.

How long did it take you to compile the piece?
About ten days.

What do you want the audience to take away from your entry?

I hope the audience feels it has seen something fresh and distinctive. Mostly, I hope they find it beautiful. When you see something beautiful you remember you’re alive!

What did the dancers find most challenging about the work during rehearsals?

I do not think I am hard to work with. I try to be very encouraging and I’m usually pretty sure of what I want, which dancers tend to like. I have developed a genuine affection for the dancers so it has been really enjoyable working with them.

How is it distinct from any other of the pieces you have crafted in your career as a choreographer?
It was the first time I have worked with students. All my other works have been choreographed for The Australian Ballet and performed by already qualified dancers. It was also the first time I had put a piece together in one hit. Usually my rehearsals are spread over a long period of time. In relation to the piece itself, its tone is pretty solemn. I wanted the students to come across as mature. For these reasons, I challenged myself as well as the dancers.

Reed Luplau, Kim McCarthy, Tim O’Donnell and Wakako Asano are your competitors. What was the most gruelling aspect of the nomination process?
It wasn’t grueling at all! Dance Creation used to be a competition, but for the last four years has just been a showcase. So we all are just in it to present our works to Melbourne audiences. I’m really looking forward to seeing the other choreographers and dancers, especially those from interstate.

What was your first thought after you found out you were one of the few hand picked emerging choreographers to participate in the 2008 showcase?
I felt great. Any opportunity to present your work is good. Also, I know how hard the Victorian branch of the Australian Institute of Classical Dance works to put on such a showcase, so to show my support by participating is important to me.  

Tim HarbourChoreography has been a part of your professional life for 13 years now, but in 2007 you decided to hang up your dancing shoes. What inspired you to explore and develop your choreographic skills on a full time basis?
To be honest, I would still be dancing were it not for the injuries. Choreography as a full time venture was always a dream I intended to pursue further down the track. However, it just came about sooner than planned! Having said that, it’s been a wonderful year for me being able to work with the Queensland Ballet, the Melbourne Ballet Company, the West Australian Ballet and Morphoses in New York.

Name one thing you do not miss about your dancing career?
A theatre tan…!

What do you now know that you wish you had discovered at the beginning of your career?

Some of the lessons you learn in your career are tough but I really wouldn’t change them. They’re a part of the richness of that life. Perhaps I could have earlier learned to treat the people with which one works well and with respect at all times.

What, and who, inspires you in your work?

Music and the dancers. I also admire the works of other choreographers such as Chris Wheeldon.

Having now stepped away from the life of a dancer, which can be pretty self-centred by necessity, I’m more and more impressed by the people who assist in getting dance on Australian stages. So many people work tirelessly behind the scenes without the glory.

What are you going to do after opening night?

Get home to bed. I have to work early in the morning!

And finally, Dance Creation 2008 debuts on Halloween. What is your favourite sweet treat?

I love Christmas cake with thick marzipan icing. Could eat them all year round!

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